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The Heritage of Gaspee

May I indulge in a quick word about state representative from Warwick and Democrat Party chairman Joseph McNamara?  The cartoonish pretense of offense that he’s been expressing that anybody would dare criticize his fellow Democrats without exposing their donors to bullying from corrupt state officials and their activist allies is worthy of note, but what’s really been nagging at me is this, from a Katherine Gregg article:

“Unfortunately,” said McNamara, a Warwick state representative, “shadowy conservative groups like the Gaspee Project still get away with underhanded mailings like this with no reporting to the Board of Elections website. I find it disgusting, especially with the use of patriotic symbols like the HMS Gaspee,” McNamara said.

One wonders about McNamara’s sense of patriotism.  To be clear, I’m not challenging his patriotic feelings, but I wonder what they entail.  Frankly, it’s difficult not to conclude that they really are just that: feelings.  Presumably he has warm feelings about his family’s heritage, and he loves the country that’s allowed him to be a person of some small importance in his home state.  But really, what does he feel patriotic about?  I’d bet he’s never really thought about the message of the Gaspee burning or its relevance to modern times.

Consider the details.  Much of the aggression in those early days of our country had to do with high taxes, and high taxes are practically the defining value of Rhode Island Democrats.  The HMS Gaspee, specifically, was on an anti-smuggling mission, and smuggling is nothing but transporting goods for commerce without government approval.  Regulating economic activity might even be more important to McNamara’s comrades than taxing it.

Indeed, McNamara’s entire complaint against the wicked right-wing fliers is that they constitute free speech without government regulation.  In that sense, the Gaspee Project fliers are like smuggled goods, and McNamara wants to send out the ships to stop that suspicious activity.

Sorry, Joe.  Either you’re the bad guy or you have to reevaluate your affection for the incidents that defined the United States’s rebellious origin.  On further thought, you’re the bad guy either way.

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A Republican Primary Primer


As we head towards Presidential Primary Day in Rhode Island, Anchor Rising/Ocean State Current would like to do its part to reduce the number of surprises that people might experience during the Republican primary and corresponding delegate selection process. So, be aware that…

1. Republican Primary voters will be voting in 3 elections, not 1.

2. Because of the 10% threshold rule, it is very possible that John Kasich and Ted Cruz will emerge from Rhode Island with at least 3 delegates each.

3. Primary voters can participate in choosing the delegates for any of the candidates, not just the one candidate they vote for — and if no candidate has a majority of delegates heading into the convention, this could matter.

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Theories of Trump

Theories about Donald Trump’s political success abound, raising the question of how much the man actually matters when it comes to the phenomenon, a dangerous circumstance if we forget that we’re electing the man, not the brand.

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The Car-Toll Referendum is a Perfect Example of Something that Belongs in the State Constitution


Subtitle: A rebuttal to Governor Gina Raimondo’s appearance on Newsmakers.

And which concludes with…If Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island lawmakers truly believe that tolling passenger vehicles should be placed beyond the reach of the legislature and are not merely slipping a few words into the law as meaningless political theater, then according to the most basic tenets of constitutional democracy, the referendum requirement needs to be placed into the constitution. And in the absence of a constitutionally-required referendum, it is entirely fair to describe legislators who support the current truck-toll legislation as supporting tolls on trucks now, with a legislative option for tolls on cars later.

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Constitutional Amendment Limiting New Tolls to be Heard Alongside the Rhode Works Bill


Today, the Rhode Works plan, which creates a system for tolling trucks across the network of Rhode Island highways, will have its first hearing in the RI Senate Finance Committee….the Senate Finance Committee will also hear a bill today to send to the voters a constitutional amendment which would require that any future car tolls be directly approved by voter referendum….and there is no reason why both bills shouldn’t move through the legislative process together — unless, of course, the plan all along has been to use truck tolls as a stepping stone towards car tolls.

Any legislator who votes for the Rhode Works bill without also voting for the constitutional amendment will be voting for truck tolls now with an option for car tolls later.

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James Cournoyer: Tolls – Resist the Urge to Create a Big Bang Wrapped in the Worn Flag of “Economic Growth” and “Creating Jobs”

Dear Members of the General Assembly,

Please vote against Governor Raimondo’s and Speaker Mattiello’s Rhodeworks plan that calls for Tolls and more Debt.

RI may have the worse roads and bridges, but we are also saddled with one of the highest Debt burdens in the nation – both on a per capita basis and as a percentage of Gross State Product. We simply do not need more debt.

The Governor explained to us in October that the RIDOT, which has a stunning $450+ million budget this year, was “dysfunctional” and that they “never produced start-to-finish budgets and schedules”. That is precisely the reason our roads are in such disrepair. It is NOT due to a lack of funding; rather, it is due to a lack of planning and oversight, and gross mismanagement.

Tolls will simply add to RI’s already notorious national reputation of being “anti-business”.

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​​Tolls – ​Strong Caution for the Companies Currently Negotiating to Cut Their (So Far, Only Theoretical) Losses

​Dear Potentially-Toll Affected Company:

Look, it’s completely understandable what you’re trying to do. There’s a real possibility that the government – the State of Rhode Island, in this case – would lay a heavy financial burden on your operation. It’s natural, when a heavy blow seems inevitable, to try to lessen it. And the state officials who are talking to you are not dumb. While some of them very much want this new revenue stream, they also know that if you leave the state (or decide to work against their reelection), the political repercussions for them could be bad. Depending upon the number of Rhode Islanders you employ, maybe real bad.

​So to shield themselves and try to make you happy – or at least, less unhappy – these state officials are offering to partially offset your losses to tolls through an abatement – perhaps of registration or other fees.