Content Types

Analysis

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.


Of Gross Mischaracterizations All Over the Map

The policies of climate change alarmism both lock in existing power structures and transfer wealth from the poorer classes of rich countries to the richer classes of poor countries.


Excepting Freedom of Speech

No, campaign finance law isn’t like preventing people from shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, and no, voters don’t have a right to know how other people feel about issues or politicians.


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Research

April 2016 Employment: The Rut of April Mud

Whatever politicians may say, Rhode Island’s employment situation is stuck, which means losing ground against its Southern New England neighbors and the country as a whole.


March 2016 Employment: On the Plus Side of Stagnation

Rhode Island’s employment results were generally positive, for March, but the context of other states and of long-term trends advises caution before proclaiming a break of the Ocean State’s stagnation fever.


February 2016 Employment: More of the Same

RI’s February employment data is, at best, stagnant, but compared with its neighbors and other states around the country, the Ocean State is losing considerable ground.


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Opinion

What’s Really In Your Best Interests? Overreach in Obama’s Transgender Bathroom Directive

On this episode of, “What’s Really In Your Best Interests?” I discuss President Obama’s recent transgender bathroom directive. The administration’s directive regarding transgender access to bathrooms in public schools can only be viewed as a blatant threat and yet another assault against the cherished American cornerstones of federalism, local governance, individual rights, and transparent government. Rhode Islanders should speak out against this growing federal intrusion.

Regardless of how you feel about transgender access to facilities, the process by which this executive action will be implemented is nothing short of pure corruption.

If ever there was a time for school choice, to empower parents with the choice to escape schools that do not respect their personal values, that time is now. This increasing trend of arbitrary and unconstitutional government by activist and elitist executives, often a direct affront to the values of the very people they claim to represent – is dangerous to the cornerstones of our great American democracy.


A Call for Christian Courage

A Portsmouth Institute conference on the need for Christian courage in a secular age may help believers reconcile the need for compassion with the reality of absolutes.


What’s Really In Your Best Interests? John Marion of Common Cause RI on the Ethics Commission

This week on “What’s Really In Your Best Interests?” I sit down with John Marion of Common Cause RI to discuss the Ethics Commission. We talk about the growing coalition to restore the Ethics Commission in Rhode Island. The resolution being proposed will put forward a change to the RI Constitution to be approved by voters. With recent examples of bad behavior by the RI General Assembly, Rhode Islanders should ask themselves if a restored ethics commission is really in their best interests.

The Clean RI coalition is composed of almost two-dozen groups. This resolution does, in fact, restore the full jurisdiction of the ethics commission despite the speech and debate clause. Common Cause argues that the controversial moratorium should be set aside and placed into a separate statute. This is an important piece of the puzzle of good government in the Ocean State. We encourage you to speak out on the issues affecting your family in Rhode Island.


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Investigative Report

Cooler & Warmer Time Line and the Commerce Corp.’s Promotional Focus

The Commerce Corp. is being vague about the time line of the development of the failed “Cooler & Warmer” brand, which raises questions about what it’s hiding and whom it’s promoting.


Was Final RhodeWorks Vote Scheduled Before the Bill Was Submitted?

Correspondence related to the removal of the toll gantries on the Sakonnet River Bridge on Super Bowl Sunday suggests that the date was no surprise, that the state paid a premium for the timing, and that government officials had the schedule for RhodeWorks legislation planned out well in advance.


UPDATED: Former RIICA Director: State House Pressure on Lobbyists, Members Led to Lost Job

As the latest incident showing a toxic culture in the State House, the former executive director of Rhode Island Independent Contractors and Associates (RIICA) says he was forced out after officials put pressure on the group’s lobbyists and members began to fear retaliation.


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Liveblog

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Longer Twitter

Grant Inequality is Also by Community

Today’s must-read-as-always Political Scene in the Providence Journal does a good job breaking down the top recipients, both legislator and community-wise, of legislative grants this year. (It was community service, not legislative, grants, that were the subject of the very lame House hearings last week.) Because legislative grants are given out entirely at the whim of leadership, those legislators who are favored are presumably going to get a larger share of the grants. But the result of that selection process is also a disproportionate distribution of grant monies by city and town. Here’s what that looks like.

Of the $537,040 given out by the 10 lawmakers, $113,850 went to organizations in Mattiello’s home district of Cranston, $82,700 went to Providence groups, $42,000 went to East Providence groups, and $38,500 landed in Warren-based organizations.

Legislative grants need to go away, largely because they are unconstitutional. But they also need to be gone because they are obviously unfair. Why should one city or town get more than another? Democrats wring their hands about income inequality. It’s interesting that, when political considerations enter the picture, Democrat leadership on Smith Hill not only tolerates inequality but deliberately creates it via the grant process.


ProJo’s Fire-And-Brimstone Editorial About Grant Hearings is Spot On

The Providence Journal’s all out, fire-and-brimstone editorial yesterday against the sham House hearings on grants is welcome and fully warranted.

The hearings came across as nothing but a dog-and-pony exhibition, an insult to the intelligence of most Rhode Islanders, a fraud, a farce.

The editorial not only calls for an immediate end to grants but goes on to point out that the line item veto would be a curb on such excesses. (My comment: ahem, yes, in the hands of a Governor interested in wielding it.)

The editorial, further, makes reference to federal authorities.

This is rank enough, but the system has evidently metastasized into funneling money directly to legislators and other allies working for dubious nonprofit groups. If crimes have been committed in this manner, we hope federal authorities bring an iron fist down on the perpetrators.

It is very difficult to believe that leadership is attempting to pass off these Potemkin hearings as the promised review and oversight of the very troubled grant program and that they won’t, in fact, be bringing in independent investigators. If that is the case, however (and I would be thrilled to be wrong here), legislative oversight is pointless and it is clearly time to bring in a phalanx of feds. Grants and every campaign account on Smith Hill: let them go top to bottom. The “stench”, as the editorial calls the miasma emanating from the grant program, will not clear until this happens.


Grant Hearings: No Hard Questions … Or Even Committee Members Half the Time

Good article by Tom Mooney in today’s Providence Journal about the subcommittee hearings this week on legislative and “Community Service” grants. He reports that not only were no hard questions asked … but testimony was given often with committee members largely AWOL.

But if anyone was waiting to hear if any of the $11.6 million in community service grants distributed this budget year was misused, they’ve been disappointed. One reason is there’s virtually no one around to ask the question.

Following the revelation of an ongoing federal investigation into now-resigned Representative Raymond Gallison and state grant monies sent to non-profits affiliated with Gallison that may largely have gone to his salary, Speaker Mattiello had promised to review all such grants. It is to be sincerely hoped that the intended review will extend considerably beyond these hearings, for which the description “Potemkin” would be generous.


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Interviews & Profiles

Arthur Christopher Schaper: Cicilline’s “Grand Theft Auto” Sanctuary City

Arthur Christopher Schaper asks illegal immigration expert Jessica Vaughn about the consequences of sanctuary city policies under former Providence Mayor David Cicilline.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 46 (Congressional Debates)

Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss the candidates for U.S. Congress from Rhode Island (mostly by way of the issues).


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 45 (Secretary of State Debate)

Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss a debate between candidates for RI Secretary of State and related topics.


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