Friday, December 22, 2006

Want to live in Rhode Island?

We've got your affordable housing right here. Residential rental vacancies in the Ocean State are over 7%, and landlords are desperately throwing in incentives like free heat, free first month's rent and even cash incentives for referrals to try and close the gap. The Providence Journal has the story here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Do they still stink?

Last month, I excoriated the Boston Celtics on the dismal start of their 2006 - 2007 season. Looks like I may have spoken too soon. Ever since the team found itself involved in rumors that they would be trading for Allen Iverson, the Celtics have gone on a tear, winning five straight games and climbing to the top of the woeful Atlantic Division.

As the lynchpin player in the Iverson trade rumours, Celtics big man Al Jefferson has played like a man possessed - possessed by a desire to stay in Boston, that is. He's putting up all star numbers in December, and he's been key to the Celtics' winning streak. Quoth Jefferson:
" ... I don't want to go. If I leave, I'm going to handcuff myself to the bus and say, 'I don't want to go.' I just don't want to go. I love being here. I love Doc as a coach. I love this team."
As expected, this bold declaration made someone I know swoon with emotion over her soulmate's declaration of love for the Celtics and for the city of Boston. Speaking as a Celtics fan, and as a man!, I'm glad Al's feeling the love, but I'm even happier that he's averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds a game since his name became linked to the Iverson rumors. 20 points and 10 rebounds a game is getting him closer to Karl Malone territory, so the Celtics did the right thing and quickly took Al out of any possible deal for Allen Iverson. Celtics fans have waited a very long time for another dominant low post player, and they're not going to let Al slip through their fingers.

I don't want to jinx them, of course, and I'll get even more excited when they have a record of .500 or better. But the Celtics have put their dismal start behind them and are looking towards the playoffs - a realistic goal in the NBA's Eastern Conference.

Monday, December 11, 2006

My street is on fire.

I came home from work and found my street completely shut off by fire and police vehicles, battling a fire two houses down. With nearly dead batteries, I took some pictures and put them up on Flickr. As soon as we get more information on where the evacuated have been relocated to and and how we can help, I'll put them up here.

UPDATE: No surprises here. Make any and all donations to the victims by contributing something to the Rhode Island Red Cross.

Rhode Island getting screwed by Tinseltown?

With Rhode Island facing a budget shortfall of over $100,000,000, some state lawmakers are questioning the wisdom of handing out tax breaks to filmmakers working in the Ocean State. A study by the Boston based New England Public Policy Center has issued a report (warning - PDF file) pointing out the obvious: Rhode Island gains almost zero long term economic stimulus, and loses quite a lot of tax revenue, by offering filmmakers such generous tax incentives. What's more, there's very little job growth created by movie makers in the Ocean State.

The Providence Journal (registration required) looks at the issue in greater depth here.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Same sex marriage drama!

Lesbian breakup drama comes to the Ocean State! Should Rhode Island grant a divorce to two women married in Massachusetts? Would this constitute a de facto recognition of gay marriage in Rhode Island? Does anyone really care?

I know one law student in particular who would dismiss the entire thing with a haughty "lesbians don't really exist" before reminding me once again that women are drama junkies who should be quiet, get their overfed asses in the kitchen and start making sandwiches. Then again, she's a total misogynist.

Me? I don't really care. The pugnacious portly Portuguese pundit invites her listeners in Fall River, MA to go out and hate gays over at her blog, but I just can't get that worked up about it.

On a typically unrelated note, Dictators of the World has more new updates than you can shake a military coup at.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Holy crap

The Providence Journal's website has been redesigned in the past six or so hours. Where it was once fairly bland looking but functional site, it's now horribly cluttered and ugly. Nary a comment on the front page was to why this decision was made, either. Especially egregious is the obtrusive search box in the upper right hand corner. Terrible stuff indeed.

Thankfully, I was able to wade through through the crap and pick out the proverbial kernel of information of interest: an obituary of mafioso Richard "Red Bird" Gomes. Gomes, a contemporary of Rhode Island's notorious Raymond Patriarca Sr. and New York's John "The Teflon Don" Gotti, died of natural causes in his North Providence apartment at the age of 73.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The dog days of early winter

So what's happened in Rhode Island since Thanksgiving? Frankly, nothing much. There has been more legal drama about the 2003 Station nightclub fire. The Boston Celtics continue to underwhelm. Buddy's locked up in the clink until July. It feels like the state is on hold.

Of course, this presents an opportunity to link to some of my favorite articles from one of my favorite Rhode Island websites: Presenting all you'd ever want to know about ...
... and so very, much more. Coffee milk and vampires: what more could you want?

But wait, there's more! How about if I throw in a new post at Dictators of the World? Now how much would you pay? Also, blogger Lefty has more on the wide open supermarket field in Tiverton over at A View from Battleship Cove.

Friday, November 24, 2006

What cheer, Netop?

Oh sure, our neighbor to the north hogs the limelight when it comes to Thanksgiving (even though they shouldn't), but the interplay of English colonists and American Indians played an overwhelmingly important role in the Ocean State's history as well. Take a moment to acquaint yourselves with the Narragansetts, and thank them for being such good sports (at such a great cost) to Roger Williams and company. It took both Williams and the Narragansetts to create the beginning of the Rhode Island we know and love today, and without them, Rhode Island would be just another lump of land in Massachusetts.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"The Supreme Soviet of Rhode Island"

Moscow on the Woonasquatucket? Edward Achorn at the Providence Journal (registration required) takes his dig at the one party state and compares the Rhode Island General Assembly to the old Supreme Soviet in Moscow in a scathing editorial available here.

It's hard to disagree with the gist of Achorn's main argument, namely, that Rhode Island voters are "ill informed" and "apathetic" politically, and that we would certainly benefit from a healthier opposition party. I would, however, take exception to his claim that the state's Republican party (accurately, if sadly, described as a "pathetic joke") was "torn asunder" by the Senate primary race. After spending his entire article bemoaning the lack of real political choices in Rhode Island and the lack of close races, the Chafee-Laffey matchup provided Rhode Islanders with a chance to determine the direction of the opposition party it needs - always a good thing.

Deep in the hole.

$100 million is a lot of money - especially in a small state. So when the state with America's fourth highest overall tax burden finds itself staring down the barrel of a projected state budget shortfall that could go into the 9 figure range, you have to stop and ask yourself what's got Little Rhody deep in the red.

Not surprisingly, the cost of state employees and entitlement programs top the list of the fastest growing costs, while on the revenue side, the state saw declining sales tax revenue (those Massachusetts malls are but a short drive away) and declining gambling revenue. The Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council has a complete analysis of fiscal year 2007 here (warning - PDF file). Their recommendations of cutting the size of state government, scaling back the growth of state benefit programs and enacting tax reform to compete with Massachusetts on creating private sector jobs. Here, RIPEC and Governor Carcieri are in agreement, and it sounds fairly Republican. This may probably also explain why the overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature isn't biting.

If Rhode Island can learn anything from the state they used to call Taxachusetts, it's that tax decreases coupled with decreased state spending can, in fact, serve as a serious economic stimulant. It's ironic that Kennedy country benefited economically from Reaganesque supply side economics, but Massachusetts could teach Rhode Island a thing or two about fiscal discipline, private sector job growth and reducing the state tax burden (although with Governor-elect Deval Patrick ready to take office, this may change).

Finally, Dictators of the World has been updated with the latest on Fidel "Feelin' Ill" Castro and a look at retro-politics in Nigeria. If you don't read it, someone else just might!


There's just no polite way to say this: the Boston Celtics are off to a monumentally terrible start. At 1-6, they're the worst team in the league. They've squandered the "soft" schedule that saw them playing most of their November games at home. They managed to lose after having big leads, close games - you name it, they've found a way to lose. This is a team that had high hopes and big expectations, so what gives?

Sure, there have been some injuries. Al Jefferson will be out for a month after an emergency appendectomy, Theo Ratliff is nursing a herniated disc in his back, and Brian "Veal" Scalabrine has an as yet undiagnosed condition that causes him to be stiff, ham handed, and just plain suck at basketball. Second leading scorer Wally "Two Zs, no D" Szczerbiak even missed a game after straining his ass. Yes, his ass. Yet injuries alone cannot seem to account for the Celtics' woeful performances.

On paper, the Celtics have a fairly deep roster, at least by Eastern Conference standards. They've got depth at every position, and some players, like former Providence College standout Ryan Gomes, Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins and newcomer Sebastian Telfair are performing well.

Perhaps the Celtics had it coming when they dedicated their season to the recently deceased team patriarch Arnold "Red" Auerbach. Or perhaps, in keeping with someone's theory, there is a curse on the team after the recent decision to become the last team in the NBA to hire cheerleaders (or as that someone calls them, "dance skanks"). That last one is an intriguing theory, but big booties shimmying in tight spandex probably hasn't caused the team to stink up the floor.

If it's not a lack of talent, or cheerleaders, then what's got them playing so bad? I'm desperate to know. And if anyone can tell me, I beg you, tell Doc Rivers and Tony Brown so that they can help turn this mess around. I'll watch every game, win or lose, but I'd certainly get a bit more enjoyment if they weren't the laughing stock of the entire league.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Cry of the RINO

Let me start off by saying that I'm shamelessly breaking my promise to stop flogging the dead horse that was the 2006 elections. Lest I also forget to mention it, Dictators of the World has also been updated. That said, let's get to it.

Today's Providence Journal (registration required) has a lengthy article interviewing outgoing RINO Senator Lincoln Chafee. What gems of wisdom does he have to share with the people of Rhode Island regarding his loss to Sheldon Whitehouse?

To start with, Chafee blames "the right wing" of the Republican party for his loss. Sorry, Linc - I don't buy that. When someone's at the far left wing of the party, as you are, the middle looks like the far right. You played your cards right for being a Republican in Rhode Island but lest we forget, the electorate here leans fairly left of center. You ran as a Republican largely because you were appointed to the seat by a Republican governor who passed on the position like a Chafee family heirloom, and also because you had no connections to the state's powerful Democratic party machinery, where frankly, your ideological leanings wouldn't have caused so much as a ripple.

Frankly, Linc, I have no idea how Sheldon Whitehouse guessed that voters here are stupid enough to link you to the right wing of anything, or why you let him get away with it. After all, you could stop pretending to be a Republican the second you gained the votes of actual conservative Republicans by default after beating Steve Laffey in the primaries. Running as a Democrat who just happens to be related to a Chafee that the people of Rhode Island really liked was your best strategy, and you blew it.

Ron from Fall River raised an interesting point with me, saying that Chafee would have done well to follow the example of Senator Joe "Joe-mentum!" Lieberman and broken the party bonds by running as an independent. I completely concur. Unlike Lieberman, a solid Democrat who broke party ranks on exactly one issue, Chafee was at odds with Republicans on nearly everything under the sun - an understandable consequence of being a RINO. Yet those left-of-center politics, combined with his name recognition could have offset Sheldon Whitehouse's greatest, or rather only, campaign theme: "Lincoln Chafee's a Republican (boo! hiss!) and I'm not (hooray!)."

You tried to minimize your political risks by being a closet Democrat, Linc. I don't blame you there. After all, how the hell is a real conservative going to win in a state as blue as Rhode Island? But then Linc goes on to blame Steve Laffey of all people for his eventual choke job against Whitehouse, blasting Laffey for having "chose for his own self gratification to oppose a sitting Republican".

Yeah, the gall of that Laffey. Didn't he know this seat belongs to the Chafee family? Where did he get off, exactly, by running as an actual Republican? There's been a Chafee in the Senate for a long time, so it stands to reason, perhaps, that Linc hasn't exactly paid attention to his own party in a while. That's understandable. It explains why he's so dumbfounded at why Laffey chose to run, and why he almost beat Chafee in the primaries. I'll spell it out for you, Senator:

We like you better than Sheldon Whitehouse, but given a choice, Republican voters prefer actual Republican candidates.

Got that? Similarly, in a heavily Democratic state, the voters preferred bonafide Democrats who talk the Democrat talk and walk the Democrat walk to a Republican, no matter how skilled he is at imitating a Democrat. You got lucky once, but this time, Sheldon Whitehouse outflanked your left wing. Don Carcieri shows that the Governor's office is an exception (to offset the state legislature), but you were the rule this time around.

At the end of the interview, Chafee hints that he may leave the party, but not before describing himself as a "loyal Republican". I don't know how to put this nicely, Linc, but if that's loyalty, may God save us from treachery. Steve Laffey may have lost, but we didn't have to swallow our tongues when we voted for him.

Frankly, I like Lincoln Chafee. He seems like a decent man, and I'm sure I'll like him much more now that I don't have to admit he's my Senator. But if the "change" theme of the election rings true, it should also signal a change in the state party machinery. We don't have to vote for Chafee anymore just because we think he'll win - he's history. We have the freedom to start over in the opposition, and play a little offense for a change.

If anyone has Steve Laffey's number, I hope someone tells him to put any plans for 2008 on hold, because we'd love to see him run against Jack "The Invisible Man" Reed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

We wish you a speedy recovery

A certain someone's soul mate was rushed to the hospital yesterday with horrible stomach pains, and wound up receiving an emergency appendectomy. Get well soon, Al Jefferson!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

That's "Senator Douchebag" to you, pal.

The fat lady is howling. With all precincts reporting, incumbent RINO Lincoln Chafee will be heading back home to Exeter, and Sheldon Whitehouse will be heading to Washington. The final score, as they say in the sports business, was 197.5K to 171.3K - a virtual drubbing by Rhode Island standards. As much as I've dogged Chafee for his lack of strong convictions on, well, anything, I'd rather have suffered 10 years of Chafee to 10 minutes of Sheldon Whitehouse. Such are the breaks, I suppose.

On the plus side, however, Governor Donald Carcieri has been re-elected, squeaking out a close win over Lt. Governor Charlie Fogarty, and the West Warwick casino ballot question has been soundly defeated - by a margin larger than I ever imagined. You win some, you lose some, or as the man said:

You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when youre sittin at the table.
Therell be time enough for countin when the dealins done.

Thank goodness this silliness is done with - at least for the next two years, and I can get back to focusing on taking pictures of Rhode Island ... at least until the next time Patches Kennedy does something retarded again.

Senator elect Whitehouse exhorts the crowd to pull his finger

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election day

A word of warning: if you don't care who I'm voting for, just come back another time.

Today is election day, and somewhat surprisingly, Little Rhody is considered a battleground state for control of the US Senate. Our resident RINO, Lincoln Chafee, has finally managed to turn the tables on Democratic challenger Sheldon Whitehouse in the final pre-election polls, leaving it up to Rhode Island voters to determine the winner. For what it's worth, I'm going to swallow my bile and vote for Chafee. I'm not particularly fond of his politics, or his spineless devotion to staying away from any stance that would harm his chances of re-election in what is, possibly, America's bluest state, but I loathe Whitehouse's brainless left-wing populism even more.

I will also be voting to re-elect Governor Donald Carcieri. Let's just face it - the man hasn't given us very much to complain about, and he helps serve as an effective counterweight to the state senate.

I may also be voting for not one, but two!, Democrats this time around. To be honest, it's difficult to avoid in Rhode Island, but I believe David Cicilline has earned another term as mayor of Providence, and my congressman, Jim Langevin, hasn't any credible opposition worth voting for (although I haven't ruled out writing in François "Papa Doc" Duvalier because I'm just gully like that).

Then there are the ballot questions (viewable in a PDF file here). I'm going to vote one question 1, against the Narragansett Indian casino initiative, largely because the tribe's involvement will be limited to 5% or so of the profits, and because I'm not fond of the way Harrah's took the co-operation of the state electorate and our rotten legislators for granted.

I'm going to vote yes on question 2, for the restoral of voting rights to parolees and probationers. Frankly, if it were up to me, the voting rights of prisoners inside jails would be restored as well. After all, voting is a responsibility of every citizen, and incarceration, for whatever crime, does not invalidate one's citizenship.

I will also be voting yes on question 3, in the vain hopes that amending the state constitution will force our legislature into accepting fiscal discipline. The rest of the ballot questions are on bond issues on everything from the Roger Williams Zoo, to affordable housing, to educational grants.

Needless to say, I'm breathlessly awaiting the final results. Stay tuned, folks.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Stop the presses!

The Boston Globe has confirmed long standing rumors of a small state within commuting distance of Boston. This state, known as "Rhode Island", was long thought to be a hoax, but the intrepid reporters for their Sunday magazine segment have been to this "Ocean State" and have written a lengthy article about the Biggest Little.

Though most certainly not Rhode Island related, I've updated Dictators of the World, where the question of female dictators (or the lack thereof) is examined.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


It's been six months, but the Boston Celtics are almost ready to start the 2006 - 2007 NBA regular season. This season finds the team looking at the big questions. Will the Celtics win enough games to make the playoffs? Will Danny Ainge make more boneheaded trades? Will Rajon Rondo win Rookie of the Year honors? Will Sebastian Telfair find himself in hot water with the law? Will the Celtics beat the New Jersey Nets to take the top of the Atlantic Division? I don't know the answers, but I'm glad we won't have to wait much longer to find out.

I'm not even going to address basketball's emotional subcurrents that some people seem to find more interesting than the game itself, but I will certainly get a lump in my throat when the Celtics and the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets tip off on November 1st in Boston.

Monday, October 23, 2006

New photos, politics, the usual.

This weekend, I managed to get a few more pictures of Colt State Park in lovely Bristol. As always, I've got the photos up on Flickr.

In other Ocean State news, the world's shortest man has died in Providence of unknown causes. The race for Senate is also heating up, with Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse now leading Republican (and I use that term lightly) incumbent Lincoln Chafee in the polls by the margin of error: 4%.

I'm not sure why I used the death of Nelson de la Rosa as a lead in for the hideous Senate campaign, but I'd like to think that Nelson had more dignity with his disability than we've seen out of Chafee and Whitehouse. To be sure, this is a campaign that's alienated the rank and file of both parties.

Having viewed video recaps of the debate, it seems that Whitehouse has, perhaps unwisely, staked out ground well left of center. Whitehouse's repellent campaign ads appear to have been prepared by a checklist handed straight from the Huffington Post or Daily Kos: anti-Bush? Check! Using men and women in uniform as props? Check! Inferring that Lincoln Chafee is some sort of rabid right winger? Check! Chic anti-corporate rhetoric? Check! Senate election as referendum on Iraq? Check! Most absurdly, one Whitehouse spot filmed at the Warwick Mall makes the patently absurd claim that Chafee "owes George Bush too much".

Speaking as a rabid right winger, I can put the fears of Rhode Island's voters to rest - Lincoln Chafee is no right winger. In fact, most of the state's Republicans are going to swallow their bile before voting for him in November. The same pro-choice, pro-gay marriage Lincoln Chafee that voted against the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the same Chafee that announced he voted against Dubya in 2004, is a rabid, doctrinaire right winger? Nobody in Rhode Island is stupid enough to believe that, and I don't even think Whitehouse actually believes that gibberish.

Part of the problem Whitehouse is going to face is that while Rhode Island tilts Democratic at the polls, the majority of Rhode Island's Democratic voters are solidly centrist, and have demonstrated a willingness to vote Republican (Chafee and Donald Carcieri, for example). Whitehouse's blindingly shrill tone will not help him capture the undecided middle.

Chafee, for his part, has courted the undecided voters by going mellow where Whitehouse has gone shrill, saying that he's "right here in the middle - with you". He's also hit back at Whitehouse with a savage attack on Whitehouse's record as Attorney General, inferring that Whitehouse lacks the ethics and backbone to serve. Ouch. It's only going to get nastier from here on in, and I haven't even begun talking about the race for Governor yet.

Finally, lest I forget, Dictators of the World has been updated as well. Go on and get your tyrant on.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


It's official - Esteban Carpio has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2005 murder of Detective James Allen. On one level, I have to hand it to Esteban: he fought tooth and nail to get off the hook: mounting an insanity defense, claiming (perhaps somewhat credibly) that he was deliberately beaten to a pulp by The Man, and letting public advocacy groups paint him as the real victim.

After his conviction in June, Carpio was finally sentenced on Tuesday to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, one for the murder of James Allen, and the second for "discharging a firearm while comitting a violent crime". As a cherry on the proverbial sundae, Carpio earned another 20 years for stabbing an 84 year old woman in the back - the crime that brought him before Detective Allen in the first place.

Esteban Carpio is not lucky in very many senses of the word, but he certainly is lucky that he comitted his crimes in Rhode Island, a state without a death penalty. Had Esteban Carpio been convicted in Delaware, Florida, or Texas, he'd be dead before his 40th birthday.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New photos: Burrillville

It's fall in New England, and more than dead leaves, October signals the beginning of apple picking season. The Hobo Law Student and I travelled to the far northwest reaches of Rhode Island, to Burrillville, to get them while they're fresh. Naturally, I've created a photoset on Flickr to document the experience.

Presuming that everyone who stuck around to trade barbs in the What Cheer? thread is still around, where should I go next for pictures of the Ocean State? So far, my most glaring omissions are Woonsocket, Cranston, Johnston and Hopkinton, but I'm open to any sensible suggestions.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Lucky #7

Rhode Island isn't famous for very much, but the Ocean State certainly has developed a notoriety for attaching a bizarre premium on low numbered license plates.

How much would you pay for the number 7? $500? $1,000? Well, a man in Lincoln has forked over $25,000 for the rights to lucky #7. Aside from the money, all he had to do next was wait 20 years, and wait for former Governor Bruce Sundlun's wife to get tired of it. Politics, intrigue and high stakes - the Providence Journal (registration required) has the only-in-Rhode-Island story right here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Chafee to voters: "don't box me in"

Fresh from his defeat of Steve Laffey, our incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee is now starting to grasp that he's actually going to have to fight tooth and nail to defeat Democratic rival Sheldon Whitehouse and retain his Senate seat. While Chafee's status as Washington's top RINO hurt him with Republican primary voters, he's banking on using it as an asset against Whitehouse.

This is a predictable, if still shrewd, move, by Chafee to finally account for his tendency to talk and vote like a Senate Democrat when courting Democrat leaning voters at home, with the logic being 'I'm essentially a Democrat, and an incumbent to boot.'

Chafee's first campaign ads have been launched, and he's attempting to go straight down the middle of the road:
I was attacked by the right for being too liberal; now I'm being attacked by the left for being too conservative. That puts me in the middle, where I've always been, with you.
The Providence Journal (registration required) details how Chafee's neither-fish-nor-foul is attempting to throw a wrench into the attempts by Whitehouse's campaign to portray him as some sort of fire breathing right wing monster. This, of course, is gibberish. Sheldon Whitehouse wouldn't know a right winger if one came into his house and shat in his merlot. As a bonafide right winger, I can tell you that other right wingers here in Rhode Island and across America regard Lincoln Chafee as something of a leper. Granted, he's a leper that can help prevent Harry Reid from becoming Senate majority leader, but a leper all the same.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Nolo contendere

Brothers Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, owners of The Station nightclub have pled no contest to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter for their role in the 2003 fire that killed 100 of their patrons. The Providence Journal has the full story here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Laffey run down by RINO

It's all over. Steve Laffey (pictured above at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick) has conceded defeat to incumbent Lincoln Chafee in yesterday's Republican primary elections, with Chafee winning 54.2% to 45.7%

The rest of the election results revealed few surprises. Governor Donald Carcieri (who ran unopposed in the Republican primary) will be running for re-election against his enormously large foreheaded Lieutenant Governor Charlie Fogarty (who also ran unopposed in the Democratic primary).

In the race for the House, Patches Kennedy ran unopposed on the Democratic ticket in District 1, and District 2 Democratic incumbent Jim Langevin crushed plucky Jennifer Lawless.

Best of all Carl Sheeler finished with less than 8% of the vote in the Democratic Senate race, behind Sheldon Whitehouse (who won a monstrous 81.6% of the vote) and Christopher F. Young (10.4%). That the DailyKos styled progressive candidate, Sheeler, finished behind Young, a candidate who made no effort to advertise - or even create a webpage for his campaign - adds a delicious touch of schadenfreude, especially after his bizarre comments on this blog.

So what's next? I hold my nose and vote for Chafee when I have to choose between him and Sheldon Whitehouse, but hold my head up high voting to re-elect Governor Carcieri and Providence Mayor David Cicilline.

So how did I do scorecard wise? Just terrible, thanks. Steve Laffey, Kernan King and Dave Talan all lost. Carcieri won the Republican nomination, but only because he ran unopposed.

UPDATE: The national press has gone home after Laffey conceded, and can safely go back to ignoring Rhode Island until Chafee's make-or-break stand on election day (or until we have another lethal nightclub fire, whichever comes first).

UPDATE II: Though it has nothing to do with Rhode Island, the Dictators of the World blog has been updated.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hot, fresh exit polling - right here

Though nobody's asking, I'm just narcissistic enough to tell the entire world how I voted in today's Republican primaries:

Senate: Steve Laffey
Governor: Donald "Don" Carcieri
Lt. Governor: Kernan King
Mayor: Dave Talan

Bear in mind that it's only the primaries. In the (unfortunately likely) event that Lincoln Chafee beats Steve Laffey, I'll swallow my bile and vote for Chafee before voting for the abhorrent Sheldon Whitehouse. Similarly, Dave Talan's odds of becoming mayor of Providence are roughly equivalent to my chances of becoming Miss Venezuela. In fact, David Cicilline will likely be the second Democrat I've ever voted for. Who was the first, you ask ... ?

Primary elections held today

Today is the big day, when primary voters in Rhode Island will go to the polls to nominate candidates to appear on the ballot come election day. On the federal level are nominations in the races for the US Senate seat currently held by RINO Lincoln Chafee, the first district Congressional seat currently occupied by Patrick "Patches" Kennedy, and the second district Congressional seat currently held by Democrat James Langevin, and on the state level, the offices of Secretary of State and Lieutenant Governor, as well as a host of local races.

So who am I, a registered Republican, voting for in the state's biggest race? This is, apparently, the million dollar question, and judging by the contents of my mailbox over the past month, I'm one of the most sought after voters in the entire state. However, anyone who's read my blog at all already knows who I'm voting for: it's going to be Steve Laffey all the way.

I can't wait until the dust settles from this one.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Woman jumps from Jamestown bridge

The Providence Journal (registration required) is reporting that a 37 year old North Kingstown woman killed herself by jumping off the Jamestown-Verrazano bridge. The woman survived the jump from the bridge and was pulled out of the water, and was coherent enough to answer questions en route to the hospital before dying that afternoon of her injuries. The story can be read in its entirety here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What cheer?

My apologies for the lack of updates, folks. I've spent most of the last week putting the finishing touches on a home built PC. Why didn't anyone tell me these new dual core Pentium 4 processors get so hot? I found myself having gone to somewhat extreme lengths to bring temperatures down to an acceptable level. Memo to everyone: factory heatsinks and heatsink fans are garbage.

On the serious tip, a friend told me about the sad and outrageous case of Anthony Maini of Johnston, who was arraigned on Friday on one count of second degree child molestation, after which, he took his own life on Sunday. What the news accounts apparently fail to mention is that the charges had been dropped after the police determined that the victim fabricated the accusation.

When, exactly, did child molestation start carrying a heavier social stigma than murder? If someone had accused him of murder, society could live with it, but the stigma attached to the mere accusation proved to be a fate worse than death, even when he knew he was innocent. Words fail to convey the tragedy that's taken place here.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Brothel owner busted in Providence

A 51 year old Korean woman was arrested in downtown Providence as federal agents moved in to shut down a human trafficking ring on the east coast. Kyong Polachek (aka "Big Sister MaekDo") who runs the Down Town Spa in Downcity, stands accused of holding a woman against her will to work as a prostitute.

While human trafficking and immigration charges may apply, the authorities have no basis for another charge: prostitution. In Rhode Island, prostitution is legal so long as it occurs indoors (streetwalkers and johns doing business outdoors are routinely busted).

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Club for Growth endorses Laffey

Lincoln Chafee must have seen this coming: the ultra-conservative Club for Growth has announced that they have endorsed Steve Laffey for US Senate. Of course, organizations like the Club for Growth don't have very much political influence in Rhode Island, but for registered Republicans, the endorsement goes a long way towards establishing Laffey's bonafides as a fiscal conservative.

The Club president, Rhode Island native Pat Toomey, is aware of the risks of having Laffey win the primary only to get clobbered by a Democrat in a heavily Democratic state like Rhode Island, saying:
"First, it wouldn't be much of a loss if a new Democrat senator were elected, as he would vote much the same as Chafee does now. Second, it is unlikely this loss would result in tipping control of the Senate back to the Democrats -- though that, too, can't be ruled out. If Republicans lose so many seats that the Rhode Island race is crucial, Chafee would probably lose, too."
That's something something I, and most other Rhode Island Republicans, have been saying for months now. Even if Laffey were nominated and lost to Sheldon Whitehouse, the difference between Whitehouse and Chafee's voting records in the senate would be more or less the same. Unlike Connecticut's Joe Lieberman who actually voted with the Democratic party line on nearly everything but the Iraq war, Chafee's a bonafide RINO who would be running as a Democrat if he had any connections in Rhode Island's powerful party apparatus.

Monday, August 14, 2006

幸せ 終戦記念日

For those who cannot read Japanese, Rhode Island celebrates Victory over Japan Day today, the second Monday of August. While the real 61st anniversary of what in Japan is called "memorial day for the end of the war" is tomorrow, Rhode Island remains the last state in the union to commemorate the end of the second world war.

The famous kiss pictured above has Rhode Island ties too, as the Naval War College has identified the sailor in the picture as none other than Newport's own George Mendonça. I do hope everyone takes time during the day to remember just how momentous an occasion our victory over the imperial Japanese war machine truly was, and at what terrible cost it was won.

Roger Wheeler Beach

I have yet more photos of Rhode Island available here on Flickr. This time, the destination was Roger Wheeler beach in Narragansett. The sky and clouds were absolutely phenomenal, even though it was fairly chilly for a beach day smack dab in the middle of August.

As for what's new in Rhode Island, the venerable Newport Jazz Festival just wound up. I really, honestly had no idea Dave Brubeck was still alive., much less touring. Obviously, apologies are in order.

Lincoln Chafee launched a new campaign ad on TV called "Bully", which paints his Republican primary opponent Steve Laffey as some sort of lunatic in favor of old people dropping dead. Don't bother looking for it on his website, because it's not there. Having seen the ad, I'm just counting down the days until I can vote against Chafee.

The Providence Journal, ever eager to read too much into things, wonders if Chafee's situation is comparable to Joe "Joementum!" Lieberman's defeat in Connecticut. The answer is: probably not. You're not going to find Republican activists from around the country flooding Rhode Island with out of state money and activists looking to "punish" Chafee for being a raging DINO, largely because Republicans have worked to expand their base to include people like Chafee. While Democratic activists have sought to punish "heretics" like Lieberman for his pro-Iraq war stance, the Republicans were actually serious about looking for "converts", and creating a "big tent". I'm not happy about Chafee's voting record, or about his sleazy smears on Steve Laffey, but he'll certainly get my vote over Sheldon Whitehouse when push comes to shove.

In other news, more tedious business about the proposed Narragansett Indian casino. It's been put back on the ballot thanks to the Supreme Court, but I'm still not entirely enthused about having a large casino in West Warwick. Put it in Central Falls, and maybe I'm sold on the idea that it's going to pump money into the local economy, revitalize communities, and all that. West Warwick doesn't need any of that as much as Central Falls, after all.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

New photos: Block Island and Narragansett

I have returned from a Saturday excursion to Block Island with fresh photos on Flickr, both of lovely New Shoreham on the island and of Point Judith in Narragansett. The weather was perfect, as the heat wave broke but the water was warm enough to stay in all day long. Quite possibly the beach day of the year.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


It's ridiculously hot. It's got nothing specifically to do with Rhode Island, of course, but there are occasionally people (mostly from the south) who think New England is a frozen wasteland year round.

It's not.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Chafee and Laffey to go mano a mano

Lincoln Chafee and primary challenger Steve Laffey have agreed to a series of four debates before the September 12th Republican senate primary. The Providence Journal has the times and dates here.

I suppose there should be, at least in theory, a series of debates on the Democratic side, but why bother? Sheldon Whitehouse is going to crush his bolshevik primary opponent Carl Sheeler so badly that televised debates would simply clutter up the earth's electromagnetic spectrum. That one is in the bag, folks.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Ridiculous puff piece

Today's Providence Journal (registration, as always, tediously required) features an absolutely nauseating puff piece about a 99 year old man who loves Patches Kennedy called, appropriately enough, "Love Stories". I know it was a slow news weekend, and that Rhode Island is a deep blue state, but this article appears to be little more than an unpaid political advertisement for our cretinous junior congressman. On the other hand, I was surprised to find this cogent editorial analyzing the orgy of greed surrounding the lead paint lawsuits in Rhode Island. To wit:
Advocates of suing paint makers now hope to get their hooks into the companies over the legacy of lead paint. The companies stopped selling the product for home use half a century ago -- well before the federal government banned it -- and the statute of limitations has long expired under product-liability laws. Such laws protect companies (which, remember, are people, not an alien species) from being destroyed by actions they took in the distant past, when knowledge of products' dangers and public willingness to accept risk were much different from now.
Speaking of unpaid advertisements, I have updated the Dictators of the World blog after over a month of silence. July is a month for vacations, after all ...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

New photos of Rhode Island

I have finally taken some new pictures, this time, from Scarborough beach in Narragansett. As always, I have put them up on Flickr for viewing.

The trip down route 4 was pleasant enough, until suddenly, at the Route 1 intersection, senator Lincoln Chafee and a group of his supporters were out waving "KEEP CHAFEE" signs. A pretty shrewd move, though - on a Saturday in July, there are tens of thousands of people headed south on 4, so he got some decent exposure. I still expressed my displeasure with a hand gesture.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Brotherhood, episode 3

I have no idea why I keep watching Brotherhood. The first two episodes suggest that the entire series is going to be little more than a knock off of The Sopranos with bad, fake New England accents and a Providence setting. Did the third episode change anything?

No, not really, although the third episode wasn't quite as tedious as the first two. Set against the background a city garbage strike, the third episode of Brotherhood explores the real life interplay of politics in Rhode Island with regards to the balance of power between state and city leaders, and the unions and organized crime.

As in real life, the series' protagonist, Tommy Caffee, is paid less than poverty line wages for his job as a state representative since Rhode Island does not have a full time legislature, and supplements his income as a real estate developer.

So when one of Tommy the private citizen's sales to an out of state client is in put in jeopardy by the mountains of trash on the streets of Providence, Tommy the politician looks for a way to help resolve the strike. While enterprising private garbage removers are kicked around by thugs acting on behalf of an organized crime syndicate, Tommy Caffee attempts to jiggle the levers of power, lobbying the mayor of Providence, the mob boss who controls the union, and one of Rhode Island's congressmen to help end the strike, and salvage his real estate deal. In the meantime, the people of Providence put up with mountains of rotting garbage and the millions of rats that feast on it. As noted earlier, Brotherhood gets points for accurately depicting the way the politics in Rhode Island actually work behind the scenes.

If any of this sounds familiar, it's because Providence was paralyzed by a garbage strike during the Cianci administration, but the real life strike was much more entertaining than the one on television. When you think about it, there's really no excuse for fiction being less entertaining than the truth, now is there?

In the meantime, there is a subplot with Tommy's unfaithful wife (played by Annabeth Gish sporting a godwaful fake Boston accent) , and a surprisingly lifeless subplot where Tommy's gangster brother, Mike, tries to recruit a gang of aging hoodlums so he can revive the career so rudely interrupted by a stint in the ACI. Perhaps The Sopranos has satisfied America's appetite for crime dramas, but blame the producers and writers of Brotherhood for making their own depiction of the New England underworld so leaden and lifeless. I know I do.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Jim Langevin and other nuisances

It appears that my incumbent Congressman, Democrat James Langevin (pictured above) will be running for re-election without a Republican opponent. This marks the first time in the last 149 years that there has been no Republican candidate for congress in the second congressional district. I'm not even going to pretend to be outraged - Langevin is completely unbeatable here. Unlike his cretinous colleague from the first congressional district, James Langevin keeps a low profile in both his professional and private life, and barring any drunk driving or date rape scandals, will be re-elected by comfortable margin just as long as he remains an incumbent and a Democrat. This seat is his for nearly as long as he chooses to hold it.

Lest I get started on the dismal state of politics on Rhode Island, it's time to focus on another irritating pest, only this one is responsible for the closure of beaches in Westerly and Charlestown this past weekend: the loathesome Portuguese Man o' War. This aquatic nuisance managed to sting two small children, forcing the closure of both public and private beaches throughout Westerly and Charlestown. The Providence Journal (registration required) has the story here.

Commonly mistaken for a jellyfish, the Portuguese Man o' War is actually a colony of invertebrates known as a siphonophore. Did you know that? I certainly didn't. Whatever it is, it's a completely detestable animal, and the invetebrates that it's composed of should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Also sprach Sheeler

Apparently, my humble blog has, inexplicably, attracted the attention of the future Senator representing the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations!

Ok, so I lied. But I seem to have attracted Carl Sheeler's attention. Sheeler, or some kind member of his campaign staff, has taken the time to follow up to my post on the Chafee/Laffey race for the Republican nomination. What's more, they did so at 4:11 in the morning which is, frankly, a bit odd. I mentioned Sheeler and his primary opponent Sheldon Whitehouse only in passing when I mentioned that I will stoop so low as to vote for Lincoln Chafee if and or when he beats Steve Laffey for the Republican nomination as to avoid voting for Whitehouse or Sheeler. Here's what the candidate (or his staff) had to say in response to my post:
Sheldon has a primary and his numbers are not nearly as strong as reported. There are a dozen Democratic primaries in Providence ward seats with most have Latino challengers. Latinos and minorities account for 17% of the state population and are concentrated in the city and surrounding areas.

Sheldon does not poll well with minorities.

Okay, I'll bite. What makes one an imbecile by your account?
So why did Carl Sheeler look for his name on my blog and post a response? I have no idea. Perhaps he's bought into the myth that this is the year political bloggers tip the scales. Ask Howard Dean how that went, Carl. An endorsement from DailyKos or the Huffington Post is completely worthless, because both of them will nominate any candidate they presume to be either furthest left of center, or most vocally opposed to their "enemies" on the right. If you want endorsements from Kos or Arianna Huffington, don't waste your breath: you've already got them by default. If you're looking for a Rhode Island blog to endorse you or post fund raising links, you've obviously come to the wrong place here.
As for his comment, I'd like to start by informing Mr. Sheeler that I live on Federal Hill in Providence (not West Greenwich), and I already knew that "latinos and minorities account for 17% of the state population and are concentrated in the city and surrounding areas" because my neighborhood, and surrounding neighborhoods, are largely black and latino. This is obviously in sharp contrast to rural West Greenwich.

Sadly, it's my duty to inform Carl Sheeler that I haven't posted anything about the Democratic primary race itself, much less how Sheeler and Whitehouse poll with Latino voters in Providence. Where he imagines he saw, or read, anything about that on my blog is a complete mystery to me. My own interest in the Democratic primary has been tempered by the fact that I'm a registered Republican, and I won't be voting in the Democratic primary. How well you or Sheldon Whitehouse do among minority voters doesn't make a thimbleful of difference to me or how I'm going to vote. So do I have any comment on your race for senate? And why do I believe that you, my friend, are an imbecile?

Personally, if Sheldon Whitehouse doesn't beat you by at least 15 points, it'll only be because he's either broke or engaged in some scandal so horrendous that it will actually make the news, a la Matt Brown's funding fiascoes. He's got name recognition, he's got the money, he's got you pretty much where he wants you, Carl.

Secondly, as much as it might astonish Carl, I supported the war in Iraq in 2003, and I still support it now. I would also support an invasion of North Korea, Syria, Zimbabwe, and a long list of politically repressive dicatorships where the human rights of its captive citizens are completely worthless, because I believe that the strong and free have an obligation to those held in thrall by tyrants. My feelings on this matter are especially strong when they have the entire world guessing whether or not they have, or are close to having, weapons of mass destruction. I believe in using military might to defeat tyrants, as much for Saddam as for Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. That George Bush took the enormous political risk to overthrow Saddam says something impressive to me about his character.

That Carl Sheeler would appear to want to withdraw and flee Iraq at any cost says something depressing to me about his character, and is my primary evidence in my characterization of him as an imbecile. What's more, putting "Bu$h" on a billboard removed any doubt that he's an imbecile. A juvenile style is a reflection of a juvenile mind. I don't take people who write "AmeriKKKa" seriously, so why should I take you seriously, Carl? Even some of my friends who are Democrats wince when they see that, as well they should. It's one thing to read DailyKos, Carl - it's another thing to mirror your style after it.

Now that Carl has come and gone, who can I expect to see comments from next? I'm hoping for Steve Laffey, but I'd settle for Sheldon Whitehouse now. Maybe he'd at least read one of my posts thoroughly before posting on it?

Pointless update: I left a comment for Sheeler at his blog directing him to the response he claimed to have wanted, but he has not deigned to publish it. In fact, none of the posts on his blogs appear to have comments. Is that really a smart decision for someone attempting to hop on the blogger bandwagon?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Mr. Potato Head plates are back!

Rhode Island native Mr. Potato Head is back - on Rhode Island license plates. For a $40 fee, drivers in Rhode Island can replace their current Rhode Island license plates with Mr. Potatohead plates to help benefit the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. The PDF order form can be found right here.

On a related note, I'm having way, way too much fun with the DMV's vanity license plate generator (found here). I tried "QUAHOG", but alas, it was unavailable. "CRN VIC" appears to be available, though.

Brotherhood, episode deux

Episode II of Showtime's series "Brotherhood" was on last night, and despite my misgivings about the plot, characters and acting. Why? The scenery, naturally.

In the second episode, some mention is finally made of actual ethnic groups that really do live in Rhode Island when the lead character Tommy Caffee visits a Portuguese festival, and in a nod to actual Rhode Island politics, bribes a Portuguese state senator. Bonus points are awarded for calling Portugal a "poor man's Spain", although this probably won't go over well with actual Portuguese in Rhode Island. I also found myself recognizing locations in Valley and Manton in a driving scene, and as before, plenty of side streets in my own neighborhood, Federal Hill, most of which looks every bit as terrible as it does in real life, something I'm completely in favor of.

As noted before, there are barely enough Irish in Providence to fill the Green Bar (as seen in the show), much less provide the muscle for an Irish crime syndicate. Out in Los Angeles, "New England" is more or less synonymous with "Boston", which also accounts for the bad Boston accents on the show. I don't know whether to blame the "dialogue coach" or the actors. Take your pick.

At this rate, I'm not sure I'll stick around for episode III, but if I have nothing else to do at 10:00 PM next Sunday ....

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Biggest Little Taxes in America

Way back during the Dukakis years, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts earned the unfortunate nickname of "Taxachusetts" in honor of having one of the highest tax burdens in the nation. Oh, how times have changed. Nowadays, Massachusetts is ranked #32 in the nation, while Little Rhody has climed all the way up to #4. Don't worry - with a little effort, we can beat Maine, New York and Hawaii to earn our rightful place at the top.

Now, CNN Money has made clear to the nation what everyone in Rhode Island knows: that it costs an arm and a leg to drive or smoke in the Ocean State. As someone who drives a car with a V8 engine, that 30 cents per gallon state tax is a killer, but it's nowhere near as shocking as a whopping $2.46 per pack cigarette tax. I can scarcely believe anyone would be stupid enough to buy cigarrettes in Rhode Island at that price, but there you have it.

What can I say? Such is the price we pay for living the good life in Rhode Island.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


One of Rhode Island's most infamous mobsters has been taken out of the loansharking game - for now.

65 year old Anthony "The Saint" St. Laurent of Johnston, a notorious loanshark affiliated with the sad remnants of the Providence based la cosa nostra franchise, entered a plea bargain yesterday on charges that he attempted to extort $200,000 from two men in Massachusetts. An unnamed state police source is also claiming that St. Laurent offered to pay someone $20,000 to have a man who defaulted on his payments murdered. So what's the twist?

St. Laurent is 65 years old, but elderly mafiosi are nothing new. What's remarkable about St. Laurent is the claim by his lawyer (John F. Cicilline) that his client requires new fewer than 40 (yes, forty) enemas a day - a medical condition that accounts for his predictable alternate nickname: "Public Enema #1".

What could possibly account for a need to constantly flush out your colon? Does he eat 8 pounds of peanut butter and brick chocolate per day? Did he last eat fiber during the Nixon administration? His lawyer won't comment, but it's fairly obvious that the claim is intended to try to wrangle out a house arrest sentence for his odious client instead of having him put behind bars. Apparently, a Patriarca capo named Bobby DeLuca fingered The Saint as both an FBI and Rhode Island State Police snitch back in 2001, so it is, perhaps, understandable that he wishes to stay away from dangerous convicts, but really: if a capo named someone as a snitch 5 years ago, why is he still alive today? Ray Patriarca Sr. would never have stood for it. I suppose all of America's traditional institutions are in a similar state of decline. Sic gloria transit and all that.

I don't think the judge will buy the defendant's claim of requiring such intensive anal irrigation, and while The Saint is frail and in ill health, he has little to look forward to beyond dying in jail sans, of course, his 40 daily colon blastings.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Laffey blasted by NRSC

The National Republican Senatorial Committee ("NRSC") has blasted Cranston Mayor (and Republican US Senate candidate) Steve Laffey for allegedly misusing public funds in Cranston to promote his run for the US Senate. The NSRC, who have endorsed incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee in the upcoming Republican primary, allege that Laffey inserted campaign advertisements in Cranston tax bills as a form of franking. The Providence Journal (registration required) goes over the accusation, and Laffey's denial of wrongdoing, here.

Ironically, I just received a very similar sort of mass mailing from Lincoln Chafee's office, with the Senator attaching what could, or could not, be construed as statements promoting Lincoln Chafee's leadership, concern and vision for Rhode Island in a mass mailing about water quality. I've since thrown the damned thing away.

Laffey's in a tough spot here. In a state where registered Republicans are few and far between, he's won the hearts of the party faithful, but lags far behind in funds and name recognition. Additionally, the national party apparatchiks have already decided to endorse Lincoln Chafee, astonishingly, with nearly no reservations. I've received no fewer than five mass mailings from the Chafee campaign, to one one from Steve Laffey.

I've gone over this before, but I'm dismayed that the national GOP machinery is promoting a RINO hack like Chafee at the expense of someone with actual conservative bonafides like Laffey in order to keep Chafee's senate seat Republican. A Democrat like Joe Lieberman would preferable, to me, over a Republican like Chafee, but I'll vote for Chafee if it means keeping imbeciles like Sheldon Whitehouse or Carl Sheeler away from Washington.

Blue Shutters beach

I know - I was just in Charlestown in May, but it's July, and a man's thoughts turn towards going to Blue Shutters beach for sun and surf. Well, surf anyway, since it was mostly overcast, but a good time was had all the same.

So what does a Rhode Island beach look like when it's packed for the summer? As always, I've got the photos on Flickr to show you.