Category Archives: 2010 elections


Another busy day, so here’s a quick link to a fine story from the ProJo. My neighbor was ‘poll spotting’ this Tuesday and I ran into her as she checked off names. She said, ‘I’d walk through fire to vote.’

We claim to export democracy, and love the ‘purple fingers’ in the photos from Iraq, where voting is dangerous. But something isn’t right at home. Too many of us surrender the vote, and fail to participate.

But this story is a bright spot– interviewing voters at the polls–
What a Democracy is All About by G. Wayne Miller.

Linc Chafee

No time to write today, but there’s a good post on Providence Daily Dose.

Ask for I.D. at the Polls

No, not voter I.D. I’m saying that there are a lot of people who hang out at the polls, and not all of them are poll workers– some are poll-watchers, a longstanding political tradition and guard against voter fraud.

I was talking with a co-worker yesterday and mentioned the election.

“I don’t know if I’ll vote”, she said, “it doesn’t make any difference”. Of course I launched into a sermon about the urgent call for citizens to uphold our democracy and all that stuff.

Then she told me that the last time she went she was hassled, and treated rudely, and what’s more– saw other voters stepping out of line with no objections.

I told her that this may have been overzealous poll watchers, because the workers at my polling place are efficient and pleasant, but poll watchers may be poorly trained– they may get away with annoying voters unless it gets extreme enough to call the cops.

I privately wondered if she had been profiled by overzealous poll watchers who are hopped up on stories of illegal voters, and think they know what those voters might look like. They might make things just unpleasant enough to make a citizen think twice about taking time out of work to wait in line and risk more of the same.

So, vote as if you life depended on it. Vote for our troops who fight in our name for reasons increasingly unclear. Vote for every one of your ancestors who was denied.

And if anyone steps in to interfere with you– ask them for I.D.

UPDATE: I just voted, it was a breeze, but kind sad about that. Turnout is very light as of 9:30am. A neighbor was volunteering as a ‘poll spotter’. She was checking off names on a list of registered voters as they came in. She said that if anyone is treated with any less than helpfulness and respect, get their name and call the Secretary of State.

I want to acknowledge all the poll workers over the years who were always a help and are dedicated to the process.

Chuck Levesque for Senate

Rhode Island’s Future reports that State Senator Chuck Levesque faces a tough race in his district of Bristol/Portsmouth.

I saw Sen. Levesque at the hearings on human trafficking, and he showed a real concern for passing laws that would really help people who are exploited. There was a lot of pressure, and anyone who questioned making indoor prostitution illegal was accused of not caring about victims of trafficking. We did get an anti-trafficking law passed in 2007, but we don’t have a constituency that cares about people who might be here illegally or might have trouble with the law. The problem of trafficking won’t be solved by putting a few women in jail. Sen.Levesque knew that and was slandered for saying so.

I saw the General Assembly in action a few times when going to testify about a bill. Chuck Levesque always made a good impression.

Most of the time I was encouraged to see how thoughtfully our representatives discussed each bill and the respect they showed for the citizens and the process. To just call them all corrupt is lazy thinking. More often than not, our government is as good as we make it.

See Rhode Island’s Future for more on this race. Chris Ottiano, the Republican candidate is a vascular surgeon. It amuses me that some commenters take it as a given that a doctor will automatically be a better legislator than a lawyer. I wouldn’t count on it, no offense to the good doctors I’ve worked with. Like in any other profession, there’s bad apples too.

Sample Ballot

Here’s where you can get a print-out of the ballot. I know that Kmareka readers know who they’re voting for, but there’s some fine print on the bond issues that you don’t want to have to be squinting at in the booth on Tuesday.

I’m all for buying the old Rocky Point Park as a public park. It’s a good time to do it and an investment in the future.

Carly Fiorina– Get Well Soon

I want desperately for Barbara Boxer to win the race for the Senate, and I want Carly Fiorina to win her battle against cancer and its complications. She is in the hospital being treated for an infection related to surgery.

We’re all in the human race, and women, especially, understand.

“We wish Carly Fiorina a speedy recovery and hope she is able to return to her normal schedule soon,” Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski said.

First lady Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and Boxer all used speeches at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Los Angeles Tuesday to wish Fiorina a speedy recovery.

UPDATE: Carly Fiorina should be back on the campaign trail as this goes to press. When it’s pathogens vs humans, I’ll vote for the humans every time. Congratulations, Carly. Now I hope Barbara Boxer wins the Senate race, because she is the better candidate.


Linc Chafee could say that he did not leave the Republican Party– the Party left him. He had the integrity to vote his conscience against a war based on lies. Steve Laffey tried to grab the momentum of the right wing, and moved in, but only suceeded in helping to put Sheldon Whitehouse in the Senate.

Chafee is the last of the old-style Republicans, and in this political climate a progressive. Why would Caprio be dealing with Laffey, if not from simple craving to win at any cost?

Today’s ProJo reports on the rumor that Caprio was considering switching parties…

John P. Dodenhoff, the former campaign manager for Republican Stephen Laffey, says that he was invited to lunch in February by Michael Lepizzera — a Cranston lawyer and Republican operative — who broached the idea of Caprio running as a Republican.

Caprio and Lepizzera, who is supporting Caprio for governor, dispute Dodenhoff’s account. They say that Lepizzera acted on his own, and that his overtures went nowhere.

Dodenhoff told The Journal Monday that he explicitly asked Lepizzera if Caprio approved of the approach.

“He said, ‘Frank might want to come over,’ ” recalled Dodenhoff. “I was taken aback. I said, ‘Geez, Frank Caprio a Republican? I don’t know how that’s gonna fly.’ I asked Mike if this was just him brainstorming … or is this something that Frank knew about, and he said yes. Then I asked if his father, [Providence Municipal Court] Judge [Frank] Caprio, was on board, and I was told yes.”

There is an actual Republican in this race, John Robitiaille, who seems like a decent human being and can be trusted to give us more of what we’ve had with Governor Carcieri. I’ve had enough of that, and enough of Democrats who try to prove that there’s no difference between the parties. I’m voting for Chafee.

I’m Voting for Chafee

I missed his voice of conscience in the Senate, where he was the only Republican to vote against the use of force in Iraq– one of the few who had the political courage to stand against a war of choice that still takes the lives of American soldiers and Iraqui civilians. He served a term as mayor of Warwick, and did a decent job. And it’s a good idea to have an independent voice.

And today, there’s this…

Obama is scheduled to visit Rhode Island on Monday, but according to The Providence Journal, won’t be endorsing anyone.
Fellow Democrat Frank Caprio tells WPRO-AM that Obama can “take his endorsement and shove it.”

Chafee has not run the best campaign, and I’ve been frustrated about that, because I think he’s the best candidate. Caprio’s temper tantrum on the air looks bad for him and doesn’t reflect well on the state.

I first saw this story on Salon. We’re national again, and it’s not even Chris Young this time. Rhode Island’s Future has more…

Caprio was referring to a news report in this morning’s Providence Journal that says that during President Obama’s campaign visit to the State today Caprio will not be receiving the endorsement of the President. Caprio went on to tell Depetro that Obama treats Rhode Island “like an ATM machine” and was critical of Mr. Obama’s decision not to visit the State during the flooding on 2009, comparing his disfavorably to Republican President George Bush, who is Caprio’s eyes, at least did a “fly over” after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.

re: Rhode Island’s Katrina– I didn’t recall anyone dying in the floods last spring, forgive me if I’m wrong on that. It was certainly severe for the areas that got the worst of it.
Rhode Island got $111 million in federal aid–

Would a visit by the president have pumped out the basements faster?

Oh God, it’s even on CNN.

You won’t see many links to Anchor Rising on this site, but here’s a post about a rumored approach to the GOP by Caprio’s campaign early this year.

Taking One for the Team?

Less than two weeks mid-term elections, a devout Tea Party activist decided to bring an old Republican scandal out front and center. The Clarence Thomas hearings never did settle the question of whether Thomas was falsely accused of crude and harassing behaviour to an employee. Anita Hill, in her subsequent life as a law professor, did nothing to suggest that she was unstable or a publicity-seeker. The episode came down to ‘he said, she said’ and was largely forgotten. Thomas, when he was discussed at all, was criticized or praised for his judicial conduct.

And then Ginni Thomas re-opened the whole painful mess, when she grabbed the phone at 7:30am on a Saturday and left a recording. Why not a carefully worded letter? Why not a tactful approach through an intermediary? This looked like the kind of impulsive thing you might do when you are under the influence of something.

I am leaning to the Serena Joy theory. Ms. Thomas was pumped up on the high of her political movement, she surrounded herself with true believers, and it seemed obvious that Prof. Hill must be living a life of shame, just waiting for the day when she could confess her sins and be forgiven. Ms. Thomas looked forward to forgiving her. I think she would have enjoyed doing it in a stadium, Ginni wearing a flowing white robe, Anita in sackcloth. I heard the Crystal Cathedral is up for rent.

But it’s said that Ginni Thomas is a very smart woman and an expert strategist. So maybe Ginni Thomas was taking one for the team…

Why now? What, after almost twenty years, prompted Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to leave a message on Brandeis professor Anita Hill’s office voicemail asking her to apologize for accusing Justice Thomas of sexual harassment during his 1991 confirmation hearings?

The timing was interesting. Ginni Thomas placed her call to Hill the morning after the New York Times reported that Virginia Thomas’s new Liberty Central organization accepted “large, unidentified contributions” totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those untraceable dollars came in the flood of right-wing funding following the Citizens United campaign finance decision, in which Justice Thomas voted with the majority. The Times reported that a wide range of legal ethicists said Liberty Central’s financing raises “knotty questions” about a conflict of interest for Justice Thomas.

A famous line from Watergate was ‘follow the money’. We are being flooded with messages but the messengers stay behind the scenes. This has to end.

Free speech is the foundation of democracy. Anonymous paid speech is no substitute– it’s counterfeit. If Ginny Thomas intended to take the spotlight off her own activities it’s not going to work.

I favor the ‘dialing while disturbed’ explanation. We don’t always act rationally.

TAKE YOUR PICK: The Week has five theories of why Ginni Thomas made that call, including the two covered above.

ENRICHING FAMILY VALUES: I heard a lawyer on NPR discussing the potential conflict of interest if a judge makes a decision that allows his wife to recieve– say a quarter of a million dollars for her organization, which might gratefully give her a raise, and then she buys new furniture, or adds a deck to the house or some such contribution to the judge’s domestic comfort. It could look like he wasn’t 100% impartial. It’s funny how little it takes to compromise someone if they are not vigilant about ethics.
I’m putting up an old post about that, recalling how John McCain managed to marry a woman who was richer than God and live with her for decades while keeping their finances totally separate–
‘Life of Sacrifice–The Journals of Cindy McCain’

NO SYMPATHY: New American Media, which covers minority issues, is cutting Clarence Thomas no slack.

Tears of Aqua Buddha

My first impression of the Rand Paul college prank was that it was kind of nasty and bullying to tie up a fellow student and then tell her to be a good sport, but I’m not objective. I don’t like him.

Today I was making early visits with WRNI on the radio and they played Jack Conway’s commercial and Rand Paul’s counter-commercial. I’m only a simple Pagan, but I think after the election both of them had better go to confession for taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Jack Conway’s commercial doesn’t ask the real question– whether Paul had a convenient conversion when he decided to run for office. Instead, it implies that he’s guilty of disrespecting Jesus and maybe has occult connections. This is the same kind of mud that can get thrown at anyone who isn’t publicly pious enough.

Paul’s rebuttal is a Dolly Parton-like female voice saying that Paul holds Jesus in his heart. Ew. What is Jesus– his human shield?

Shame on both of them for using religion to get votes.

I pray for a leader who will stand up and say that religion is a private matter of conscience, and that the record is public. A leader who respects the law and serves for the benefit of all people, without favoritism.

Instead we are inviting religion into politics and rewarding hypocrisy.

Incidentally, there are many American Buddhists who didn’t ask for their religion to be made into a joke, and if anyone has a right to take offense at Rand Paul, it’s them. A devout Buddhist or an honest atheist won’t be winning any elections this cycle.


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