RUN, CHAFEE, RUN: It looks official. Governor Lincoln Chafee has begun his run for re-election to a second term as Rhode Island's governor. His State of the State speech and proposed budget presentation were rife with political plums normally proposed by politicians who are running for office. This is not to say those proposals are bad; just the opposite, they are good. His proposed budget is fiscally sound with no new tax increases and his proposal to cut the corporate tax rate from 9 to 7 percent is a breath of fresh air coming from a governor whose philosophy has been tax and spend. But what really tells us he has started his 2014 campaign is the reasons he gave for a
budget that is without tax increases. He attributed it to "...the fiscal discipline in all our departments," and "...the strengthening economy, both nationally and in Rhode Island." Not once did he mention the $118 million Rhode Island saved this year and the $118 million-plus we will save in future years due to pension reform championed by his possible opponent in 2014, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo. Yes, a politician is running for office when he purposely fails to give any credit for a great job when it is an opponent that credit should go to. Run, Chafee, run! But remember, Ms. Raimondo is probably running also and not only does she have far better running shoes, she actually knows where the finish line is.
OBAMA’S INAUGURAL ADDRESS: President Barrack Obama’s inaugural address kicking off his second term was stirring, seemed sincere, and contained the oratorical hallmarks his speeches usually employ. It’s unclear whether the speech was meant to outline his second term priorities or simply a paean to those supporters who put him on the dais. Regardless, a few of his statements were totally out of character with his past actions and his published philosophy.
After alluding to the 200-plus years of challenges we’ve faced since the Founding Fathers penned the Constitution, the President continued, “Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.” Does anyone really believe that President Obama doesn’t think government is the answer to all of society’s ills? Of course, he does! His every action since his first inauguration, especially his spending, has proven it. Meanwhile, he has demonstrated little propensity for promoting personal responsibility and has pushed to penalize personal initiative. Celebrating enterprise? Who told our small business owners that they “…didn’t build that?”
Further along he commented, “We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.” Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act will add to the cost of health care, not reduce it. And Obama has made little or no effort to reduce the deficit or the national debt. In fact, he has increased the national debt to over $16 trillion through his four years of trillion dollar-plus deficits. Implying that Republicans want to “choose” between seniors and future recipients of federal entitlements is pure sophism. Republicans want to curtail only slightly those entitlement benefits those under age 55 will enjoy so the programs will be sustainable for future retirees.
Obama proclaimed, “We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.” Keeping Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid fiscally unsustainable is hardly looking out for our posterity. Failing to address the enormous national debt is hardly looking out for our posterity.
And, totally disregarding his history of opposition to gay marriage, Obama had the audacity to say with a straight face, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD: Many recall the 1980s play and movie about the relationship between a deaf woman and her speech pathologist husband entitled “Children of a Lesser God.” The story’s genesis was in Rhode Island at URI's New Repertory Project where playwright Mark Medoff met deaf actress Phyllis Frelich who would star in his Tony-winning Broadway production that was based loosely on Frelich's relationship with her hearing husband. The title of the story has come full circle back to Rhode Island.
Testifying at the State House last week in support of same-sex marriage, Anthony and Sylvia DeLuca of North Kingstown urged critics to explain how their lesbian daughter's loving relationship in a same-sex marriage was harming heterosexual marriages. They also strongly objected to Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin's characterization of same-sex marriages as "immoral." Anthony declared, "I challenge anyone to suggest to us that our daughter is immoral and a lesser human being created by a lesser God."
The DeLuca's poignant testimony points clearly to what Rhode Island must do. Open our minds and our hearts and welcome these new “children of a lesser god” into the mainstream of an enlightened society.
BI-POLAR PAROLE BOARD: The Rhode Island Parole Board did the right thing last week when it denied parole to a drunk driver who killed a woman in 2009 when he crashed into her car while driving with a blood alcohol level more than double the legal limit. The man, who had a history of violating motor vehicle laws before the crash, was told by the board to serve his entire seven-year sentence without again asking for parole.
At the same meeting, the board postponed a decision on the parole of Alfred Brissette Jr., the man who murdered a woman 13 years ago simply for the thrill of killing. Last June, the board was on the verge of releasing Brissette because he had "favorably impressed" board members. The public outcry that ensued caused the board to reconsider.
In both cases, lives were taken by killers who demonstrated little or no regard for human life. Why should one killer possibly be allowed to roam free among us, perhaps to take another life, while the other must serve his entire sentence? The parole board should tell Brissette the same thing it told the drunken driver killer, "Serve out your entire sentence and don’t come back to us again seeking parole."
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Joe Harvard of Cranston, writing a letter to the editor in the Providence Journal, was rightfully exasperated by the electronic highway signs along I-95 in Rhode Island that tell motorists how long it will take them to get to the state's borders with Connecticut and Massachusetts. His very well taken point that, instead of saying "24 minutes to the Connecticut state line," these signs should be saying such things as "3 minutes to Atwells Avenue and Downtown Shopping," or "42 minutes to Newport via Newport Bridge." He contends that we apparently don't want to give directions to anyone who might actually want to stay and conduct commerce. We only tell them, "Don't worry, you'll be out of this godforsaken place soon." RIDOT, please take notice!