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Thursday, September 13, 2012

It wasn’t a rhetorical question



Ninigret, sachem of the Niantics.

Will’s story on Assistant Town Solicitor for Indian Affairs “Injun Joe” Larisa’s refusal to permit Charlestown taxpayers to see what he’s done on our behalf and on our dime provoked a predictable storm of comments from the anonymous CCA Larisa apologists.


By Linda Felaco

In case you haven’t noticed, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance relies heavily on the Karl Rove playbook. A favorite tactic is to distort a word or phrase an opponent has used and then repeat that mischaracterization over and over again, ad nauseam, without ever addressing their opponent’s real point.

Anonymous internet trolls also have the advantage of being able to drop a turd and run, unlike us writers here on PC who sign everything we write. I shouldn’t even engage these people, but I’m always curious to find out what they’ll say if allowed to. Though as they say, curiosity killed the cat …


True to type, the CCA troll started off with what I will politely call a little BS: that the CCA allegedly opposes all casinos, not just Indian casinos. When, to borrow a Mageauism, “the record clearly shows” that the CCA has never actively opposed state- or privately run casinos, but they and their forefathers in the RI Statewide Coalition have actively opposed tribal casino efforts anywhere in the state, not just here in Charlestown.

And for all we know, our tax dollars paid for those efforts, though there’s no way to know for sure from the heavily redacted versions of Larisa’s bills that are available to us. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that CCA’s and RISC’s real fear is of the tribe becoming economically self-sufficient and not a casino per se. Indeed, I will go as far as to say that I think what really gives the CCA night sweats is the thought of the Narragansetts amassing enough money to be able to buy more land here in Charlestown, period, regardless of what they use it for.
A document commemorating a 1636 conveyance
of land from the Narragansett tribe to Roger
Williams. Williams claimed that the land of
Rhode Island was not "purchased or obtained"
but rather obtained from "Cannonicus but by gift.”
Guess that's what you get for being nice.

After all, as Will has pointed out every time the subject has come up, logically, we should encourage the tribe’s efforts to open a casino somewhere else because then they wouldn’t need to build one here. Not that logic or facts enter into it much for the CCA. Because if the Narragansetts had been able to open a casino in West Warwick or take over Twin Rivers, the CCA would lose their favorite hobgoblin, and we can’t have that, can we.

The commenter then proceeded to demand an answer to a question that has been clearly and unambiguously answered on the website of the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee since at least 2010, namely, the CDTC’s position on a casino in Charlestown (hint: opposed).[1] Apparently, like Michael Chambers, this commenter doesn’t grasp the fact that like a newspaper, a website is more than just the “front page” and that you have to “click” on “links” to see the rest of it.

For the CCA alarmists, a simple statement of opposition is insufficient; each and every candidate must swear a blood oath to fight a casino to the death. Though as far as I can tell from perusing the CCA website, the individual CCA candidates have not specifically stated their personal opposition. For all we know, they could own stock in Bally’s.

Me, I’m no lover of casinos. The very word “casino” invariably conjures images for me of the time some years back when I was strolling the boardwalk in Atlantic City and I witnessed someone committing suicide by driving their minivan into a pylon after staying up all night and losing everything they had at the tables.

But I digress.

My response to this rant was to ask a question of my own: Given that the CCA has consistently opposed the tribe’s efforts to open a casino anywhere in the state, not just here in Charlestown, and the state used force to prevent them from selling cigarettes, what would the CCA permit the tribe do in order to help its members find jobs and economic security, provide for its elderly, and keep its culture vibrant and healthy?

This wasn’t a rhetorical question; I wanted an answer. Yet the CCA commenter pointedly refused to answer it[2] and instead proceeded to restate the “big lie” that the CDTC supposedly does not oppose a casino in Charlestown and even tossed in other nonfacts as well, such as that Tom Ferrio writes here on the blog “daily” when in fact for the last few weeks he’s been out of state dealing with a death in the family, and that “he suspiciously chooses not to state his position on this.”

Which falls under the category of “asked and answered.” I think there are far more important issues in this election campaign than our hypothetical response to an unrealized threat. Like why we’re paying an attorney $2000 a month plus $130 an hour when he won’t even tell us what he’s doing to earn that money. But of course whipping up anti-Narragansett fervor has been a tried-and-true election tactic for the CCA since its inception and they’re obviously not about to give it up.
Tribal territories of Southern New England tribes about 1600.
(Credit: Nikater; adapted to English by Hydrargyrum)

Shouldn’t candidates for town offices campaign on issues that will actually come before them? The commenter kept reiterating that senators Reed and Whitehouse and Representative Langevin all oppose the Carcieri fix. That would be because the Carcieri fix is federal legislation. Only members of Congress will ever get to vote on it, not our state legislators and certainly not any town officials. So the position of candidates for town office on the Carcieri fix is every bit as moot as their position on, say, the gold standard.

So by CCA logic, unless you’re shouting your opposition to something from the rooftops, you favor it. I’m not a Republican, so the Karl Rove tactics don’t come naturally to me, but I thought I’d give it a try and see how it goes.

For instance, where does the CCA stand on the issue of dogfighting, or cockfighting? I was astonished to discover that despite having town ordinances against throwing snowballs, spitting, and standing on Creek Bridge, there are no town ordinances against dogfighting or cockfighting. Does this mean the CCA favors them? Would they allow the Narragansetts to run dogfights or cockfights?

Or what about boiling and eating kittens? Nowhere on the CCA website do they state their opposition to this practice. Makes ya wonder what goes on at their steering committee meetings doesn’t it.

Hey, this is kinda fun.


[1] Disclosure: The commenter in fact demanded to know where the CDTC and its candidates stand on the so-called Carcieri fix, which in the CCA’s Bizarro Charlestown is the same thing as the Narragansetts opening up Foxwoods on the Moraine. To them, you cannot oppose a casino in Charlestown without also opposing the Carcieri fix, and expressing that opposition rabidly and repeatedly any time the subject comes up. The reality is that the Carcieri case was originally filed not over a casino but in order to block the Narragansetts from putting a small plot of land where they were going to build affordable housing for senior citizens [not a code name for a casino but real housing] into federal trust. The Supreme Court decision in the Carcieri case, which the CCA considers to be the only thing standing between us and Foxwoods on the Moraine, effectively disenfranchised not only the Narragansetts here in RI but some 500 other tribes around the country, and the “fix” would correct that injustice. In the CCA’s frightened little minds, each and every act by the Tribe is a stalking horse for a Charlestown casino. Instead of posting anonymous internet rants, they really ought to seek treatment for this Narragaphobia.
[2] Yeah, I know, serves me right. I should listen when people tell me don’t feed the trolls, it only encourages them.