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Mangy Dogs, Those Republicans

By Gregory Flannery · October 25th, 2006 · Porkopolis
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  Bill Clinton backs John Cranley for Congress, hoping the Democrats can retake the House.
Joe Lamb

Bill Clinton backs John Cranley for Congress, hoping the Democrats can retake the House.



Speaking with a cadence more like a Southern Baptist preacher's than a politician's, former President Bill Clinton arrived in town Oct. 24 to give a stump speech for Democratic congressional candidate John Cranley. The swanky luncheon at downtown's Millennium Hotel had ticket prices ranging from $250 to $2,100. About 600 people attended, generating $300,000, a campaign spokesman said.

As Clinton surveyed the crowd, which included Democratic politicians ranging from the mayor to a county commissioner to state representatives, he joked in a Southern drawl, "I got to looking at the list of people who spoke before me and I got to wondering how Democrats ever lost a single election here."

This fall's election presents a unique opportunity for Democrats to regain control of Congress, Clinton said, because of the GOP's bad policy-making on issues like the Iraq War, large federal budget deficits and the increasing disparity between rich and poor. "This is the most unusual election I've been in during the last 30 years," he said. "We all know there are things that are not right about our national life."

According to Clinton, the Bush administration and the GOP-controlled Congress have been too focused on concentrating wealth and power to benefit special interests at the expense of the broader public good. For example, the Republican push to abolish the estate tax will benefit only about 8,000 families nationwide but will cost the federal government about $25 billion a year for a decade in lost revenues.

"It affects far fewer than 1 percent of us," Clinton said. "We believe we ought to enact legislation for the common good. ... They always chose the special interest path."

Clinton described the GOP's campaign platform as promoting fear created by the dual threat of terrorist attacks and possible tax increases but offering few ideas of substance. "That is a mangy old dog, and I hope it won't hunt one more time," Clinton said about the strategy.

Political Disruptions
Cranley's opponent, U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, got a special gift when he campaigned in front of Paul Brown Stadium during the Oct. 22 Bengals game: a subpoena. Attorney William Gallagher, one of several volunteer lawyers representing peace activists arrested during a sit-in at Chabot's office, issued the subpoena.

Five activists, including CityBeat's Gregory Flannery, are scheduled to stand trial Jan. 22 on a charge of criminal trespassing. Two high school students arrested during the sit-in have charges pending in juvenile court. The seven protesters refused to leave Chabot's office Sept. 27, demanding he sign the Congressional Declaration of Peace; he didn't sign, and they were arrested.

Chabot, who was in Washington during the sit-in, met last week with several of the same protesters. This time they left without incident.

We have gotten so used to treating presidents and vice presidents as demigods that it seemed perfectly natural to lock down the Garfield Garage for a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney, scheduled for Oct. 25. Cheney was set to address the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber at The Phoenix restaurant at Ninth and Race streets. Citing unspecified security concerns, the city barred patrons from entering or leaving the nearby parking facility between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. that day.

We have strayed far from the Founding Fathers' radical republicanism -- closing roads, blocking traffic, disrupting commerce and inconveniencing the public at large out of fawning deference to those in power.

Ohio's 1,000-foot-rule keeping convicted sex offenders from living close to schools, day care centers and other places where children gather was ruled unconstitutional Oct. 20 in one court and upheld in another court on the same day. In Troy, Ohio, the 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled that a person who both owned his home and committed a sexual offense before July 31, 2003 --the effective date of the residency law -- can't be thrown out of his home. The case involves a 76-year-old man who pled guilty eight years ago to attempting to touch a 13-year-old girl, over her clothes, as she assisted him down from the bleachers during a basketball game. He had owned his home with his 92-year-old wife for 30 years. Stephen JohnsonGrove, an attorney with the Cincinnati-based Ohio Justice and Policy Center, argued the case on behalf of the couple.

"There was no question -- there could not be any question -- that it is a substantive right to live in the home that you own," JohnsonGrove says. "This man pled guilty and served his time. No one in our community would have been served by booting him out of his house. This law does not really increase community safety."

On the same day as that ruling, the 1st District Court of Appeals, which covers Hamilton County, handed down an opposing decision, ruling that the sex offender residency law doesn't violate the state constitution.

David Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, says the organization will ask the 1st District Court to reconsider its ruling.

CityBeat was the target of a protest last week by local Country band The Spurzz, a bible-thumping, blindly patriotic trio upset at their exclusion from the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. For details, visit CityBeat's Porkopolis blog at citybeat.wordpress.com.



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