CityBeat Blogs - Tea Party <![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Since Ohio sold the Lake Erie Correctional Institution to the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), prisoner accounts and independent audits have found deteriorating conditions at the minimum- and medium-security facility. In the past few months, prisoners detailed unsanitary conditions and rising violence at the prison, which were later confirmed by official incident reports and a surprise inspection from the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee. Now, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is calling on the state to do more to hold CCA accountable. To read the full story, click here.

A Northern Kentucky lawsuit backed by the tea party is threatening library funding across the state. The problems get into the specifics of Kentucky’s tax code, potentially unraveling the entire library system by forcing the state’s libraries to get voter approval before increasing or decreasing taxes. If the courts rule against the libraries, the libraries could have to set their tax rates back to levels from decades ago, leading to considerably less funding for the public institutions.

City Council is set to approve a budget plan today that will avoid laying off cops and firefighters, but it will make considerable cuts to many other city programs, increase fees for various services and raise property taxes. The public safety layoffs were averted despite months of threats from city officials that such layoffs couldn’t be avoided without the city’s plan to semi-privatize parking assets. But the parking plan is being held up in court, and City Council managed to avoid the public safety layoffs anyway.

Commentary: “Commissioners’ Proposed Streetcar Cut Ignores the Basics.”

A budget bill from the Ohio Senate would keep social issues at the forefront and refocus tax reforms on small businesses instead of all Ohioans. The bill would potentially allow Ohio's health director to shut down abortion clinics, effectively defund Planned Parenthood, fund anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers and forgo the Medicaid expansion, while cutting taxes by 50 percent for business owners instead of going through with a 7-percent across-the-board tax cut for all Ohioans.

The Ohio legislature is moving to take away the state auditor’s powers to audit private funds that JobsOhio and other taxpayer-funded private entities take in. State Auditor Dave Yost is looking to do a full audit of JobsOhio that includes private funds, but other Republicans, led by Gov. John Kasich, have pushed back, claiming Yost can only check on public funds. JobsOhio is a privatized development agency that Kasich and Republican legislators established to eventually replace the Ohio Department of Development.

A teacher who was fired from a Catholic school when she got pregnant through artificial insemination when she was single is taking the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati to court, with hearings now underway. The Churchs critics argue that the Vatican’s stance on single pregnant women is discriminatory, since it makes it much easier to enforce anti-premarital sex rules against women than men.

Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) is facing $14.8 million in deficits in its next budget — a sign that years of cuts are continuing at the school district. CPS says the shortfall is driven by state cuts, which CityBeat previously covered in greater detail and how they relate to CPS here.

Hamilton County commissioners are asking Cincinnati to merge its 911 call centers with the county. The change would likely save money for both Cincinnati and Hamilton County, but it remains uncertain how it would affect the effectiveness of 911 services.

Scientists are using yogurt to study how food interacts with the brain.

CityBeat is doing a quick survey on texting while driving. Participate here.

To get your questions answered in CityBeat’s Answers Issue, submit your questions here.

<![CDATA[Senate Democrats Demand Investigation Into Voter Fraud Group]]> Ohio Senate Democrats sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Wednesday asking them to investigate True the Vote (TTV), a Tea Party group established to combat alleged voter fraud. The Democrats claim TTV is unnecessarily intimidating voters.

In the letter, the Democrats say they would find voter fraud to be a serious problem if it was happening, but they also note recent studies have found no evidence of widespread voter impersonation fraud. An Oct. 4 Government Accountability Office study could not document a single case of voter impersonation fraud. A similar study by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found a total of 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. That’s less than one case a year.

Tim Burke, chairman of both the Hamilton County Board of Elections and the Hamilton County Democratic Party, says the faulty voter registration forms, which groups like TTV typically cite as examples of in-person voter fraud, never amount to real voter fraud.

“Those nonexistent voters never show up to vote,” he says. “(The forms) were put together by people working on voter registration drives. Frankly, the intent wasn’t to defraud the board of elections; the intent was to defraud their employer into making them think they’re doing more work.”

In other words, people aren't submitting faulty voter registration forms to skew elections; registration drive employees are submitting the forms to try to keep their jobs.

To combat the seemingly nonexistent problem of voter impersonation fraud, TTV is planning on recruiting one million poll watchers — people that will stand by polling places to ensure the voting process is legitimate. The Democrats insist some of the tactics promoted by the group are illegal. The letter claims it’s illegal for anyone but election officials to inhibit the voting process in any way. Most notably, Ohio law prohibits “loiter[ing] in or about a registration or polling place during registration or the casting and counting of ballots so as to hinder, delay, or interfere with the conduct of the registration or election,” according to the letter.

Burke says state law allows both Democrats and Republicans to hire observers at polling booths. However, the observers can only watch, and they can’t challenge voters. Even if the appointed observers see suspicious activity, they have to leave the voting area and report the activity through other means.

The tactics adopted by TTV have an ugly history in the U.S. Utilizing poll watchers was one way Southern officials pushed away minority voters during the segregation era. By asking questions and being as obstructive as possible, the poll watchers of the segregation era intimidated black voters into not voting. In the post-segregation era, the tactics have continued targeting minority and low-income voters.

The Senate Democrats make note of the ugly history in their letter: “It has traditionally focused on the voter registration lists in minority and low-income precincts, utilizing ‘caging’ techniques to question registrations. It has included encouraging poll watchers to ‘raise a challenge’ when certain voters tried to vote by brandishing cameras at polling sites, asking humiliating questions of voters, and slowing down precinct lines with unnecessary challenges and intimidating tactics. These acts of intimidation undermine protection of the right to vote of all citizens.”

TTV has already faced some failures in Hamilton County. Earlier this year, the group teamed up with the Ohio Voter Integrity Project (VIP), another Tea Party group, to file 380 challenges to the Hamilton County Board of Elections. Of the 380 challenges, only 35 remain. The vast majority were thrown out.

“For the most part, they tried to get a bunch of UC students challenged because they didn’t have their dormitory rooms on their voter registration rolls,” Burke says. “All of those were rejected. We did nothing with those.”

But he said the group did bring up one legitimate challenge. Some voters were still registered in a now-defunct trailer park in Harrison, Ohio. Since the trailer park no longer exists, Burke says no one should be voting from there. The board didn’t purge those voters from the roll, but the board unanimously agreed to ensure those voters are challenged and sent to the correct polling place if they show up to vote.

Still, TTV insists on hunting down all the phantom impersonators and fraudulent voters. In partnership with VIP, TTV is continuing its mission to stop all the voter impersonation that isn't actually happening.

VIP is brandishing the effort with a program of its own. That organization is now hosting special training programs for poll workers. The organization insists its programs are nonpartisan, but Democrats aren’t buying it.

Burke says it’s normal for Democrats and Republicans to hire poll workers, but if the Voter Integrity Project program puts the organization’s anti-fraud politics into the training, it could go too far.

“The job of the poll worker is to assist voters in getting their ballots cast correctly,” Burke says. “It’s to be helpful. It’s not to be belligerent. It’s not to be making voters feel like they’re doing something evil.”

He added, “If poll workers are coming in and deciding that they’re going to be aggressive police officers making everybody feel like they’re engaged in voter fraud and therefore trying to intimidate voters, that’s absolutely wrong.”

<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

County Commissioner Todd Portune's idea to borrow more money and extend a half-cent sales tax in order to keep up with stadium costs has been shot down by a Bengals lawyer who used 15 bullet points to demonstrate that Portune's plan “proposes to breach one or both leases.

Duke Energy is asking state regulators if it can bump customers' rates up again. Duke says the increases are to pay for infrastructure investments. The change would increase customer costs of electric service by $86 million and for natural gas by $44 million. A federal appeals court on Monday reinstated an antitrust lawsuit against Duke Energy that accuses the company of paying kick-backs to corporations opposing a 2004 rate increase.

A rally for “religious freedom” will take place on Fountain Square today in response to federal health care legislation requiring women to have abortions employers to provide insurance that covers birth control. The law includes a religious exemption, which bishops have said isn't enough.

A group pushing to ban dog auctions in Ohio has halted its effort to put the issue on the November ballot due to lack of funding and time. CityBeat in February reported the group's efforts to ban the sale of dogs through auctions or raffles, as well as all trafficking in dogs from out-of-state auctions.

New York City officials, including Brooklyn Democratic Rep. Yvette Clarke, are arguing that the city's “Stop and Frisk” policy is racist. The policy allows police to stop an individual and pat him or her down for contraband if they suspect illegal activity. From USA Today:

Clarke says the program, known as "Stop, Question and Frisk" or "Stop and Frisk," amounts to racial profiling. It is based on a 1968 Supreme Court ruling that police could stop people on the basis of "reasonable suspicion."

Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin approved class-action status for a lawsuit that alleges the practice subjects people to race-based illegal searches.

President Obama's health care law helped 6.6 million young adults stay on their parents' plans during the first year and a half.

Rick Santorum has formed a new conservative organization aiming to recruit 1 million supporters to help get Barack Obama out of the While House. No word on how Santorum's “Patriot Voices” group will differ from the tea party patriots.

NASA says it has spotted the universe's first objects.

Black members of the Netherlands soccer team were subjected to racist chants at their Euro 2012 practice facility in Krakow, Poland. The team says fans were making monkey chants at the players.

LeBron James scored 45 points to lead the Miami Heat over the Boston Celtics last night, forcing a deciding Game 7 for the Eastern Conference championship. The Oklahoma Thunder await in the NBA Finals.

<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> It took awhile, but it's finally out. Firefighters battled a huge blaze at Rumpke's recycling plant in St. Bernard for 26 hours, finally clearing the scene around 8 p.m. Wednesday. In all, 150 firefighters from 10 departments responded to the fire at the massive Vine Street facility. Officials think a truckload of recyclables contained something hot that ignited the surrounding trash, although the exact cause remains under investigation.

Judge Robin Piper has recused himself from ruling on Ryan Widmer's murder conviction appeal that will be argued next week. Piper was assigned to hear the case in the 12th District Court of Appeals but decided to step aside because he is a former Butler County prosecutor. Widmer is serving 15 years to life in prison for drowning his wife in their bathtub after he was found guilty in his third trial. Defense attorneys have filed an appeal for a fourth trial, stating that errors were made that violated Widmer's constitutional rights.

Three students were caught vandalizing an anti-abortion display at Northern Kentucky University, and a fourth student later turned himself in. The students allegedly cut a display, erected by National Right to Life, that consisted of baby clothes on a line with a red "x" through every fourth one. Campus police have charged the students with criminal mischief, and college officials will hold a separate hearing to determine whether further discipline is needed.

Ohio's largest gay rights group isn't supporting a ballot initiative that would overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriages. A representative for Equality Ohio said he's concerned there might be problems with the language proposed by the amendment's backers and that more analysis is needed. The ballot issue would ask voters to repeal a 2004 amendment that says Ohio recognizes only a marriage between a man and a woman. Supporters must collect about 385,000 valid voter signatures for the issue to appear on the ballot. Some critics believe the amendment is designed to increase voter turnout among conservatives in a presidential election year.

A Butler County man who was convicted in the 2010 beating death of a baby alpaca is in trouble with the law again. Marcus T. Miller, 19, has been charged with receiving stolen property in Middletown Municipal Court. Miller was sentenced to 14 months in prison in January 2011 for his part in the theft and beating death of a baby alpaca from a Browns Run Road farm in January 2010.

In news elsewhere, media is abuzz about the second-degree murder charge against George Zimmerman that was announced Wednesday evening. Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26. Although Zimmerman alleges he acted in self-defense, special prosecutor Angela Corey said facts in the case prove otherwise. Zimmerman is in a Seminole County jail cell, and will appear today at a 1:30 p.m. court hearing.

A Republican congressman from Florida told a town hall meeting audience that "he's heard" up to 80 U.S. House Democrats are Communist Party members, but wouldn't name names. U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-Plantation), who made the remarks, is a Tea Party candidate first elected in 2010 and is being pushed by Sarah Palin as a potential vice presidential running mate for Mitt Romney.

In a significant setback for so-called “ex-gay” programs, Dr. Robert Spitzer is repudiating his much-criticized 2001 study that claimed some “highly motivated” homosexuals could convert from gay to straight. His retraction occurred in an American Prospect magazine article published this week. Spitzer’s rejection of his own research, which originally was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, is a devastating blow to “pray the gay away” organizations because it eliminates their claim that homosexuality can be reversed through therapy and prayer.

Meanwhile, a new study has found a link between conservative ideology and "low-effort" thinking. The study's lead author, University of Arkansas psychologist Dr. Scott Eidelman, cautioned that the findings don't necessarily mean conservatives are lazy thinkers. "Our research shows that low-effort thought promotes political conservatism, not that political conservatives use low-effort thinking,” he said.

A baby that was born prematurely in Argentina was declared dead and spent nearly 12 hours in a coffin at a morgue before the parents, opening the coffin to say their last goodbyes, discovered the girl was alive. A health ministry official said five medical professionals involved have been suspended pending an investigation.
<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> A crowd estimated at close to 1,500 people attended a rally Monday evening at downtown's Fountain Square to express outrage that the alleged shooter of an unarmed teenager in Sanford, Fla., hasn't been arrested. The Feb. 26 killing of Trayvon Martin, 17, has sparked widespread outrage, but some of the marchers at the Cincinnati rally said it's a time to remember all victims of violent crimes. The Rev. Peterson Mingo, who's lost five relatives to violence, urged attendees to take non-violent action. "The same thing can happen to either one of you, someone you know, family or friends,” Mingo said. “And it doesn't matter the color of your skin. We have all the same rights."

Meanwhile, details about the shooter's account of the incident were leaked to a Florida newspaper near Sanford. Police reports indicate George Zimmerman, 28, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Martin, told police the teenager punched him in the nose and tackled him, bashing his head into the ground. That's when Zimmerman shot Martin at point blank range in the chest, the reports said. The reports state that Zimmerman was bleeding from his nose and the back of his head. Some — but not all — of the witnesses to the incident have corroborated this version of events.

Neighborhood activists in Avondale, where 11 murders occurred last year, will be the first in the nation to try a new anti-violence program that uses a relatively simple approach. The Moral Voice program involves using “people of influence” in the lives of criminals to speak to them, encourage them to stop shooting and selling drugs, and offer help to get their lives back on track. It's unclear how this differs from the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV), which uses a similar approach.

Some area Tea Party groups have taken umbrage at letters they've received from the IRS. The agency has sent questionnaires to various groups, including the Liberty Township Tea Party and the Ohio Liberty Council, seeking information about their political activities because they've applied for tax-exempt status. But some groups think the questions are too intrusive and constitute harassment. A University of Notre Dame law professor, however, said the IRS inquiries do not seem overly intrusive or unusual.

The Great Recession hit Ohio harder than just about every other state in terms of private-sector job loss. Only three states lost more private-sector jobs than Ohio during the last four years, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Buckeye State lost 266,300 private-sector jobs between 2008-12, leaving it with about 4.36 million positions.

A longtime West Side fixture has died. Demetrios Christos James Kostopoulo, or just “Jim” to his many friends and acquaintances, recently died at age 74 while working at his popular restaurant, Delhi Chili. A Greek immigrant, Kostopoulo came to the United States in 1956. He opened his eatery in 1963 and would work 12-day shifts before taking time off, his daughter said.

In news elsewhere, the impact of the individual mandate in President Obama's health-care reform law is being vastly overstated, some economists say. Even as the Supreme Court hears arguments about the law's constitutionality, analysts note that most Americans already have coverage that satisfies the mandate. For the remainder, the law would create subsidies that would help pay for coverage. The mandate most likely will affect about 25 million people when it takes effect in 2014 — many of whom are younger, healthier people who were taking the risk of going without health insurance. (That's probably you, dear CityBeat reader.)

Syria has reportedly accepted a ceasefire plan drawn up by Kofi Annan, a special envoy from the United Nations and the Arab League. Annan's spokesman confirmed that the government had accepted the six-point peace plan, which the U.N. Security Council has endorsed. Annan said it dealt with "political discussions, withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centers, humanitarian assistance being allowed in unimpeded, (and) release of prisoners,” although few details were available. Syria has waged a violent crackdown against anti-government protestors for more than 12 months.

A strong earthquake shook northern Japan today, but no damage was reported and there was no risk of a tsunami. The Japan Meteorological Agency recorded a 6.4 preliminary magnitude. There may be a small change in sea levels, the agency said, but it didn't issue any tsunami warnings.

There was a close call in space over the weekend.  A leftover piece of an old Russian satellite forced six astronauts on the International Space Station to take shelter in a pair of lifeboat-like space capsules Saturday, but passed harmlessly by the outpost to the crew's relief. The space junk was spotted too late to move the orbiting laboratory out of the way and flew as close as 6.8 miles when it zoomed by, NASA officials said. Where's Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck and those other Armageddon space cowboys when you need them?
<![CDATA[Santorum: Vote for Obama Over Romney?]]>

Conservative presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is busy today trying to clarify a comment he made Thursday that indicated reelecting President Barack Obama would be better than electing Santorum’s Republican rival, Mitt Romney.

Santorum’s comment, made in San Antonio, Texas, at the USAA insurance company, drew criticism from Romney, Newt Gingrich and other Republicans.

"You win by giving people a choice. You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who's just going to be a little different than the person in there," Santorum said in San Antonio. "If you're going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future."

Romney quickly fired back about Santorum’s comment.

“I am in this race to defeat Barack Obama and restore America's promise,” Romney said. “I was disappointed to hear that Rick Santorum would rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican. This election is more important than any one person. It is about the future of America. Any of the Republicans running would be better than President Obama and his record of failure.”

Not to be left out, Gingrich took to Twitter to join in the symbolic thrashing.

"Rick Santorum is dead wrong. Any GOP nominee will be better than Obama.” Gingrich tweeted.

This morning Santorum’s campaign released a statement that sought to clarify what the candidate meant. (How many times has that phrase had to be used in relation to Santorum in the past few months?)

"I would never vote for Barack Obama over any Republican and to suggest otherwise is preposterous,” Santorum said in the prepared statement. “This is just another attempt by the Romney campaign to distort and distract the media and voters from the unshakeable fact that many of Romney's policies mirror Barack Obama's.”

Santorum added, “I was simply making the point that there is a huge enthusiasm gap around Mitt Romney and it's easy to see why — Romney has sided with Obama on health-care mandates, cap-and-trade, and the Wall Street bailouts.  Voters have to be excited enough to actually go vote, and my campaign's movement to restore freedom is exciting this nation.  If this election is about Obama versus the Obama-Lite candidate, we have a tough time rallying this nation."

Santorum might be correct about the enthusiasm gap over Romney.

A new poll found that more people offer negative than positive assessments of Romney. But, tellingly, this also is the case for Romney’s rivals — Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul.

When Americans were asked what one word comes to mind when thinking about Romney, the top responses were “no” or “no way,” and “rich.” After those, the most frequently used words were “flip-flopper,” “idiot” and “arrogant.”

Roughly twice as many respondents gave negative one-word descriptions of Romney rather than positive terms, 30 percent versus 14 percent; just 29 percent used neutral terms.

The most frequently used terms for Santorum, with the exception of “no,” were “crazy,” “too conservative,” “extreme” and “idiot.”

A mere 13 percent of respondents used positive words for Santorum, while 30 percent used negative words and 22 percent used neutral terms.

Words most frequently offered about Gingrich were “old,” “no,” “no way,” “idiot” and “untrustworthy.”

Thirty-nine percent of respondents used negative terms about Gingrich, compared to 10 percent that used positive terms, and 23 percent that used neutral terms.

The most frequent descriptions used for Paul were slightly better, but not by much: “no,” “old,” “Libertarian,” “honest” and “crazy.”

Twenty-seven percent of respondents used negative terms to describe Paul, compared to 15 percent that used positive terms, and 23 percent that used neutral terms.

The national survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post. It surveyed 1,009 adults March 15-18.

Of the respondents, 605 were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 404 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 176 who had no landline telephone.

The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.

<![CDATA[Rand Paul to Speak Locally ]]>

His father might be busy trying to score the GOP’s presidential nomination, but U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is taking the time to speak at a Town Hall-style meeting in Northern Kentucky next week.

Paul is scheduled to attend an event organized by the Northern Kentucky Tea Party on Feb. 24. It will be held at the Calvin Perry Community Center, 8536 W. Main St., in Alexandria.

The meeting, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 2 p.m. and last for about an hour. Paul will speak first, then answer questions from the audience.

In the Tea Party’s announcement of the event, Paul is described as “a true champion of freedom” who has “worked to stop the EPA's war on coal.”

Paul, 49, is the son of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) who is seeking the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

Elected to the Senate in November 2010, the younger Paul is also a practicing ophthalmologist in Bowling Green, Ky.

Paul made headlines during his campaign when he said he disliked portions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the landmark legislation that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce.

A restaurant or other private business with no government funding should be allowed to discriminate, he said. “In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people who have abhorrent behavior,” Paul added.

<![CDATA['Whites Only,' the Tea Party and COAST]]>

This week’s ruling by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission that a Greater Cincinnati landlady violated a girl’s civil rights by posting a “whites only” sign at an apartment complex’s swimming pool is a decision that most rational people would say is just.

The Jan. 12 ruling means the commission, if it cannot reach a settlement with landlady Jamie Hein, could issue a complaint against her with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. The AG’s Office would then represent the complainant, Michael Gunn, before an administrative law judge, who could impose penalties and punitive damages.---

Gunn, who is white, filed the complaint last spring after his biracial daughter visited him at his apartment complex and tried to use the pool. She found a sign posted that read, “Public Swimming Pool, White Only.”

The girl told her father about the sign, he said, and several witnesses corroborated her account before the commission.

Although Hein told ABC News in December that the sign merely was an antique from Selma, Ala., which she received from a friend, she said in an interview with the commission’s housing enforcement director that products used by the girl in her hair made the water “cloudy.”

"I was trying to protect my assets," Hein said in the interview.

Such an attitude might seem shocking today, but it’s worth noting that Sunlite Pool at Coney Island Amusement Park didn’t become racially integrated until May 29, 1961, after a nine-year struggle — well within the lifetimes of some of CityBeat’s older readers.

But is Hein’s attitude really all that shocking or uncommon? Consider the following.

Both U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and his son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have spoken publicly against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That’s the landmark legislation that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce.

Ron Paul has said the law "undermine[d] the concept of liberty" and "destroyed the principle of private property and private choices."

Rand Paul has said he dislikes portions of the civil rights law because a restaurant or other private business with no government funding should be allowed to discriminate. “In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people who have abhorrent behavior,” Rand Paul said in 2010.

Father and son, of course, represent the views of many Libertarians and are the darlings of the Tea Party movement.

Then there’s the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), a group supposedly dedicated only to fiscal conservatism. Still, one of COAST’s leaders, Chris Finney, helped push the anti-gay charter amendment approved by Cincinnati voters in 1993.

While defending Article 12 in the 1990s, Finney said landlords shouldn’t be legally required to rent to gay or lesbian tenants if they didn’t want to do so.

During testimony in a 1994 court hearing, Finney was asked why sexual behavior should affect who can eat in a restaurant or be employed by a company. Finney replied, “Because there may be some who don’t want their family dining next to a homosexual couple whose actions they find offensive.”

No wonder civil rights leader Bayard Rustin remarked in 1986 that, “Today, blacks are no longer the litmus paper or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new ‘niggers’ are gays.”

By the way, COAST helped launch Rand Paul’s Senate campaign in June 2009. Birds of a feather.

Thankfully, voters repealed Article 12 in 2004. But the worldview espoused by the Pauls, Finney and their ilk would leave us with a significantly different society today, if they had their way.

Nevertheless, one Greater Cincinnati politician after another tries to cozy up to COAST, in an effort to win conservative votes. Among those who associate with the group are Brad Wenstrup, Charlie Winburn, Christopher Smitherman, Chris Bortz, Chris Monzel and Phil Heimlich.

As President Grover Cleveland famously said, “A man is known by the company he keeps, and also by the company from which he is kept out."

<![CDATA[Ron Paul Jumps the Shark]]>

Some progressive Democrats share a modest admiration for Ron Paul, a U.S. congressman from Texas and perennial darkhorse contender for the Republican presidential nomination.---

Maybe it's because he is one of the few GOP politicians that opposes the Iraq War and questions the United States' far-reaching, costly military presence around the globe. Maybe it's because he isn't afraid to speak his mind, even when it runs contrary to conventional wisdom. Maybe it's just because he's an underdog, and many Americans like to see longshots come from behind and win.

Whatever the reason, that begrudging love affair (like affair?) with the cantankerous obstetrician from Lake Jackson might finally have come to an end after a series of unusual remarks that Paul made during Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

When Paul was asked a question about abolishing the federal minimum wage for workers, the congressman said he supported the idea, explaining “it would help the poor people who need jobs.”

The congressman added, “We’re against mandates so why should we have it? (Abolishing) it would be very beneficial. Mandates, that what the whole society is about, what we do all the time. That’s what government is about: mandate, mandate, mandate. We talk so much about the Obama (health insurance) mandate which is so important, but what about Medicare? Isn’t that a mandate? Everything we do is mandate. So, this is why you have to look at this, the cause of liberty. We don’t need the government running our lives.”

Apparently Paul believes a nation of serfs is preferable to high unemployment. Regardless, it's too bad that the Politico reporter who asked the question didn't follow up with a query about whether mandates like child labor laws, workplace safety standards and the 40-hour work week also should be eliminated.

And then there was this paranoid response to a question about whether Paul supports the construction of a fence on the U.S. border with Mexico to help stop the influx of undocumented immigrants.

Calling the fence “a penalty against the American people, too,” Paul added, “In economic turmoil, the people want to leave with their capital and there’s capital controls and there’s people controls. Every time you think about the fence, think about the fences being used against us, keeping us in.”

Trust us, Mr. Paul, I don't think anyone will try to stop you from making a run for the border. We hear Puerto Vallarta is especially beautiful at this time of the year.

Given that Paul is the father of Rand Paul, the U.S. senator from Kentucky, maybe the fact the he believes this blather isn't so far-fetched. It was the younger Paul who, during his campaign last year, told The Louisville Courier-Journal's editorial board that he disliked parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rand Paul said a restaurant or other private business with no government funding should be allowed to discriminate. “In a free society, we will tolerate boorish people who have abhorrent behavior,” he said. (Shades of Chris Finney!)

Also, Rand Paul's ophthalmology practice in Bowling Green has accepted large amounts in Medicare and Medicaid payments for patients, although he opposes both programs. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree: His father, Ron, has called Medicare and Social Security “unconstitutional.”

During the past few months, Ron Paul's supporters have complained the mainstream media ignores him in favor of more establishment GOP candidates, even though Paul does well in many polls. Now that the bright light of media scrutiny is shining on him, though, Paul might be having second thoughts.

<![CDATA[Wisconsin Voters Decide GOP Recalls Today]]>

The state-level political turmoil caused by the Tea Party and its financial backers, the Koch brothers, got its start in Wisconsin under rookie Gov. Scott Walker. Today, Wisconsin voters have the opportunity to oust six Republican state senators in unprecedented recall elections.

Follow the action via a live blog set up by Isthmus, the alt weekly paper in Madison, Wisc. Polls are open until 8 p.m. Central time, so there won't be a lot of action until later.---

Wisconsin Public Television & Radio has a good roundup site here.

<![CDATA[Mills: Ex-Chief a "Republican Leader"]]>

Catherine Smith Mills, a new Republican candidate for Cincinnati City Council, is raising eyebrows with her campaigning.

Mills held a fundraiser April 8 that featured former Police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. as the keynote speaker. In a press release touting the event, Mills is quoted as saying, “As a first time candidate, I am so lucky to have the support and mentorship of Republican leaders in Cincinnati like Tom Streicher.”---

Oh, really?

It's never been stated publicly exactly what political party Streicher endorses, although this revelation may help explain his frequently contemptuous and condescending attitude over the years when appearing before City Council, which is a predominantly Democratic group.

Streicher retired March 18 after almost 40 years with the Police Department, including a rocky 12-year tenure as chief.

What's more strange about Mills' statement is how Streicher already is considered a “leader” in the GOP, just 21 days after he retired from public service. Maybe he's been more active in the local Republican Party without taxpayers or the media knowing about it.

Among the many “highlights” of Streicher's time as chief include his initial resistance to police reforms ordered by a federal court-appointed monitor; his reluctance to confront the slowdown in arrests that occurred after the April 2001 riots; his frequent public temper tantrums; the domestic violence complaint lodged against Streicher by his first wife, Kathryn, which made front-page headlines in The Enquirer in 2001; and his later marriage to a subordinate officer who was then granted disability retirement.

A gushing, semi-factual profile of Streicher that appeared March 19 in The Enquirer indicated Streicher wasn't interested in running for sheriff once Si Leis retires. “Rumors that he'll run for Hamilton County sheriff, he says, aren't true — he wouldn't like the politics of it,” it stated.

Which leaves political observers wondering why he's appearing at a GOP fundraiser and is dubbed “a leader” within the party. Curious.

Also, some people are questioning why Mills is appearing today at the Tax Day Rally organized by the Glendale Tea Party, an organization and event in suburban Hamilton County, outside city limits. Her appearance makes it look like Mills is trying to raise campaign cash for non-city residents who often lobby against Cincinnati's interests, they say.

Mills is a Mount Lookout resident who is works at her family's business, Mills Fence Co. in Golf Manor. She is a former co-chair of the Hamilton County Republican Party's Leadership Council, a young professional networking organization, and has also worked in the Congressional offices of Rob Portman and Jean Schmidt.

<![CDATA[What the U.S. People Really Want]]>

By no measure can The Wall Street Journal be mistaken for a liberal newspaper, so the findings of its latest poll should greatly disturb Republicans.

A poll released late last week, done in conjunction with NBC News, found that most Americans support collective bargaining rights for workers, want to end the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy and impose a surtax on people making more than $1 million annually, and believe economic growth is a higher priority for government than deficit reduction.---

Those results probably don't sit well with John Kasich, Scott Walker or John Boehner.

An incredible 81 percent of respondents support imposing the surtax on the wealthy, while 74 percent want to end the Bush tax cuts for people who make more than $250,000 annually.

Also, 51 percent said government should do more, compared to 46 percent who believe it should do less.

Fifty-six percent said job creation and economic growth should be the government's top priority, while 40 percent said it should be deficit reduction. Reforming the health-care system ranked third, with 28 percent.

Additionally, a sizable 77 percent support collective bargaining rights for public-sector workers, compared to 19 percent opposed.

Similar findings about collective bargaining have been found in recent polls by Gallup, Bloomberg, and The New York Times/CBS News. It's not an anomaly.

Overall, just 31 percent said the nation was headed in the right direction, compared to 60 percent who said it was on the wrong track and 6 percent who were unsure.

With those figures in mind and less than three months in office, it would appear that GOP elected officials at the state and federal levels have significantly misread the mandate given to them by voters in last November's midterm elections.

The poll was based on nationwide telephone interviews of 1,000 adults, including a sample of 200 adults who only use a cellular telephone. It was conducted from Feb. 24-28, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

<![CDATA[Socialism More Popular Than Tea Party]]>

Here's a bit of news that should spoil the day for Sarah Palin, Mike Wilson, Dusty Rhodes and their ilk: A comparison of two polls suggests  that socialism is more popular among Americans than the Tea Party movement.

A new, wide-ranging Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals that 35 percent of respondents had a favorable view of the Tea Party, compared to 36 percent that likes socialism in an earlier Gallup poll. Fifty-two percent of Americans now hold unfavorable views of the Tea Party, which is an all-time high.---

Maybe the results aren't all that surprising. As the liberal Firedoglake blog put it, “Only 35 percent of Americans like the Teabaggers, about the same number that like Saudi Arabia. Kinda figures. Both love to drill for oil, hate gays, and believe in theocracy.”

Other findings included that 54 percent approve of how President Obama is handling his job, compared to 43 percent who disapprove. Also, 52 percent favor stricter gun-control laws, and 31 percent want an outright ban on the sale of all handguns, except to law enforcement officers — numbers that have stayed fairly consistent in recent years.

Given the NRA's lobbying power and heavy contributions to congressional campaigns, however, any toughening of gun laws seems unlikely. Whatever happened to listening to the will of the majority, Mr. Boehner?

The telephone poll was conducted Jan. 13-16 with a random national sample of 1,053 adults, including users of both conventional and cellular telephones. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

By the way, John Boehner (R-West Chester) also was included in the survey. The Orange One had a 39 percent approval rating, with 27 percent disapproving of him and 33 percent expressing no opinion. Two years ago, Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) — his predecessor as House Speaker — had higher approval ratings.

Someone pass the man a hanky.

<![CDATA[Violence and False Equivalencies]]>

After the tragic shootings Saturday in Arizona involving a U.S. congresswoman and a federal judge, some progressive commentators were quick to note the heated rhetoric and provocative imagery used by Sarah Palin's political action committee (PAC), with many blaming it for helping incite violence.---

After the health-care reform vote last March, SarahPAC used its Facebook page to identify 20 Democratic members of Congress that it hoped to defeat in the 2010 mid-term elections. Among the number was U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the head and critically injured Saturday. Giffords remains hospitalized.

Six people were killed and 14 others injured in the attack, which occurred during a meet-and-greet event outside a supermarket.

Palin's Facebook page used symbols resembling rifle scopes to “target” the congressional districts. Shortly afterward, on Twitter, Palin tried to encourage supporters upset by the health-care bill's passage by writing, “Don't Retreat, instead – RELOAD!"

The PAC deleted the graphic from the Facebook page within hours of Saturday's shootings, after having been left online for 10 months, no doubt sensing the coming firestorm of criticism.

(A side-note: Palin has since recycled this lame line numerous times, most recently on her horrible reality TV show on The Learning Channel. Hey, Sarah, it's time for a new catch phrase.)

Many progressive critics said the violent imagery used by Palin was inappropriate, and helped spur psychologically unstable people into acting out on their dark fantasies.

But, as some conservatives have pointed out, it's not just Palin that's resorted to such tactics.

In June 2008, The Daily Kos, a popular liberal bog operated by Markos Moulitsas, used “bulls eye” and “target” wording to identify several Democratic congressional members who voted for amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that gave retroactive immunity from lawsuits to telephone companies that assisted in warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens and turned over telephone records to the government under President George W. Bush.

Among those companies was AT&T, which contributed heavily to several Democratic campaigns and was among the sponsors of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Critics said this was political quid pro quo in exchange for supporting the amendments which, in many instances, it probably was.

The Daily Kos suggested that Democrats who supported the FISA amendments should face primary challenges from people who better represent the party's core values and principles.

The blog wrote on June 25, 2008, “Who to primary? Well, I'd argue that we can narrow the target list by looking at those Democrats who sold out the Constitution last week.” The list included Giffords.

Later, the item continued, “Not all of these people will get or even deserve primaries, but this vote certainly puts a bulls eye on their district.”

Of course, the blog clearly states “on their district” and doesn't resort to the type of gun-related language and imagery that's commonly used by Palin.

And The Daily Kos wording is nowhere near the type of invective used on the Far Right. For example, the liberal blog today posted a copy of a “liberal hunting license” issued by PatriotShop.US, which includes several bullet holes in the body of a donkey that is standing in front of a target. It includes the phrase, “No bag limit, tagging not required.”

Moulitsas believes the mainstream, corporate-owned media is trying to create false equivalencies where few, if any, exist. As an example, he cites the quote from Sharron Angle, the GOP's unsuccessful senatorial candidate in Nevada from last year's election, when she said citizens might have to resort to “Second Amendment remedies” if they weren't successful at the ballot box.

Bottom line, there's a movement fixated on guns and ammo and the Second Amendment and locking and loading and violence as a solution to their problems,” Moulitsas wrote. “Liberals don't talk about 'Second Amendment remedies.' And while many liberals own guns, they don't use them to validate themselves as men and Americans.”

He added, “Fact is, one side is obsessed with using violence as a solution to their political frustrations, and the other side is not. There is no equivalency. Not even close.”

As The Daily Kos also noted, had President Clinton's assault weapons ban not been allowed to expire, alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner probably wouldn't have been able to buy the high-capacity magazine used in his semiautomatic pistol — perhaps a more relevant issue than who's rhetoric might inspire violence.

In the shooting's aftermath, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D-Pa.) is proposing a new law that would prohibit the use of certain threatening imagery and wording in political advertisements.

"This is not a wakeup call," Brady told The New York Times. "This is a major alarm going off. We need to be more civil with each other. We need to tone down this rhetoric."

<![CDATA[Archdiocese Cancels 912 Event]]>

A speech sponsored by the Cincinnati 912 Project at a local Catholic high school has been canceled because it violates the Archdiocese's policy prohibiting partisan events.

The 912 Project, a group inspired by right-wing talk show host and self-professed “rodeo clown” Glenn Beck, had rented space at Purcell Marian High School in East Walnut Hills for the Dec. 11 event.---

The group planned to present a speech by Frantz Kebreau, a black Tea Party supporter who spouts a radical, revisonist view of history designed to sway African-Americans to the cause. It was scheduled at the school from 5-7 p.m., after classes had ended for the day.

Dan Andriacco, an Archdiocese spokesman, said school President Al Early was assured by 912 Project leaders that the event was nonpartisan when they booked the space. After CityBeat informed Andriacco this morning that Kebreau's planned speech was entitled, “Stolen History: What the Democrats, Progressives, and the Left Don’t Want You to Know,” the Archdiocese reconsidered and canceled the group's reservation.

“The title of the talk did not appear in information given to Al Early before he granted permission to use Purcell Marian facilities,” Andriacco said. “In a phone call this afternoon to a member of the Cincinnati 912 Project board, Mr. Early withdrew that permission because the title of the talk definitely indicates a partisan program.”

Andriacco stressed that Kebreau's appearance wasn't sponsored by the school and the Archdiocese doesn't endorse Kebreau's views. He noted that other groups have also rented the space, including the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center on Sept. 25.

“Neither the Archdiocese of Cincinnati nor Purcell Marian High School endorses the platform of any political party or movement in toto,” he said. “We endorse the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the policy aims of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Conference of Ohio.”

<![CDATA[Deters, Leis Injected into State Race]]>

In the increasingly odd race for Ohio auditor, two local Republicans are making headlines around the state. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters sent a nasty letter to the Tea Party's auditor candidate while County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. defended the Democratic candidate from a GOP attack.---

Although the race hasn't received much attention in Greater Cincinnati, it's gotten more scrutiny in Columbus and Cleveland. One of the latest items generating buzz is a video made by Republican candidate David Yost attacking the integrity of Democratic candidate David Pepper.

Pepper, of course, is a Cincinnati native who is a Hamilton County commissioner and son of retired Procter & Gamble CEO John Pepper.

Yost's campaign has created an anti-Pepper web site, called Truth About David Pepper. A video on the site begins with a photograph of a smiling President Obama with a narrator intoning, “Tired of typical politicians who say one thing but do another?” It then cuts to an unflattering photo of Pepper and adds, “Meet David Pepper.”

The video then features an audio clip of Pepper stating how he's voted to reduce taxes and cut spending while a county commissioner. It then mentions votes he took on Cincinnati City Council to raise the hotel tax and impose a so-called “jock tax” on professional athletes when their teams come to town to play away games.

Also, the video mentions how Pepper and Commissioner Todd Portune voted to increase the sales tax, only to have the action overturned by a voter referendum.

Later, the video talks about how Pepper is soft on public safety, stating he “laid off cops, closed jails and let criminals run free in the streets.”

What the video doesn't mention, however, is the sale-tax hike was requested by Leis — the tough-as-nails Republican sheriff — and mostly would've paid to build and operate a new jail.

In an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer about the commercial, Leis said there was no choice but to close the jail and lay off workers, and doesn't blame Pepper. “The voters had two chances to solve the problem, and they turned it down both times," Leis told the newspaper.

At the same time that Yost's campaign is alleging Pepper is soft on crime, it's using an ex-Deters employee convicted of a criminal offense as a spokesman.

The spokesman, Matt Borges, was one of two staffers who agreed to a deal with a special prosecutor heading a political corruption probe. Borges pleaded guilty to improper use of a public office, stemming from Deters' time as Ohio treasurer. The charge is a first-degree misdemeanor and Borges was fined $1,000.

Deters was elected treasurer in 1998, but left that position when his office was investigated for allegedly accepting secret campaign contributions, a scandal that hurt Deters’ reputation statewide and led him to return to Cincinnati and run as a write-in candidate for old job as county prosecutor in fall 2004.

The probe involving Deters began when an imprisoned former securities broker admitted he knowingly concealed a $50,000 contribution to the Deters campaign through the Hamilton County Republican Party, and said he reimbursed other people for contributions they made.

Deters lashed out at Seth Morgan, a Tea Partier who unsuccessfully ran in the May GOP primary against Yost, when Morgan began publicizing Borges' past.

Deters issued a press release that stated, “I am extremely disappointed at the letter sent to Dave Yost by a member of Seth Morgan’s campaign staff, it was a cheap shot from a young man who doesn’t have the facts. This is actually a sophomoric, bumbled, and inaccurate political smear that tells me Seth Morgan is probably not ready to seek statewide office. Holding such an office requires good judgment and careful consideration of serious issues. The Morgan letter is about as far from that level of professionalism as it gets.”

Borges' conviction eventually was expunged and his criminal record sealed by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Eileen A. Gallagher. She is perhaps best-known for throwing out a case against an alleged rapist when a prosecutor was 45 minutes late to a hearing.

Earlier this year Morgan, a state representative from Huber Heights, had sought the Republican endorsement to run for auditor. He and other Tea Partiers were angered when GOP leaders asked Yost to drop his race for Ohio attorney general and instead run for state auditor.

Democrats blanched last week when The Columbus Dispatch quoted Borges criticizing an anti-fraud plan proposed by Pepper.

Pepper's “right about cracking down on fraud, but you don't go about it by having meetings and issuing press releases. You do it by electing an auditor who is a prosecutor and who knows how to detect and tackle fraud,” Borges told The Dispatch.

Conservative blogs have defended Yost's usage of Borges.

Writing on his Right Ohio blog, Matt Naugle states: “The truth is, the people who give to the Treasurer’s office race are usually bankers and brokers who want to handle state money. Just like the only people who give to Attorney General’s race are lawyers who want special counsel contracts … and it is a very fine line between donors supporting good government and hoping to get access to apply for state work …”

Naugle adds, “In short, politics is the only business in which someone can give you many thousands of dollars and is supposed to expect nothing in return.”

<![CDATA[Tea Party Leader Skips TV Forum (Updated)]]>


It's 72 hours and counting.

That's how long it has been since CityBeat e-mailed Mike Wilson, a Republican candidate and Cincinnati Tea Party leader, to learn why he skipped a planned appearance at a candidates' forum Wednesday night in Forest Park. So far, we've received no reply.---

CityBeat wrote Wilson and his campaign manager, Justin Binik-Thomas, to give them an opportunity to respond to a press release issued Thursday by the Hamilton County Democratic Party about Wilson's absence. The release, under the headline of “The Tea Party's Missing Messiah,” speculated that Wilson skipped the appearance at Waycross Community Media to avoid another face-to-face appearance with his opponent, State Rep. Connie Pillich (D-Montgomery).

The press release stated that Wilson was embarrassed by his performance against Pillich a few days earlier on Newsmakers, the Sunday morning political chat show on WKRC-TV (Channel 12), hosted by Dan Hurley.

“The Tea Party Messiah running against Connie Pillich in the 28th House District failed to show up!,” the release stated. “Maybe that's because his appearance on Channel 12's Newsmakers last Sunday morning was less than successful.”

Wilson has never been one to shy away from publicity in the past, and has typically been responsive to CityBeat's requests for information. We still hope to hear back from him.

Meanwhile, readers can gauge Wilson's TV performance by watching his Newsmakers appearance here.

(**UPDATE: Wilson's campaign contacted CityBeat to inform us that his new campaign manager is Maggi Cook, who replaces Binik-Thomas. Campaign spokesman David Watkins said Wilson never committed to appear at the Waycross forum, but thanked the local Democratic Party for the publicity.

"Mike had a previously scheduled event that night and never committed to attend the Waycross forum.  He is simply not able to be in two places at one time," Watkins said. "However, Mike is looking forward to debating Rep. Pillich on Oct. 20 at Princeton High School as the campaigns agreed."

A Waycross spokesperson said every political candidate running for any office that serves the areas of Forest Park, Greenhills and Springfield Township received personal, registered letters inviting them to the scheduled debate. Wilson did receive his letter, because Waycross has the signed copy of his receipt. "At that point, he was informed of the debate and it was his choice not to appear," the spokesperson said.)

<![CDATA[Who's Rewriting History? ]]>

It's gone now, but the buzz about it at City Hall and in political circles still is ongoing.

An e-mail circulated this week — presumably among conservative Republicans — referenced the Wikipedia entry for Cincinnati City Hall, which had been changed to include a lie about Congressman Steve Driehaus, a Democrat, implying he was anti-Christian.---

The altered paragraph stated: “A granite statue of Jesus was contributed by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 1864 and displayed in the alcove on the south side of the building until 2003. In 2003, the statue was removed as a result of a lawsuit filed by Steve Driehaus regarding the separation of church and state.”

Driehaus never filed such a lawsuit.

In fact, a lawsuit of that type would be big news in predominantly conservative, Catholic Cincinnati. If you can't remember hearing about it, it's for good reason: There never was a legal battle over Jesus at City Hall.

An e-mail inquiring about the Wikipedia passage's origin was sent to “four or five people” by Brad Beckett, chief of staff to Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Monzel. One of the people who received the e-mail was Joanne S. Kemmerer, a Norwood resident and right-wing Christian activist involved in the anti-abortion movement. It's unclear if she forwarded it to others.

Although some media outlets have said Beckett was publicizing the passage, he flatly denies the allegation. “My e-mail asked if people can believe this and includes five question marks,” Beckett said. “If it was for (the general public), do you think I would've included five questions marks? It's ridiculous. It's clearly bogus and I was checking it out.”

Asked how he learned of the Wikipedia passage, Beckett replied, “It was brought to our attention by a constituent.”

The passage has since been deleted by Wikipedia.

The brief rewriting of history is the latest example of odd dirty tricks in political campaigns recently. The campaign staffs for Driehaus and his Republican opponent, Steve Chabot, have each accused the other of removing or defacing campaign signs on the city's West Side.

Also, the local Democratic Party chairman is asking for an investigation into claims allegedly made by Republican candidate Mike Robison against Driehaus' sister, State Rep. Denise Driehaus. In that instance, Robison allegedly has said on the campaign trail that Denise Driehaus tried to change her surname to her husband's, but was rejected by the Board of Elections; in fact, such a request was never made.

Robison has denied comment to the media, citing the possibility of an investigation.

In the latest kurfuffle, Beckett thinks the Wikipedia passage was changed by Driehaus supporters in a bid to gain him some sympathy.

“Personally, I think someone did it as a prank on the Democratic side to say, 'The Tea Party was up to no good again.'”

Is it November yet?

<![CDATA[Here Are Pillich's Military Honors]]>

This week's Porkopolis column looks at the Internet critics questioning the military service of State Rep. Connie Pillich (D-Montgomery), a U.S. Air Force veteran.

Some conservative bloggers have wondered whether Pillich earned the ribbons and medals that she wears at some campaign appearances.---

Pillich is running for her second Ohio House term. Her Republican opponent is Mike Wilson, a Springfield Township resident who leads the Cincinnati Tea Party.

Here is a photo of the ribbons and medals that Pillich has, along with a specific identification for each. That should lay the controversy manufactured by her opponents to rest.

Meanwhile, the column prompted an anonymous voicemail message that said, "I'm calling to let you know that the Tea Party is coming this November, so all you moraless (sic) Democrats and fake Republicans should watch out. Yeah!"

We stand forewarned.



<![CDATA[Tea Party Spokesman Leaves Group]]>

Last week's Porkopolis column examined the in-fighting among the various Tea Party factions after the spokesman of the Tea Party Express wrote a satirical blog item about a letter from “Coloreds” to President Abraham Lincoln.

The not very funny but very hateful item was written by conservative radio talk show host Mark Williams, who was angered by the NAACP's resolution asking the political movement to denounce and expel its racist elements.---

On his blog, Williams wrote, “Dear Mr. Lincoln, We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing … Bailouts are just big money welfare and isn’t that what we want all Coloreds to strive for?” Williams wrote. “What kind of racist would want to end big money welfare? What they need to do is start handing the bailouts directly to us Coloreds!”

The item was roundly criticized as improper by the Tea Party Federation and Tea Party Nation, which called for Williams' ouster. The Express leadership refused and stood by the defiant Williams, who defended his remarks.

Less than two weeks later, however, Williams has reconsidered.

“Today, the Tea Party Express received a letter from Mark Williams expressing his desire to separate himself completely from the Tea Party Express,” the group's press release stated.

“Over a month ago, Williams stepped down as chairman of the organization to pursue other activities, but still offered to remain available as a spokesperson as needed in the future,” it continued. “Today, he went further to completely cut his ties to the Tea Party Express.”

The press release also included a copy of Williams' resignation, part of which is excerpted below.

“I feel compelled to separate myself from any further involvement with the Tea Party Express so that I can pursue other interests and to free the tea party movement from any more distraction based on my personal comments or blogs,” Williams wrote.

“The media coverage over a recent satirical posting on my personal blog risks injuring the Tea Party Express, the tea party movement as a whole, and the people in this movement who I respect and admire so much,” Williams added. “It has become increasingly unacceptable that the media and our domestic enemies continue to anoint me as the official voice of a massively diverse and broad-based movement.”

Hmm. Isn't a “spokesperson,” as Williams was deemed by the Express, by implication the “official voice of a massively diverse and broad-based movement?”

Don't feel sympathy for the Express, because it knew the type of vitriol to expect from Williams. In the past, he’s called President Obama “the former Barry Soetoro, Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug turned anointed,” and referred to President Carter as a “creepy little faggot.”