“Do you repudiate Richard Fink’s remarks at the Koch retreat this summer?” a reporter asked Mitch McConnell the other day.
His chattiness was caught on tape at the now famous Father’s Day fund-raising conclave hosted by Charles and David Koch. But when the scribe aimed a mike at McConnell, mum was the word from the senate majority leader-wannabe.
McConnell had heaped high praise on the Koch sibs. He promised the billionaire Republican donors present that hogs would fly before a GOP senate under his reign would hike the minimum wage. Fink, a Koch political guru, compared any such pay boost to fascism.
“This is not just in Germany,” Laura Clawson of the Daily Kos quoted Fink. “It's in Russia, in Lenin, and Stalin Russia, and then Mao. This is the recruitment ground for fascism."
Fink’s bizzaro blather reminded me of a Kentucky senator who, in a 1962 speech at Yale, said that members of the far right-wing John Birch Society, the Tea Party of his day, “don’t know anything about history” and they “apparently have never read anything at all.”
The solon would become Addison Mitchell McConnell’s boss. He was Sen. John Sherman Cooper, a Bluegrass State mountain Republican who didn’t duck the liberal label.
So what does this have to do with Kentucky? A lot. Jesse Benton has served as Ron Paul’s campaign manager, Rand Paul’s campaign manager and Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager. Jesse Benton is also married Ron Paul’s granddaughter. Dimitri Kesari served as Ron Paul’s deputy campaign manager and has performed work for Senator Mitch McConnell’s campaign.
Many Kentucky political pundits were surprised by Senator Rand Paul’s rise in 2010. In 2010 Senator Mitch McConnell endorsed Trey Grayson in the Republican senatorial primary. Rand Paul was pretty much unknown at the time and Trey Grayson was Senator Mitch McConnell’s man. We all know what happened after that. Rand Paul won the primary and went on to defeat Jack Conway in the general election and left Senator Mitch McConnell scratching his head and impressed, all at the same time.
So how did Rand Paul defeat, Senator Mitch McConnell’s man, Trey Grayson? With a little help from his friends and daddy Paul, that’s how. Guess who showed up at the Young Americans for Liberty March 2010 spring break seminar, during the 2010 Kentucky senatorial primary. Dimitri Kesari. Now you can guess who the the Young Americans for Liberty supported after the seminar. Rand Paul that’s who.
Freedom Works An overwhelming majority of these students support Rand Paul for Kentucky’s next Senator. This should come as no surprise.
If the new NBC/Marist poll is right, most Kentuckians evidently don’t care how cozy Sen. Mitch McConnell is with the Koch brothers or that his ex-campaign manager quit because it looks like he might be involved in a seamy political bribery scandal in Iowa.
Among likely voters, the survey has the senate majority leader wannabe up 47-39 over Alison Lundergan Grimes, his Democratic challenger. Libertarian David Patterson is at 8 percent in the poll.
Okay, this is where candidates trailing in the polls – and their supporters – say the polls are wrong and that the only poll that counts is the one on election day.
Of course, voters have proved polls wrong. They might do it again on Nov. 4.
However, the NBC/Marist poll comes after two other recent surveys that showed McConnell with leads among likely voters – 47-45 in a Survey USA Bluegrass Poll and 50-46 in a CNN/ORC International poll. Both spreads were within the surveys’ margin of error.
The Bluegrass poll was taken before The Nation magazine released an audiotape of McConnell fawning over big bucks Republican donors at a secret strategy meeting in California hosted by the Koch sibs. The CNN poll came after the cash fest and post Jesse Benton resigning.
More than a few Bluegrass State Democrats expected – or at least hoped – that subsequent surveys would break Grimes’ way over the Koch conclave and Benton’s retreat.
The NBC/Marist poll showed that Kentuckians still view McConnell unfavorably by a 48-45 margin. They see Grimes pretty much the same way – 43 percent unfavorable, 41 percent favorable.
But in the polls, McConnell is winning where it counts, in the head-to-head matchup. That’s more proof that Team Mitch is succeeding in making the election a referendum on President Obama.
Obama lost Kentucky, big-time in 2008 and 2012. Today, Kentuckians disapprove of his job as president by 64-29 in the CNN/ORC poll.
Grimes is trying to get Kentuckians see the election as between McConnell and her. She has distanced herself from the president, especially on coal.
“I don’t think that’s working,” said a veteran western Kentucky Democrat who is for Grimes. “McConnell keeps saying ‘Grimes-Obama, Grimes-Obama, Grimes-Obama.’ That’s what people are listening to.”
He didn’t say what “people.” He meant white people, who make up almost 92 percent of Kentucky’s population.
I’m not for a minute saying everybody who is against the president and for McConnell is a racist. Neither would Obama or Grimes.
But a lot of white people don’t like Obama because he’s not white. Racism is the elephant in the room in homes from Paducah to Pikeville.
A lot of reporters choose to ignore the pachyderm. “The president's high disapproval rating is fueled in part by his policy on coal -- a major employer in parts of Kentucky,” wrote CNN’s Mark Preston in crunching the CNN/ORC numbers.
David Hawpe sees the elephant if Preston doesn’t or doesn’t want to. “It’s not just a coal thing,” Hawpe, the former Louisville Courier-Journal editorial page editor, wrote in The Lexington Herald-Leader after Mitt Romney blew out Obama in the Bluegrass State going on two years ago. “Nor is it just about Kentucky's religious, conservative, rural values.”
Hawpe concluded, “Nobody wants to say it out loud, but race is part of the political equation, in Kentucky and elsewhere. We're not post-racial, yet.”
To be sure, few white people will admit to reporters that they hate Obama because he’s black. Even so, GOP bigwigs are clued in.
“We are still a racist state, I hate to admit,” an unnamed Republican strategist confessed to Politico’s Jason Zingerle a few months ago when the McConnell campaign was cranking up. “Anything you can connect to Barack Obama is a winning thing for us.”
Hawpe, an eastern Kentucky native, zeroed in on the Bluegrass State neck of the woods where I was born, reared and still live: “McConnell used the GOP Southern strategy handed to him by Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon, took Western Kentucky away from the Democrats, and changed the state's political personality.”
Hawpe quoted GOP operative Kevin Phillips’ famous explanation of the Southern Strategy that The New York Times published in 1970: “From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that .... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.’”
Democrat Obama’s moderate politics is pretty close to Democrat Bill Clinton’s. But Kentuckians are favorably impressed with the white guy from Arkansas by a margin of 61-35, according to the NBC/Marist Poll.
Meanwhile, the poll also showed that anything that just has Obama’s name on it is poison in Kentucky. Kentuckians don’t like “Obamacare” – McConnell’s slam term for the Affordable Care Act -- by a 62-31 margin, according to the NBC/Marist poll.
But they favor Kynect, -- the name of the Bluegrass State’s health exchange under the ACA -- by 34-18, with 18 percent unsure. Thirty percent had never heard of Kynect.
Meanwhile Team Mitch rolls on, with the captain pandering to the social issues and practicing dog whistle politics with the white folks. He doesn’t have to say anything about the president’s skin color.
Tooting his whistle by calling the president’s “war on coal” a “jihad,” the Muslim word for “holy war,” is working just fine for him, if the polls are correct.
And he’s not about to dispute Kentucky white folks who think Obama is a Kenyan-born, Islamo-Socialist who wants to replace the constitution with Sharia Law. He’s also way cool with Kentuckians who don’t know that “Obamacare” and “Kynect” are the same thing.
Washington Post Kentucky: Crossroads GPS is dropping into the race between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) beginning Oct. 6. The group, led by former McConnell chief of staff Steven Law, will spend $1.2 million on ads that week. Read more.
Meanwhile, the candidate, Randy Bridges, has boosted Sanderson’s ardor even more. Shortly after Labor Day, he appeared in a front-page Paducah Sun newspaper photo with pro-right to work House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover and other like-minded western Kentucky Republican legislators and hopefuls.
The state senate has a right to work Republican majority. The GOP has made passage of a right to work law a top priority if they win the house Nov. 4.
Gov. Steve Beshear would almost certainly veto a right to work bill. But in Kentucky, a veto can be overridden by a simple majority of both houses.
The Kentucky State AFL-CIO has endorsed Bridges’ opponent, State Rep. Gerald Watkins, D-Paducah. He followed Bridges to the microphone and was cheered loudly when he cited Communist China as an example of right to work territory.
“I was so angry about Bridges coming into our house and saying what he said that I was awake half the night thinking about it,” Sanderson said. “It’s like somebody coming into your house and taking the food off your table.
“Are you going to give him a to-go bag? Or are you going to do something about it?”
Sanderson got busy exercising the latter option.
He has already lined up state Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, as the rally’s featured speaker. A native of McCracken County, of which Paducah is the seat, Carroll was governor in 1975-79.
Carroll’s father, “Buster” Carroll, was a member of Paducah Operating Engineers Local 181, according to Sanderson, who was business manager of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 184 for many years.
“I want to get as many retired union people up on the stage as we can,” he added. “I want them to stand up. Then we can ask the crowd, ‘Do you want to lose everything these guys did for you? Are you going to be the generation that lost it all?’”
To generate publicity for the rally, Sanderson is having a union print shop in Paducah turn out fliers and hard-hat stickers. “I’ll take the fliers around to union halls and plant gates and parking lots myself if I have to, but I need help.”
Local 184 chipped in $500 and pledged helpers. The Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council voted $100 toward the rally and delegates promised to aid Sanderson.
“I want people to wear their hard hats to the rally, and their union tee-shirts. I want to fill those grandstands with union members, our families and our friends. Politicians who are our friends are welcome to come and be recognized.
"We welcome everybody to unite with us to repel the vicious attacks that are being planned against the working men and women of Kentucky.”
The Paducah rally is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 11, 2014 noon to 2 p.m., local time. More information is available from Sanderson at (270) 564-1108. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fox News Mitch McConnell: “As the American people continue to ask, ‘where are the jobs,’ Gov. McDonnell has offered common-sense economic policies in stark contrast to Washington Democrats’ job-killing agenda. We don’t need a government takeover of health care or a ‘cap-and-trade’ national energy tax – we need a common-sense plan to help middle-class families and small businesses and allow them to keep more of what they earn so they can save, invest, and hire.”
“Gov. McDonnell understands that the American people are more interested in shrinking unemployment than expanding government. He is an impressive public servant and an excellent choice to offer Republican solutions for our country.”Read more.
Three people arrive at their polling places to cast their votes:
A billionaire, who pays less than 15% in actual taxes (after legal deductions and favorable capital gains rates – likely about 12%) is driven to a polling place in a limousine. He/she travels on streets constructed and maintained by tax dollars and, given more than a sufficient number of voting booths in his/her wealthy voting precinct, votes quickly and can get on with their day with the least bit of inconvenience . While briefly in the booth he/she votes for candidates who, although it was like pocket change to them, he/she contributed a very substantial amount of money to (an amount that would be life changing for most working families) in both the primary and general election campaigns or anonymously and unlimited through Super PACs. There may be no formal agreement but they fully expects their calls to be answered and their issues favorably addressed once the representative they so generously supported (i.e. sponsored) is elected or re-elected to office. They can rest assured that they will be represented.
An hourly worker, who effectively pays greater than 15% taxes-despite living paycheck to paycheck (sales tax on almost every dollar, payroll tax on every dollar, state tax, fuel tax on a large portion of their earnings that go into their fuel tanks) driving in a 15 year old Escort that needs a new transmission very soon, wants to stop at his or her polling place and vote on the way to work but the lines of people waiting are too long due to an insufficient number of booths in their working class precinct. After work he or she stands in line as long as possible but has to leave without voting to pick up a child at daycare. He or she had little or no influence on who appeared on the ballet; having not even spare pocket change to contribute to a candidate of their choice prior to primaries and even if they did there would be no candidates who share their life experiences running because people like them are now too busy surviving in the era of trickle-down economics to run for office.
A homeless veteran of a long ago war, living in a homeless shelter or on the streets, walks to a polling place but is turned away because he or she has no photo ID. The country he or she served is no longer willing to grant them the right to vote. Although the 15th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude" I guess those who are putting in place phony “Voter Fraud” laws across the country, obviously intent on limiting the number of votes from those historically not favorable to their sponsored candidates, can point out that it doesn't prohibit denying the right to vote for not having a photo ID. Add to this scenario the thousands of Kentuckians and millions of Americans permanently disenfranchised for missteps and mistakes long since paid for through the legal system.
The phrase, "One person one vote" was used in an important legal ruling in the United States, the Supreme Court majority opinion in Reynolds v. Sims (1964). The ruling required redistricting by state legislatures for congressional districts to keep represented populations equal, as well as requiring both houses of state legislatures to have districts drawn that contained roughly equal populations. Perhaps it is time for the Supreme Court to consider economic as well as geographic factors. Perhaps it is time for the Supreme Court to stop making rulings that give corporations personhood and billionaire’s unlimited power to sway elections. As the courts fail our democracy, it is time for a Constitutional Amendment unambiguously declaring that Corporations are not people and that money is not free speech.
Elections have become little more than a contest to see which party and their clandestine partners can raise the most money to flood airwaves with ads and, as trickle up economics works its magic, candidates who depend on contributions of regular people, cannot compete with candidates who represent billionaires and corporate PACs. Pocket change of those who have benefitted from trickle-down economics overwhelms what those victimized by it can afford to donate. The “money equals free speech” voice of a very few have effectively silenced the vast majority.
My father says “A house that is bought and paid for is a great and valuable thing to have, but a US House member that is bought and paid for is a grave danger that should be avoided.”
I’m Ron Leach – Candidate for US Congress. Please help me deliver the message to Washington that OUR Democracy is not for sale! Help me be the voice for the silenced majority. Please spread the word, contribute as possible, and most importantly VOTE November 4th.
Who would rather spend father’s day with Charles and David Koch rather than his children and/or family? A Senator from Kentucky that’s who. Senator Mitch McConnell to be exact.
June 15, 2014 was father’s day and Senator Mitch McConnell seemed to be content to spend the day with David and Charles Koch rather than spending time with his children or family.
The Nation What McConnell didn’t tell Politico was that two months ago, he made the same promise to a secret strategy conference of conservative millionaire and billionaire donors hosted by the Koch brothers. The Nation and The Undercurrent obtained an audio recording of McConnell’s remarks to the gathering, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society.” In the question-and-answer period following his June 15 session titled “Free Speech: Defending First Amendment Rights,” McConnell says:
“So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board [inaudible]. All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it.” Read more.
Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence
One of the transit bloggers that I enjoy reading is Alon Levy who blogs his observations on a variety of transit topics at Pedestrian Observations . Following the important California HSR funding vote in the California State Senate and the excitement leading up to it, I thought I'd like to take a look at the proposed Express HSR system for the states of the Northeast Corridor.
Of the $53b cost of the proposed San Francisco to Los Angeles Express HSR corridor seems hefty ~ and it seems even heftier when it shows the Year of Expenditure headline value of $68b ~ then the proposed Northeast Corridor states Express HSR will seem massive.
However, Alon claims:
Northeast Corridor HSR, 90% Cheaper ...
In contrast with this extravaganza, it is possible to achieve comparable travel times for about one tenth the cost. The important thing is to build the projects with the most benefit measured in travel time reduced or reliability gained per unit of cost, and also share tracks heavily with commuter rail, using timed overtakes to reduce the required amount of multi-tracking.
This sounds like an intriguing possibility ... but is it realistic? Or is it wishful thinking? Follow me below the fold, and then let's discuss it.