Equivalence in Kentucky: Healthcare and votes

Mitch McConnell did this during the recent debate with Alison Lundergan Grimes:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said Monday he wouldn’t mind if the state healthcare insurance exchange known as Kentucky Kynect stayed but reiterated his call for the full repeal of ObamaCare.
Policy experts have questioned the feasibility of preserving the popular state exchange while also repealing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which set it up and similar exchanges around the country.

“Kentucky Kynect is a website. It was paid for by a two-hundred-and-some-odd-million-dollar grant from the federal government. The website can continue but in my view the best interests of the country would be achieved by pulling out ObamaCare root and branch,” McConnell said in a debate with Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic candidate for Senate.

Now Mitch knows that Kynect and Obamacare are the same thing. And he knows that if you repeal Obamacare, you repeal Kynect.

He also knows that Kynect is popular in the Bluegrass State, which is why he says keep the Web site.

Which is meaningless.

Mitch thinks Kentucky voters are idiots. Unfortunately, some are:

Greg Sargent gets a great nugget from Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, who “recently conducted a statewide poll in Kentucky for an unnamed client and found that Kynect polls very positively, in contrast to Obamacare, which is underwater.”

Kynect is the Kentucky version of the Affordable Care Act exchange. To the extent the polling is correct, these results are another example of people loving the ACA but hating Obamacare.

Which just isn’t very surprising. People still don’t really know what “Obamacare” is. Why should they? There’s nothing labeled “Obamacare” that anyone has to deal with; almost nothing labeled “Affordable Care Act;” and there aren’t even all that many noticeable parts of the new system. Of course, Kynect is one of those new things, but there’s no reason for anyone in Kentucky to know that it has anything to do with the national law.

Alison should have been able to kick his ass on this subject. But she’s too busy not saying whether she voted for Obama. So her mealy mouthed stance on her vote is being treated as the equivalent of Mitch taking healthcare away from people who were never able to afford it before.

Oh, and when Alison was asked about Obamacare in May, here’s what happened:

Alison Lundergan Grimes made big news the other day by refusing to say whether she would have voted for the Affordable Care Act. She did say: “I am not and will not be for taking away insurance that 400,000 Kentuckians just recently got access to.” But Grimes’ position remains careful. She subsequently followed up by clarifying that the law would look “different” if she’d been in the Senate.

And that’s why Alison is screwing up this election.

Act like a Democrat, already!

 

Mitch McConnell stinks! Ask his campaign manager.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, is fighting off a Tea Party threat in his primary race, and a threat from a Democratic Party that smells blood in the 2014 election.

And, it turns out, he faces a threat within his own campaign organization:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) campaign manager said he’s begrudgingly working in his current capacity to help the presidential prospects of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), according to an explosive phone recording that surfaced Thursday.

In the recording, obtained by Economic Policy Journal, Jesse Benton — who ran Paul’s successful 2010 campaign before joining McConnell’s team — told conservative activist Dennis Fusaro that he has an ulterior motive in working the GOP leader’s 2014 campaign.

“Between you an me, I’m sorta holding my nose for two years,” Benton said in the recording, “’cause what we’re doing here is gonna be a big benefit to Rand in ’16.”

The call was recorded by Fusaro on January 9.

Wow!

McConnell doesn’t even have unity within his own campaign. Of course, there’s lots of backtracking and clarifications going on. Benton is shocked and dismayed that someone would actually let people know what he really thinks of Mitch. But McConnell took on Benton because he knew the Tea Party crazies were out to get him.

Bottom line is that Benton is saying Rand Paul is the guy who now runs Republican politics in Kentucky.

If the U.S. Senate minority leader doesn’t have control of his state’s party, he surely can’t keep control in the Senate for long.

 

Paul vs. Christie: Let’s get ready to rumble!!!

Wasn’t the Chris Christie/Rand Paul catfight last week a thing of beauty? Let’s take a trip down memory lane:

Of course, Blitzer is going to let the person in Washington have the most air time, because that’s what he does. But although my home is in Kentucky, I’ve got to side with Christie on this one.

Rand Paul talks about government spending, and Kentucky gets more money from the federal government than it puts in. Chris Christie talks about government spending, and New Jersey (another state I’ve had a home in) gets less money than it puts in.

If Paul is going to be a champion of fiscal rectitude, he should cut spending in his back yard. But he doesn’t want to do that. He wants to cut spending that goes to other states.

And let’s not ignore the point that Rand Paul’s economic policies hurt the people of Kentucky. When he talks about spending cuts, he talking about cuts to education, infrastructure and government services. Kentucky is not a rich state, and part of the reason it gets more in federal spending than it gives is because businesses in the commonwealth don’t generate high enough individual wages to lead to a balance in taxes to government spending. New Jersey, with a higher quality of education, better infrastructure and more responsible government services, does.

So what do their arguments boil down to?

Chris Christie is saying Rand Paul is a hypocrite (which he is).

Rand Paul is saying Chris Christie is fat (which he is).

Anyway, both guys are running for president. A bunch of misguided political pundits say this catfight is good for both of them? I don’t understand that logic. If you’re on the defense this early in the 2016 election process, people will be fed up with you by the end of 2014.

But scratch away, guys.

 

The Kentucky Senate race just got interesting

Despite a really bad start, things aren’t looking bad for Allison Lundergan Grimes’s bid for Mitch McConnell‘s Senate seat (via Daily Kos):

Is Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race a tossup? That’s what the Cook Political Report now says, citing surveys from Public Policy Polling and The Mellman Group showing Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes leading Mitch McConnell.

PPP’s survey, released yesterday and conducted last week on behalf of the progressive groups DFA and PCCC, showed Grimes narrowly leading McConnell by 45-44 margin. Mellman’s survey was released today and was conducted July 20-24. It showed Grimes leading McConnell by a 44-42 margin. (Update/edit: Mellman’s poll was conducted for the Grimes campaign and it was released by them.)

Both surveys show the depth of McConnell’s unpopularity: His net approval rating in PPP’s survey was -11. Mellman’s survey showed McConnell with just a 38 percent positive approval rating and 58 percent negative. Mellman’s survey showed Grimes with a net positive rating of +4. Her 33 percent positive rating nearly matches McConnell’s despite his higher name recognition.

PPP’s and Mellman’s polling were both conducted before Kentucky businessman Matt Bevin kicked off his primary challenge to McConnell. Grimes held her official kickoff on Tuesday.

McConnell’s campaign responded to the new numbers by claiming the results of the Mellman poll had been “concocted” and were “fictitious.”

Speaking of conspiracy theories, last week, Republican firm Wenzel Strategies—the pollster of record for World Net Daily aka Birther Central—released a poll conducted July 19-21 showing McConnell with an 8 point lead over Grimes. Aside from the WND ties, it’s worth pointing out that Wenzel Strategies also released a poll one week before the 2012 election showing Mitt Romney would win Ohio, so obviously Karl Rove loves them too.

There’s a strong possibility Mitch is going with the numbers that proved so positive for Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. But the other side of this is that Mitch is going to be in a primary fight with an insane Tea Bagger, and if the Tea Bagger knocks him off, there’s no telling how Kentucky is going to go.

So Grimes has to hope that the Tea Bagger damages McConnell enough during the primary so that Mitch comes out a winner, but wounded. And she’ll have to be relentless in kicking him while he’s down.

It’s what Mitch would do if the tables were turned.

The race is on in Kentucky: Is Grimes ready to rumble?

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Monday that she will run against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014. Grimes is the Kentucky secretary of state and was probably one of the last hopes for Kentucky Democrats to unseat the five-term Republican.

Something seems off about her announcement in Frankfort:

Grimes delivered her remarks in front of a banner for her 2011 secretary of state campaign, spoke for just a few minutes and answered two brief questions before departing. The entire press conference, which began more than half an hour late, lasted less than five minutes.

Uh oh.

Maybe this is an overreaction, but when you’re taking on a guy who isn’t particularly loved in the state and you know he’s going to run a vicious campaign, maybe you want to make a more forceful presence when you announce you’re going to run.

Like:

— Stand in front of a banner that points to the future, not the past.

— Announce your candidacy outdoors in front of a crowd of supporters in your hometown. Grimes was born in Maysville in northeastern Kentucky near the Ohio border. She went to high school and made her career in Lexington, the heart of Bluegrass Country. But she made her announcement in the state capital, Frankfort. Not a wise move since Frankfort reinforces the idea that you’re a politician first and a Kentuckian second.

— Make sure there’s lots of cheering and enthusiasm for the television cameras so people in the state know you’re popular. Did you notice in the video above that you don’t see excited people and you don’t hear any cheering? That means there weren’t any excited people and there wasn’t much cheering, because the essence of television news is to present the best pictures and sounds (words are irrelevant). If the TV crew thought this was the best stuff they had to show, you’re in trouble.

— Don’t be late for your announcement. Unless your doing it in front of a crowd of enthusiastic supporters … then people see the television feed where you’re getting their congratulations and realize that’s what kept you from getting up on stage in time.

— Make sure your announcement lasts for more than “five minutes.” Five minutes is the time it takes for the bio film your staff put together to show you’re rise from modest beginnings to become one of the most powerful women in the state. Wait! What? There was no bio film?!

— Answer more than two questions at your press conference. Elections are like dates. First impressions count. If the first impression you leave is, “I can’t wait to get out of here,” folks are going to think you’re really not that serious about the job.

But maybe I’m not seeing the big picture here. I’m sure political experts in Kentucky have a better fix on this:

Even before Grimes made her decision, one prominent Democratic consultant grumbled to The Fix that it was a rollout unworthy of a major political campaign. “If it is a ‘yes,’ then this will go down as one of the worst rollouts ever,” said the Democratic consultant, who was granted anonymity to offer a candid assessment.

Oh, crap. Anything else go wrong?

* Grimes’s announcement was not promoted on her Twitter account, her Facebook page or really by anyone other than her top adviser, who told the Associated Press about the 3 p.m. announcement on Monday morning.

* As of Tuesday afternoon, Grimes still had no campaign Web site, though GrimesforSenate.com and AlisonforSenate.com appear to have been snapped up by someone. That means that anybody who was excited by her launch and wants to contribute money to her campaign has no outlet to do so.

* According to Ryan Alessi, a terrific reporter in Kentucky, people in the room at Grimes’s announcement described it as “unorthodox,” “unprecedented,” “fascinating” and even “surreal.” Grimes didn’t tell even her closest advisers about her decision until she made it.

Where do we begin?

— Look, it’s the 21st century. Social media is everything in campaigns, and it sounds like there’s no social media expertise here. You get buzz on Twitter and Facebook. You want people talking about your campaign even before you know you’re going to campaign. This is a pretty big oversight.

— Strike that. The fact you didn’t grab the URLs GrimesforSenate.com and AlisonforSenate.com months ago is huge. This is basic preparation. The easiest thing for people to guess for your campaign Web addresses are these two URLs. I really hope Grimes’s people have this and haven’t told anyone. Because if they don’t, I’d put my money on the likelihood that McConnell’s people have these addresses and will use them to screw over the Grimes campaign every chance they get. A parody page or, even worse, a pretend campaign site that looks serious but has all kinds of misleading posts. Look, if this is a political course, the syllabus name is Basic Ratfucking 101.

You don’t know what that means?

Rat-fuck: It was resurrected by the “USC Mafia” in school elections before they joined the Nixon administration and perfected the practice; it means to utilize dirty tactics (i.e. stealing ballots, changing the time of events with organizers, etc.) in political campaigns to win at any cost. This practice eventually led to the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation.

— Your closest advisers don’t know you’re planning to do this!!?? You know they have lives, right? And you know that a campaign of national importance is going to suck the life out of anyone who gets involved in it, right? You’ve got to let people know you’re going to do stuff like this so they can wrap their brains around the fact that this is going to be draining. More important, you have to let them know this is your plan so they can tell you things like: “Uh, Alison. I didn’t think we were going to rise to national prominence, so I didn’t tell you earlier that the Salvadoran nanny we have on our payroll sort of snuck in across the border.”

Can it get worse?

Jeebus Cripes! Mitch already has a parody ad out. In fact, Mitch has a major ad dump on YouTube right now. Twenty videos. Including this one:

Why the hell is Mitch obsessing over toilet paper?

There better be a response ad out tomorrow. Something like:

Mitch McConnell is living up to his reputation as a politician who will take the low road at any cost to preserve his fiefdom in Washington. I intend to make this campaign about the needs of our state and the ways we can build a brighter future for all Kentuckians. We know Mitch is in the pockets of the banks and corporate overlords. Five terms are enough for a politician who’s lost touch with the needs and desires of the people he’s supposed to serve. 30 years is enough for the mouthpiece of fat cats and the one percenters. It’s time for a change.

Grimes’s announcement should have set the tone for the election. Instead Mitch has decreed that the election is going to wallow in the gutter.

UPDATE: The folks with Team Mitch are a bunch of a tricky suckers. They’ve rigged the YouTube URL so it will come up with a different ad as they update the page. So the anti-Grimes ad I had up earlier switched to a patriotic Fourth of July ad on July 4th. And the day before, it was an ad that basically criticized Grimes for the things I thought she did wrong (now attached above). Gotta keep an eye on these guys. Here’s the ever changing link:

Pollster looks at Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race

The latest polling figures out of Kentucky:

A new Public Policy Polling survey of Kentucky finds Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes tied in a hypothetical match up at 45%. McConnell’s early positive advertising has done nothing to improve his prospects for reelection and in fact this is the actually the weakest position PPP has found him in yet. In April we found him leading Grimes by 4 points and in December he had a 7 point advantage over her.
Key findings from the survey include:
-McConnell continues to be unpopular with 44% of voters approving of him to 47% who disapprove. His numbers are even worse with independents, only 41% of whom think he’s doing a good job while 53% give him poor marks. Grimes, on the other hand, has a positive 34/24 favorability rating.
-There are strong indications within the poll results that McConnell’s record on key issues will give him trouble getting reelected. 50% of voters say they’re less likely to cast their ballots for him because of his support for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, compared to only 23% who consider that a positive. And 48% say McConnell’s opposition to increasing the minimum wage makes them less likely to vote for him, while
just 27% say more likely.

I’d like to say this is encouraging, but …

Kentuckians elected Rand Paul to the Senate. Here the map of his 2010 race.

390px-Robertson_fix_Kentucky_Senatorial_Election_Results_by_County,_2010.svgThat’s a lot of red.

Once you set the bar that low, it doesn’t take much for a Republican to clear it. All McConnell has to say is “Kenyan usurper,” and he’ll lock up 47% of the vote at the start, not matter how much people in the state hate him.

And McConnell knows how to fight dirty. That’s worth another 5 percentage points right there. This poll seems very dubious.

Kids and guns: What could go wrong?

I needed to take some time to cool off before I posted this, because I really needed to think about keeping control when I saw this earlier this week.

By now, you know the story of the five-year-old Kentucky boy who shot his two-year-old sister to death with a rifle.

You know that the gun he used was given to him by his parents as a gift.

You know that the gun is a specially made child’s rifle. A Cricket. Blue for boys. The girls’ model, a Chipmunk, is pink.

And you know the kids’ parents are absolutely devastated, because, I mean, who would have thought that a five-year-old with a gun might be a dangerous thing?

Cumberland County Coroner Gary White said that the shooting was “just one of those crazy accidents.”

Uh … no. When a parent leaves a kid’s rifle next to a BB gun in full view, unguarded, the crazy thing is that a kid at play wouldn’t pick up a gun and shoot it.

And what the hell? Everything would have been cool if the kid picked up the BB gun and shot his sister with that?

“He just picked (the gun) up before he realized it,” grandmother Linda Riddle told WLEX.

Riddle said her granddaughter enjoyed singing and playing outdoors, and she loved her brother.

“It’s just tragic,” uncle David Mann told the CNN affiliate. “It’s something that you can’t prepare for.”

Riddle said she is devastated, but comforted knowing that her granddaughter is in a better place.

“It was God’s will. It was her time to go, I guess,” she told WLEX. “I just know she’s in heaven right now and I know she’s in good hands with the Lord.”

IT WAS GOD’S WILL? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT??!!

No. She’s not in a better place. She’s not in good hands.  She’s not going to sing anymore. She’s not going to play outdoors anymore. She’s not going to love her brother anymore. That little girl is DEAD. That means FOREVER!!! She’s dead because the “responsible adults” who were supposed to look out for their children and make sure they were safe thought it was a good idea to leave a loaded child’s rifle laying around for a five-year-old to pick up and put a bullet in his two-year-old sister’s chest.

Don’t you people get it?

Well, obviously not. I’m going to let the Courier-Journal pick it up from here:

But community and business leaders in Burkes­ville said they strongly support the couple and saw nothing unusual about giving a rifle to such a young child.

“Learning how to use a gun at a young age has been common for generations in rural Kentucky,” said County Judge-Executive John A. Phelps Jr.

He said it was a “mistake” to let the boy have access to the rifle, “but it was an accident.”

“These are good people, a normal, average Kentucky family who loved their children very much,” Phelps said.

Kathy Mosby, who runs Shapes Fitness Center in Burkesville, said the “whole community is behind the family,” while Terry Riley, general manager of Don Franklin Auto, a car dealer, said, what happened “can happen to any of us.”

OK, stop right there. No, it can’t “happen to any of us,” because most of us wouldn’t leave a loaded gun that looks like a toy in easy access for a five-year-old to pick up an play with. And that’s the thing. The boy was playing with the gun. That’s what kids do. But normal people let kids play with toy guns, not with real guns.

And what kind of sociopath makes guns especially designed for children?

The Crickett is a small, single-shot starter rifle made specifically for young shooters. It’s produced by Keystone Sporting Arms, a gunmaker that specializes in the manufacture of “quality firearms for America’s youth.” In addition to the Crickett, which is marketed with the tagline “My First Rifle,” Keystone Sporting Arms manufactures the Chipmunk rifle and Chipmunk accessories, though this product page reveals that they’ve discontinued the “Chipmunk 4 x 32 Scope.”

Well, gee, Wally! What more can you tell me about the Crickett?

Oh, for fuck’s sake!

When the psychopath went into the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and slaughtered 20 children and six adults, I really thought there was going to be a change in the way Americans looked at out gun culture. I honestly thought it couldn’t get any worse.

Now I’ve seen this Kentucky tragedy. And I see the family response. And I see the official response. And I see the community response. And I see the Crickett ad. And now, I can confirm one thing.

It’s worse.