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.


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.


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.


— 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.

McConnell vs. ProgressKY: A circus act

English: Official photo cropped of United Stat...

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kentucky Democrats need to get their act together if they’re going to beat Mitch McConnell in the 2014 U.S. Senate race. But based on this story in the Courier-Journal, as long as they have guys like this working for them, they’re sunk:

The Democratic official who implicated two Progress Kentucky members in the surreptitious recording of a Mitch McConnell campaign strategy meeting backed away from a key portion of his story Friday, saying he may have never talked to one of the men he accused.

In an interview with The Courier-Journal, Jacob Conway, a member of the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee, said he is certain he talked with Curtis Morrison about the recording — but he may not have spoken with Shawn Reilly as he told members of the media Thursday. …

… Conway changed his story after Ted Shouse, a lawyer for Reilly, said earlier Friday that Conway lied about Reilly’s role in the recording of the McConnell meeting that was leaked to Mother Jones magazine. …

… Shouse pointed out a 2005 criminal case in which Conway was accused of stealing money from the office safe at the Jefferson County attorney’s office while working as a clerk there, as well as from the Log Cabin Republicans, a national GOP group that advocates equality for gays and lesbians.

Conway entered an Alford plea in 2006 to felony theft by unlawful taking, meaning he did not admit guilt but agreed there was enough evidence to convict him. He was put on diversion and agreed to pay $2,800 to the county attorney’s office and $670 to the Log Cabin Republicans.

OK, how did Conway get on the Executive Committee if he stole money from these groups? What’s his affiliation with the Republicans anyway, since he somehow had access to their money? Is he a mole.

And this distraction focuses attention from what is a significant issue. Mitch McConnell and his staff saw that Ashley Judd was a possible opponent, so they planned to do a sleazy attack on her by questioning her mental health and they were planning to screw anyone who got in their way, including one of the state’s newspapers.

During the almost 12-minute recording, McConnell can be heard telling staffers that he will attack any political opponent who “sticks their head up” and added that there were plans to attack The Courier-Journal, whose editorial board has criticized him.

An unidentified male voice on the tape can be heard saying: “She’s clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it’s been documented. Jesse (Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager) can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she’s suffered some suicidal tendencies.”

McConnell’s campaign staff also talked about using Judd’s religious beliefs and residency issues against her, and they talked about political positions she has taken on issues, ranging from mountaintop removal to abortion.

Progress Kentucky, which is supposed to be supporting Democrats, is now accused of possibly illegal taping and a while back pulled a racist stunt by attacking McConnell’s wife because she’s Chinese.

According to Huffington Post:

While super PACs active in the 2012 elections were run by savvy political operatives raising millions from well-heeled contributors, Progress Kentucky is led by what one former state Democratic Party official described as “just a couple of activists” who are more intent on making a mockery of super PACs.

Progress Kentucky, created in December, has collected about $1,000 and spent $18, according to its latest filing with the Federal Election Commission. By contrast, McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, has raised a hefty $10 million toward his re-election effort, according to his FEC filing.

So Progress Kentucky is turning out to be a dangerous joke, the Democratic Executive Committee has a liar and thief on its payroll and Mitch McConnell is still the front runner in the 2014 election for the Senate.

The sleaze factor in this election has reached epic proportions. And we don’t even have a Democratic candidate yet.

The sequester: Blame the Republicans

The sequester — brought about by a Republican Party unwilling to raise taxes on the rich and willing to demand drastic cuts in social services — is officially underway.

Government services are being cut, government workers are facing furloughs and the still vulnerable national economy has run into a new landmine. This is important because it affects every one of us.

The Washington Post put together an elaborate graphic on the sequester’s impact on individual states, and make no mistake about it, your state is being hit.

The sequestration state impact chart is here.

In Kentucky alone, this means teachers are going to lose their jobs, the water and air are going to get dirtier, Head Start programs for early education are going to close, job-search assistance will be reduced, funding for Fort Campbell will be slashed, public health programs are going to be cut, victims of domestic violence won’t be able to get help, the elderly who get food assistance won’t be fed and children won’t be vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella and other diseases that can be prevented.

I single out Kentucky because it gave the country Mitch McConnell, who is in charge of Senate Republicans, and Sen. Rand Paul, a Tea Bagger poster boy whose sole purpose is to run though the corridors of the U.S. Capitol with scissors in his hand yelling “I’m gonna cut you.”

And if you want to know why this is bad for the country, read this:

Deep reductions in domestic and defense spending are set to begin Friday in a process known as sequestration, which will make progress toward the tea party’s goal of shrinking the government. What unfolds over the following months will be a high-stakes test of whether significant cuts in spending will help or hurt the economy — and the Republican Party’s brand.

The cuts, worth $1.2 trillion over 10 years, are slated to become reality after a period when the tea party — a movement, represented by a group of Republicans elected in 2010, whose goal is to radically cut the government — has struggled to have a lasting impact on Washington. …

… But many Republicans say the sequester is the moment when the tea party can claim it has made its mark. Although Democratic and Republican leaders are pointing fingers, the tea party and its allies are happily accepting credit for the cuts.

“This will be the first significant tea party victory in that we got what we set out to do in changing Washington,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), a tea party Republican elected in 2010.

The Tea Party — which is just a made up name for Republicans who don’t want to admit they supported George W. Bush (the Dumber) for eight years — wants this and is happy it is happening. The GOP — which collapsed the economy during the reign of the Dumber — now has its biggest victory of the Obama presidency.

When the economy gets hit (and the longer the cuts lasts, the harder it will get hit) here’s what’s going to happen. Republicans will blame Obama for the sequester.

In the words of Tea Bagger Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), “You lie!” This is the GOP’s fault. You’ll do yourself a favor by remembering that in the 2014 national elections.

This week in racism: Left behind

There were a couple of instances racism on the blogosphere recently that made folks on the left look just as bad as the bigots they consider themselves better than.

I’m not a fan of Mitch McConnell, the Republican senator from Kentucky (who, by the way, is a better senator than Rand Paul, the junior Tea Bagger from the state, will ever be, which isn’t saying much for the state I live in).

But an idiot volunteer at Progress Kentucky, an anti-McConnell super PAC, thought he or she was being clever by questioning whether Kentucky jobs were going to China because McConnell’s wife is Chinese.

chao-tweetThis is wrong. Jobs move to China because corporations don’t want to pay American wages. Elaine Chao was Labor secretary for President George Bush (the dumber). Maybe her job was to break unions during the Bush administration, which is what Republican presidencies live for, but her job wasn’t to send anyone’s job to China. So the tweet is stupid.

More important, especially in Kentucky, it is playing on racial antagonism. Given that McConnell is always vulnerable when he’s running for re-election, the fact that a supposedly liberal group is making him look sympathetic by attacking his wife for her race is a politically tactical error, but most important, it is flat-out wrong.

Look, if you want to take a cheap shot at McConnell, this is all you have to do:

imagesI mean, really, was that so hard?

Meanwhile, over at Wonkette, there’s a post about a tweet involving Michelle Malkin and ping pong balls that is pure racism, where:

the author hoped to insulate himself from charges of racism by saying it was humor and pinning it on Yr Wonkette, as a “classic Wonkette reference!”

So, Wonkette says:

So we got to apologize. Personally. To Michelle Fucking Malkin. WHICH IS NOT OUR FAVORITE THING EVER IN THE WORLD TO HAVE TO DO.

So. Let us take off our caps lock and have a discussion in a normal, not-at-all-screaming-at-you voice, about why this is not funny and is not cute and is not welcome at Yr Wonkette.

If you can’t figure out why it’s not funny and not cute, that’s your racism coming through, so go here to find out why.

It’s very simple people. If you’re going to go after conservatives, go after them on the merits. They give you so much material to work with. Don’t be racist pricks.

And don’t EVER make me have to defend people like Malkin and McConnell again.

Stupid is as stupid does: McConnell filibusters his own bill

Don’t dare someone to do something they’re willing to do. Just a suggestion:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced legislation to raise the debt ceiling on Thursday, apparently with the intent of showing that even Democrats would not support such a bill.

However, McConnell’s plan backfired after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called for a vote on the legislation, which would have given the president the authority to raise the federal debt ceiling on his own. The top Senate Republican was forced to filibuster his own bill.

“What we have here is a case of Republicans here in the Senate once again not taking ‘yes’ for an answer,” Reid said, after McConnell announced his filibuster. “This morning the Republican leader asked consent to have a vote on this proposal, just now I told everyone we were willing to have that vote — up or down vote. Now the Republican leader objects to his own idea. So I guess we have a filibuster of his own bill, so I object.”

And this is why the filibuster procedure has to be changed.

‘Lord of the Rings’ villain discusses rape

Another Republican candidate for the Senate — this one being “The Lord of the Rings” villain in his spare time — is focusing on rape:

Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock became the latest Republican to wander into eyebrow-raising territory when it came to the discussion of rape and abortion during a Senate debate Tuesday night.

Defending his stance that abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape, Mourdock explained that pregnancy resulting from nonconsensual sex is the will of God.

Of course, he says he was quoted out of context. Here’s the context, direct from his mouth in New Albany, Ind., just across the border from Louisville:

Unlike the Todd Akin bit of medical mystery, the GOP is rallying around Mourdock:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), who stumped for Mourdock on Monday, also said politics were behind the outrage.

“We’re at the end of an election season here and I understand each side is looking to make hay out of every comment,” McConnell said, “but sharing the view of millions of Americans that life begins at conception is Richard’s deeply held personal belief that shouldn’t be misconstrued by partisans to imply something it does not.”

Perhaps bolstered by the strong support from Republicans, Mourdock was defiant in a press conference Wednesday, attacking his opponents for “twisting” his words.

How directly quoting a person is the same as “twisting” his words is beyond me. But apparently there is a different language for the extreme right. Newt, do you want to take it from here?