Former UK Basketball Coach Joe B. Hall Endorses Alison Lundergan Grimes. Video Wednesday, Oct 29 2014 

Mitch McConnell And His ‘Chickenhawk’ Crooner Wednesday, Oct 29 2014 

Talk is cheap. Words to purportedly patriotic tunes can ring hollow too when they are sung by a guy who skipped military service in wartime yet bases his whole show biz persona on very public professions of love for God and country.
I mean Lee Greenwood. The country music star is famous for crooning “God Bless the U.S.A.” The tune was “voted the most recognizable patriotic song in America,” according to his website.

The Grammy Award-winning Greenwood, 72, sang his signature song at a free concert on behalf of the Mitch McConnell campaign Tuesday night on a farm near Murray. McConnell stood next to Greenwood as the popular recording artist belted out “God Bless the U.S.A.”
About 200 people, including First District U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, showed up.

McConnell and Greenwood (Whitfield, too) share hard right Republican politics with a God-and-country slant.
Greenwood, who likes to call himself “pro-military,” nonetheless stayed stateside on Civvy Street during Vietnam, the war of his youth. As a result, he is enshrined in The New Hampshire Gazette’s “Chickenhawk Hall of Shame” -- more on that dubious distinction in a minute.

Interestingly, while the senate majority leader wannabe had Greenwood in tow, Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who wants McConnell’s job, was campaigning with Cecil Roberts, international president of the United Mine Workers of America. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler joined them in Madisonville, about 88 miles northeast of Murray.

Roberts, who will turn 68 on Halloween, was a combat infantryman in Vietnam. He was in a mortar crew with the 196th Light Infantry Brigade of the 23rd “Americal” Division.

The last time this old reporter interviewed Roberts – it was a couple of years ago -- he had a message for uber-conservative, self-styled patriots who are cheerleaders for war but who avoided fighting in war: “Who is Sean Hannity to decide who is a patriotic American? Who is Rush Limbaugh? They were never in the service. Working-class people fight most of the wars. Working-class people, when called upon, they answer the call, whether it’s World War I, II, Korea, Vietnam, the Mideast.”

Greenwood was a father at age 17. That earned him a hardship deferment from the draft. He said he would have served if drafted.

But there was nothing to stop Greenwood from volunteering. A lot of other teenage dads have enlisted in America’s wars.
Even so, “the singer knows first-hand what it’s like to have loved ones fighting for the freedom of all Americans as his father served in the Navy & the Merchant Marine in World War II,” his website also says.

My 90-year-old dad is a Navy combat veteran of the Pacific Theater in World War II. But this 64-year-old non-veteran will leave the effusive patriotism to Greenwood and other “pro-military” non-veterans.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame Greenwood for using his 3-A deferment. I treasured my 2-S college student deferment.

I also chose to stay stateside out of uniform. I didn’t want anybody going to Vietnam. Call me unpatriotic if you will, but I saw the conflict as essentially a civil war between two anti-democratic regimes that wasn’t worth a drop of American blood.

I'd be embarrassed to make a career – and a pile of money – crooning about patriotism and sacrifice in war when I knew I had a chance to fight for those same values and chose to let others go in harm's way.

Oh, and the enemy soldiers Greenwood could have fought in Vietnam were Communists. Greenwood, a born-again Christian and free enterprise fellow, especially hates godless, collectivist Reds.
The Gazette doesn’t pull punches with Greenwood, claiming he preferred “lounging around in Vegas” and “the record racket” to combat in Vietnam. As a result, The Gazetteawarded him the “Chickenhawk First Class with Distinguished Fleeing Cross.”

The septuagenarian Greenwood reminds me of something the late Sen. George McGovern said: “I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.”

McGovern, a combat bomber pilot in World War II, ran for president in 1972 in opposition to the Vietnam War. The anti-war warrior got my vote, but he lost.

In any event, the Chickenhawk database includes a host of other long-in-the-tooth GOP bomb-our-foes-back-to-the-stone age conservatives who were Vietnam War no-shows. They include Dick Cheney, David Koch, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Mitt Romney and Ted Nugent. There are many more.

George W. Bush, Dan Quayle and other sons of wealthy and influential parents got in the National Guard to get out of Vietnam. That took pull. Guard and Reserve outfits were almost never sent to Vietnam, and we all knew it.

In any event, the whole Chickenhawk muster roll is at

The website explains, “When an American male (or an especially belligerent female) makes the challenging transition from late adolescence into early adulthood, he is faced with many decisions. One certain, specific combination of choices will result in his becoming a Chickenhawk: choosing to ‘support’ war, while also choosing not to serve in the military. His motto becomes: ‘Let’s you and him go fight; I’ll hold your coat.’”

The website also details the various Chickenhawk decorations:

• If there is no draft, and the nation is at peace, the individual becomes a Common Chickenhawk; (Hannity, et al.)
• If there is a draft, and the nation is at peace, the individual becomes a Chickenhawk First Class.
• If the there is a draft, and the nation is at war, the individual becomes a Chickenhawk First Class with Distinguished Fleeing Cross.

Anyway, I’m proud to be an American, too. But because I pack a union card, think government has an obligation to help people who need help, believe in strict separation of church and state and don’t consider “liberal” a dirty word, Greenwood might think I’m not. That’s fine by me.
I'm also grateful for our veterans, especially from World War II. Battle sites like Omaha and Utah Beaches and Bastogne – which I re-visited last summer – are hallowed ground to me.

My presidential choice going on 42 years ago volunteered for the Army Air Force shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and plunged America into the global conflict.
McGovern was a dad at war. His first child was born back home while he attacking heavily-defended Nazi targets in Europe in the “Dakota Queen,” a big, four-engine B-24 he named for his wife, Eleanor. He earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for his skill and courage at the controls of his warplane.

McGovern risked his life for his country, to many people the ultimate expression of patriotism. Yet he said "the highest patriotism" wasn't "a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one's country deep enough to call her to a higher standard."

I’ll add a Presbyterian “amen” to that.

Anyway, McConnell’s and Grimes’s choices of Greenwood and Roberts as campaign boosters seem like metaphors for their election bids.

McConnell is a union-despising, social Darwinist millionaire who is bankrolled by millionaires and billionaires. They expect him to do their bidding, and he never disappoints them.
A big chunk of McConnell's base are white folks of the Obama's-a-Kenyan-born-Sharia-Law-loving-Islamo-Socialist persuasion. So he enlisted their favorite singer. Doubtless, the concert goers whooped and hollered for Greenwood, who regularly campaigns for Republicans, including Romney in 2012. Greenwood has slammed President Obama “anti-American.” He tilts toward the tea party and the birthers.

On a Texas-based tea party radio talk show two years ago, he questioned Obama’s patriotism: “When he first took office, you’ll notice that if there were any patriotic salutes to the flag or the military, he never put his hand over his heart, which is tradition about loving your country, and never wore a flag on his lapel. I think that’s a must for a president.”

Greenwood also pandered, “There’s one more issue that has bothered me from the beginning…There are three things you have to be to be president. You have to be 35-years-old, a non-felon and born in this country. And the secrecy around his birth certificate from the very beginning made me so suspicious that whether it was right or wrong if he was born in Hawaii, I didn’t trust him any time after that.”

Greenwood insists he is a “blue collar” guy. But he gripes that business is regulated too much and that rich people are taxed too much. His buddy McConnell favors a national right to work law.
Grimes, on the other hand, invited a coal miner who is the son of a coal miner to campaign for her. Roberts doesn’t have to roll his own, but he’s not a millionaire.
I have heard Roberts, a Christian, fire up union crowds with powerful words. But I have never known him to say anything to imply that our side has cornered the market on patriotism or on religious truth.
“At what point in time did the Bible start belonging to the Republicans and the business folks?” he asked me. “At what point in time did patriotism?”

“Amen” again.

McConnell rats out Boehner for smoking in federal building, defends Iraq War Sunday, Oct 26 2014 

Speaking to a small audience in Boyle County, Kentucky in August, Senator Mitch McConnell ratted out House Majority Leader John Boehner for smoking in a federal building.

A video of the event was uploaded to the new Youtube channel proudly launched by the Boyle County Republican Party on August 27, 2014.
"My office is about 30 feet from Speaker Boehner. It's not hard to find if all you do is just follow the cigarette fumes," said McConnell. 
President Bill Clinton made smoking in federal buildings illegal with Executive Order 13058 in 1997. Here's the clip:

When asked to explain the deficit, McConnell wondered around a bit until he stumbled upon a defense of the Iraq war. Hear him say, "You could argue those conflicts needed to occur" at the (27:02).

Other highlights from the talk:
  2:52 mark: McConnell questions the intent of an audience member recording the event.
10:45 mark To better relate to rural voters, McConnell talks about fly-fishing in Scotland.
18:00 mark McConnell makes ludicrous claim "If I'm defeated, we (Republicans) won't be in the majority."
20:37 mark "They hashed all that out in Frankfort," McConnell said when taking credit for hemp legalization.
23:30 mark: A questioner refers to Grimes as "Obama girl." McConnell takes a swig of Pepsi One, suggests questioner ignore her ads.

McConnell will be the supporting act for Lee Greenwood at several concerts scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

(Another h/t to Jim Pence with Hillbilly Report for finding this first.)

Update 10/26/14: 11:47 pm EST :

If you're curious why the Boyle County Republican Party would be so foolish to upload a video embarrassing McConnell, Boehner, and the Republican Party, check out their tweets:

Variations on President Obama's name:

And perhaps the most contextually-awkward typo ever (That's not former Secretary Elaine Chao's middle name):

Busted! Senator Mitch McConnell’s Website Features Missouri Showboat, Not The Belle Of Louisville. Sunday, Oct 26 2014 

Update: 12:33 Pm EDST 10/26/2014 it appears that Senator Mitch McConnell has removed the Missouri Showboat image from his website. Thanks for reading the Hillbilly Report Senator McConnell.

The Louisville Courant
As the oldest steamboat still in operation, the Belle of Louisville is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
Nevertheless, Senator Mitch McConnell, also of Louisville, features what appears to be the Branson Belle front and center on his Senate website. Read more.

McConnell website features Missouri showboat, not Belle of Louisville Sunday, Oct 26 2014 

Screenshot from McConnell Senate website, 10/26/14 3 am EST
As the oldest steamboat still in operation, the Belle of Louisville is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

Nevertheless, Senator Mitch McConnell, also of Louisville, features what appears to be the Branson Belle front and center on his Senate website.

The Branson Belle is not even a steamboat, but a diesel-powered showboat with an electric paddlewheel that floats around on a landlocked lake, in Missouri.
Magnified from that screenshot

This particular affront to Kentucky is especially
peculiar because McConnell got his start in politics as an aide to Senator Marlow Cook. In his capacity as Jefferson County Judge Executive, Cook purchased the Belle for $34,000 at a 1962 auction. Fifteen years later McConnell would be elected to serve in that same position, and oversee the fiscal operation of the Belle of Louisville.

McConnell knows what the Belle looks like, he's been in charge of her.
Branson Belle (wiki)

Let's put this in context. McConnell's Facebook page used a Russian field as the cover photo, a Denmark hunter shooting a duck to promote the NRA, and one of his first campaign commercials had a Duke player making a slam dunk. At what point will it be fair to ask whether this man knows how to use the internet?

While the Branson Belle was built in 1994, the Belle of Louisville turned 100 this month. Happy Birthday, ole girl!
Belle of Louisville (Screenshot from wiki where uploaded by Sylfred1977)
10/26/14 2:23 pm EST Update:

The Branson Belle pic is on a rotation on the McConnell website. I've never seen this horse barn below, but to be fair it's probably in France.

Screenshot 10/26/14 2:23 pm EST
(Note: An earlier update suggested that McConnell had replaced the Branson Belle with the horse barn, and that was a mistake.)

10/26/14 7:42 pm EST Update:

Ensuing outrage from Twitter:

And from Facebook:

Mum’s The Word From Mitch McConnell On Social Security, But We Know He Wants To Privatize It. Saturday, Oct 25 2014 

Reporters are still bird-dogging Sen. Mitch McConnell over a story in The Hill that said his campaign offered to pay volunteers to help boost “an enthusiastic atmosphere” at his campaign rallies.

The other day, Louisville’s WAVE TV ran a news story featuring McConnell’s response to the continuing controversy. Predictably, the senate majority leader wannabe tried to fluff it all off.
But what got my attention was how the WAVE story ended: “McConnell also faced a question…about whether if he became majority leader he would push legislation to offer privatized accounts for Social Security. McConnell said he wasn’t going to say what his agenda would be” [Italics mine].

Alison Lundergan Grimes is this union card-carrying, 63-year-old Social Security recipient’s candidate.

Yet if I were a retiree on the fence wavering between Team Mitch and Team Switch, I’d give what McConnell said – or, rather didn’t say – some serious, if not prayerful, consideration before I voted a week from Tuesday.
In any event, this lifelong Kentuckian and out-to-pasture community college teacher is grateful to be getting Social Security. I want Uncle Sam to keep running the program.

Right-wing scare tactics about Social Security going broke are baloney. They are calculated to undermine public confidence in one of the best federal programs, thus helping pave the way for Republicans like McConnell to privatize Social Security.

I don’t want my Social Security turned over to private businesses whose main goal is turning a fat profit for their owners and stockholders. A privatized program would also be subject to the vagaries of the stock market.
Of course, right-wing Republicans have been trying to deep six Social Security since Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a New Deal Democratic congress enacted it in 1935.

McConnell doesn’t have to worry about making ends meet after he retires. He’s a millionaire.

Almost every other conservative critic of Social Security is as well-heeled as McConnell, or even richer. Like McConnell, those plutocrats will still be living on Easy Street, too.
Up and down the campaign trail, Grimes has repeatedly promised to oppose Social Security privatization.
Meanwhile, Team Mitch would rather the media get back on Grimes for not telling us who she voted for in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.
I voted for Obama both times. I don’t care who Grimes voted for. It doesn’t affect my future.

What happens to Social Security does, big-time. So I care a lot that that mum’s the word from Mitch about the program’s status if he ends up ramrodding the Senate.

Anyway, McConnell evidently clammed up about Social Security during a session with reporters after he gave a speech to the Republican-leaning Rotary Club in Louisville, his hometown. That’s when he tried to dismiss the cheerleader hiring flap as much ado about nothing.

Joe Sonka, my favorite Bluegrass State blogger, was there. He might have been the reporter who asked McConnell the question cited in the WAVE story.

McConnell knew the Rotary Club was friendly turf. “Though he hasn’t mentioned it much on the campaign trail over the past year, McConnell specifically touted his effort to push President George W. Bush’s plans to reform Social Security in 2005, which would have set up private accounts for retirees,” Sonka wrote for Insider Louisville online.

Sonka quoted the captain of Team Mitch: “After Bush was re-elected in 2004 he wanted us to try to fix Social Security. I spent a year trying to get any Democrat in the Senate — even the most reasonable Democrat of all, Joe Lieberman – to help us.”

By the “most reasonable Democrat” McConnell meant “the Democrat who most often agrees with me.”

Sonka added: “Bush’s reform plan stalled out, as it polled terribly and Republicans chose not to pursue it. Democrats at the time painted private accounts as a risky scheme that would endanger seniors’ retirement security in the wake of a downturn in the market, make the Social Security program less solvent, and lead to benefit cuts.”

Commercial nails McConnell on certain ‘unfair advantage’ Friday, Oct 24 2014 

Screenshot: "Be considerate and think before sharing."
Two weeks ago, Alison Lundergan Grimes' campaign began airing a commercial that was not publicly searchable on its Youtube channel. Now the Senate Majority PAC is doing the same.

Unlike Grimes ad that annoyed her base because it was downright hateful to immigrants, the Senate Majority PAC's ad looks pretty good. Why is it not publicly searchable on Youtube?  Would a modest show of transparency hurt that much?

In Other News… Grimes/McConnell, fairness in Berea, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, and Lawrence buys a house Friday, Oct 24 2014 

Bill Clinton and Alison Lundergan GrimesAnd We Have Ourselves a Ball Game: Last week, I reported that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pulled its dollars out of Kentucky, leaving Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes alone to take on Republican incumbent senator, Mitch McConnell. I didn’t … Continue reading

The “Big Dog” Bill Clinton Exposes Mitch McConnell. Senator No’s Con Job. Friday, Oct 24 2014 

Former president Bill Clinton, stumping for Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in Paducah, revealed his version of how Sen. Mitch McConnell is trying to con voters by tying her to President Barack Obama.

“Now here’s what the real message is,” Clinton told about 1,800 Grimes partisans who jammed the McCracken County High School gym.
Grinning broadly and standing before a huge American flag reminiscent of the opening scene from the movie Patton, he pretended to be the senate majority leader wannabe: “I know you don’t like the president.
“This is your last chance to vote against him because he’s gonna be gone in two years and you know you want to pop him one more time.
“You know you do.”

The Big Dog paused to let the laughter and applause subside.
Then he started act two as Sen. No: “Now you know the price for this is giving me a six-year job and I vote against you for six whole years. It’s a very high price…for your two-year protest, but you’ve got to do it.

“I know I can get you where you can’t think any more. I know I can get you where the foam comes out of our mouth and the steam comes out of your ears.”

More mirth rattled the rafters. “We’re all laughing but its true isn’t it?”

Clinton had set up the crowd by musing, “It’s been my experience that if somebody tries to get you to stop thinking, they do not have your best interests at heart.”
Clinton said McConnell “wants to make this about who voted for whom in 2012 even though he knows if you vote on how they’re going to vote for the next six years you will elect her and by a very healthy margin.”

Night had fallen. Clinton had spent a crisp, clear autumn day barnstorming with Grimes across western Kentucky.
Many in the Paducah crowd pack union cards. Kentucky’s secretary of state, Grimes won the Kentucky State AFL-CIO’s endorsement last year.
Clinton, who carried Kentucky in 1992 and 1996 -- and made campaign stops in Paducah both times -- had appeared with his candidate at an afternoon rally in Owensboro that drew an estimated 3,000 people.
Many in the Paducah crowd had voted for Clinton and for Obama. Based on campaign buttons stuck on shirts, jackets and blouses many plan to vote for Hillary Clinton should she decided to run for president in two years.
“What’s Mitch McConnell done for us the last 30 years? Zero,” said Pete Howell, a retired member of United Steelworkers Local 665.

“Mitch is always talking about what he’s done,” said Glenn Dowdy, a former president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council.
“But what he hasn’t done is more important – he hasn’t helped working families. He hasn’t helped anyone but himself.”

Throughout her remarks, Grimes repeatedly urged the crowd to “stand up, fight back!” The refrain sounded familiar to Larry Sanderson, a retired UA international representative.

Ten days before, he organized a “Stand up and fight back against the Republican War on Labor 2014” union rally in Paducah.
Sanderson wanted to boost support for a quintet of local labor-endorsed Democratic candidates for the Kentucky legislature, including State Reps. Gerald Watkins of Paducah and Will Coursey of Symsonia, House hopefuls Jesse Wright of Mayfield and Jarrod Jackson of Princeton plus Jeff Parker of Paducah who is running for the state Senate.

Grimes came to that rally, too, and spoke to an assemblage of about 3,500 union members, their families and labor backers.
Sanderson beamed at the chorusing. “We need to elect Alison,” he said. “But we also need to elect our candidates for the legislature.”
Republicans, who have a right to work majority in the Senate, promise to pass a right to work law if they gain control of the Democratic-majority House on Nov. 4, election day.

The gym was Team Switch’s house. Grimes signs and union banners hung from walls and railings. Many in the crowd waved a variety of Grimes-for-senate signs.

Clinton referred to the union banners. Grimes acknowledged her union support.
She said the election is “about whether Kentucky will stand up and fight back against a senator who has literally become rich Mitch on the backs of Kentuckians -- increasing his pay each and every year while voting to keep Kentucky poor.
“Seventeen times he has voted no to increasing the minimum wage. Will you stand up and fight back? Say yes!”

The crowd replied loudly in the affirmative.

“Will you stand up and fight back against a senator who says the women of this nation don’t deserve equal pay for equal work...are we ready for a senator that says 76 cents on every dollar is not acceptable? Let me hear you say yes!”

The throng again chorused on cue.
“Stand up and fight back against a senator who has made it his mission to enact, not just in Kentucky but nationwide, right to work for less legislation,” Grimes urged.

“You and I both know it doesn’t increase wages. It doesn’t grow the middle class. Will we stand up and fight back for a senator that knows labor has lifted millions out of poverty?”

“Yes!” came the reply.

Grimes said McConnell “has tried to buy us out. He’s tried to bully us and he’s trying to bruise us. But we won’t back up.
“We will stand up and fight back and together, Kentucky. We won’t just live history. We will make it on November fourth.”

Diana Yancey wants to help Grimes be a history maker. Grimes would be the Bluegrass State’s first woman senator.
“But Alison stands up for men and women,” said Yancey, a former staff representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Paducah grade school teacher and Kentucky Education Association member Natalie Krupansky agreed. “She will change things for the better.”
“I’m for Grimes because I don’t want right to work here in Kentucky,” said McCracken countian John Morris, a member of USW Local 7-669 in nearby Metropolis, Ill., where his union has been locked out for months at the Honeywell Corp. nuclear processing plant.

Former Kentucky labor secretary J.R. Gray said McConnell is a do-nothing senator. “Alison Lundergan Grimes represents fresh new ideas, especially for working people.

”She wants to put people back to work. She supports a living wage, not just a minimum wage.”

Hardy Williams, who is retired from Machinists Local Lodge 1294, didn’t mince words about why he’s for Grimes. “He’s a Republican and she’s a Democrat. It’s that simple.”

Five big-name Democrats spoke on Grimes’s behalf: Gov. Steve Beshear, a pair of former governors – Julian Carroll and Martha Layne Collins -- Kentucky Attorney Gen. Jack Conway and state Auditor Adam Edelen, who doubled as emcee.

A surprise supporter showed up from California -- Jon “Bowzer” Bauman, the movie and TV star, musician and game show host.

Mitch McConnell Pays Folks To Attend His Events! Thursday, Oct 23 2014 


The Hill
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined comment on the news that he's offering all-expenses-paid trips for volunteers to provide "enthusiasm" during stops on his bus tour.

"I'm not sure I know what to say about that," he told CBS affiliate WVNS, directing the reporter to campaign adviser Josh Holmes.

The Hill reported this week that a Kentucky Republican Party operative emailed supporters in early October offering all-expenses-paid trips to join the senator's tour and "contribute to an enthusiastic atmosphere" at events.

Holmes previously told The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., that the volunteers were working during the tour and it was "standard practice" to pay expenses for such volunteers. Read more.


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