KY Treasurer Todd Hollenbach tells Bloomberg how Sen. McConnell beat his dad, and why he takes out his own trash Monday, Sep 15 2014 

bloomberg-logoBloomberg recently ran a Q&A with Kentucky State Treasurer, and Louisville native, Todd Hollenbach. The piece gave an interesting snapshot of a man whose political principles were forged in the crucible of a family defeat to Sen. Mitch McConnell. One … Continue reading

Mitch McConnell’s Mum Moment Monday, Sep 15 2014 

“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.
McConnell was one of Cooper’s interns.
Fink’s boss, Charles Koch was a Bircher, like his daddy, according to The Progressive magazine’s Lisa Graves. Fred Birch’s kid lent his name and his dough to Birch Society doings in in Wichita, Kans., and helped “its ‘American Opinion’ bookstore -- which was stocked with attacks on the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, and Earl Warren as elements of the communist conspiracy. He funded the John Birch Society's promotional campaigns, bought advertising in its magazine, and supported its distribution of right-wing radio shows.”

Added Graves: “The echoes of his past role reverberate along with the millions he and his brother David Koch have spent fueling a John Birch Society-like ‘Tea Party’ peopled with right-wingers like Birchers of decades past who contend against all reasoning that the president is a communist. David Koch himself has claimed President Obama is a scary ‘socialist.’ These roots run deep in the Kochs.”

The Birchers also claimed Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a “tool of the Communists” and that fluoridated drinking water was part of the commie plot to take over the country.
Bircher baloney was too much even for William F. Buckley, Jr. editor of the National Review. The Yale grad entreated the GOP to distance itself from the wackos.

In his Yale address, Cooper opined that the Birch Society appealed to some ultra-conservatives because it offered them, “some kind of escape, however irrational,” the Associated Press reported.
The Birchers are still around. But they’ve been eclipsed by the Tea Party and like-mined white folks of the Obama’s-a-Kenyan-born-Islamo-Socialist-who-is-sneaking-100-million Muslims-into-America-to-help-him-take-over-the-country persuasion.
Cooper wanted no part of the Birchers and their conspiratorial claptrap. When I was a kid, neither did most country club Republicans in my western Kentucky hometown. They made fun of the Birchers.

Anyway, when an Eli quizzed Cooper about a “silent partnership” between the Birch Society and the GOP, the senator said he knew of only one Republican member of Congress who was a Bircher, according to the AP.

The current Congress has a boisterous Tea Party Caucus.

Cooper said the kind of conservatism represented by Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., “does not meet the needs and issues of the day.” A headline writer at The Daily Beast, called Goldwater “the true father of the Tea Party.”

Cooper said he and Goldwater disagreed over a number of issues, the AP also reported.  “Cooper said Goldwater, for example, had announced himself as being for the U.S. constitution ‘as written,’ and not as interpreted by the Supreme Court in recent years.” The Kentuckian apparently was referring to Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 high court ruling that outlawed segregated schools. (The Birchers detested Chief Justice Warren, a Republican, and started an “Impeach Earl Warren” petition drive.)

Cooper conceded that Goldwater’s ultra-conservatism might play well with Southern whites. But he declared, “this has not and should not be the position of the Republican Party.” Cooper said federal civil rights programs “are an aspect of freedom” and without them the constitutional guarantees of equality become almost meaningless for blacks, according to the AP.
Two years after Cooper’s speech, Goldwater ran for president in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and in favor of “states’ rights,” the old Southern code word for slavery and for Jim Crow laws that kept blacks separate and unequal from whites and prevented African Americans from voting.
Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson drubbed Goldwater. Nonetheless, Goldwater carried Arizona and cracked the white supremacist Democratic Solid South by pocketing a quintet of ex-Confederate states.

In the 1960s, a number of moderate and liberal northern and western Republicans joined LBJ, a Texan, and Democrats mostly from the north, west and border states in championing the Civil Rights Act and other landmark civil rights legislation aimed at ending Jim Crow race discrimination.

Afterwards, the old party of Lincoln and Liberty veered sharply rightward and adopted the “Southern Strategy,” a calculated effort to woo white Southern Democrats who hated to see Jim Crow go.

The Democratic Solid South crumbled to dust. The white South turned Republican Red.
Anyway, Fink’s fulmination was, of course, preposterous at face value. Raising the U.S. minimum wage has nothing to with fascism and communism, which are opposing foreign ideologies.

Benito Mussolini became the Fascist dictator of Italy in the 1920s. Mussolini’s pal Adolf Hitler became the Nazi dictator of Germany in the 1930s. They hated communists.

Lenin, Stalin and Mao were communists who hated fascism, though one could make a good case that Russia’s current strongman ruler, Vladimir Putin, exhibits fascist, if not czarist, tendencies.

McConnell knows Frank’s comments were idiotic. But he zipped his lip because he is keenly aware that the same asinine sentiments thump in Tea Party hearts and are scrawled on their loopy signs. He desperately wants the Tea Party to play on Team Mitch.
On the other hand, Cooper stood up to the Birchers, the practitioners of what historian Richard Hofstadter in 1964 called “the paranoid style in American politics.” The Goldwater movement was his Exhibit A. The Tea Party would make a great Exhibit B.
Wrote Hofstadter: “I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind….The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms….The paranoid is a militant leader. He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician.”

He added:  “Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated—if not from the world, at least from the theatre of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention….The enemy is clearly delineated: he is a perfect model of malice, a kind of amoral superman—sinister, ubiquitous, powerful, cruel, sensual, luxury-loving.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid challenged McConnell to repudiate what Fink said. “But when The Undercurrent's Lauren Windsor asked McConnell about it directly, he had no response beyond a slight head shake,” Clawson wrote.
She concluded, “So I guess we can put Mitch McConnell down as tacitly onboard with the view that raising the minimum wage is like Hitler. Which is a pretty radical view considering that in poll after poll, strong majorities of Americans support a higher minimum wage.”

Polls show even most people in Red State Kentucky want the minimum wage raised. Even so, the “radical view” of Richard Fink seems a mainstream view in the Tea Party-tilting GOP of John Sherman Cooper’s former intern.

Rand Paul, Ron Paul, Mitch McConnell, Dimitri Kesari, Jesse Benton. The Lone Star Bluegrass Mafia? Tuesday, Sep 9 2014 

Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive.
- Sir Walter Scott (Marmion, 1808)

A tangled web indeed.

Dimitri Kesari, is currently in the middle of a 2012 Iowa payola scandal. He was deputy campaign manager for Ron Paul at the time and worked for Jesse Benton. Ron Paul’s campaign manager.

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.

So what is the Young Americans for Liberty? It’s a group that’s headed by Jeff Frazee, Ron Paul’s former National Youth Coordinator and was funded with $25,000 in seed money from Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty.

In 2012 Jesse Benton served as Ron Paul’s campaign chairman and Dimitri Kesari served as deputy campaign manager for the Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaign. It was during this time that Dimitri Kesari allegedly gave Kent Sorenson’s wife a $25,000 check dated December 26, 2012 to switch his, Kent Sorenson’s, allegiance from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul. In other words, a bribe.

Fast forward to September 2012. Senator Mitch McConnell hires Jesse Benton as his 2014 campaign manager and in 2013 Dimitri Kesari’s Hyllus Corp. gets hired by the McConnell campaign and is paid about $73,000. A McConnell spokesperson said Hyllus was "contracted to consult and work on a specific field project involving initial field organization, regional mapping, voter history research, walk maps and voter canvass technology testing."

August 2013 the Kent Sorenson, Dimitri Kesari and Jesse Benton Iowa bribe scandal story breaks and Jesse Benton stays on as Senator Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager until August 2014, when he resigns.

Senator Mitch McConnell has refused to answer questions about Dimitri Kesari and/or Jesse Benton and I can’t say that I blame him. Maybe the FBI will have better luck when they ask him.

So there you go. The Lone Star Bluegrass Mafia.

Senator Mitch McConnell Praised Ex Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell In 2010. Thursday, Sep 4 2014 


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.

A polling consensus emerges: McConnell has a small but significant lead over Grimes with 60 days to go Thursday, Sep 4 2014 

McConnell GrimesCNN released a poll yesterday on Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race that appears to confirm what other polling firms have found over the past month: Mitch McConnell has a small but significant lead over Alison Lundergan Grimes. Just as Public Policy Polling … Continue reading

FBI interviewed Mitch McConnell / Rand Paul insider in June 2013 Wednesday, Sep 3 2014 

Jonathan Duke, an insider with both the Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul campaigns, was interviewed by the FBI on June 19, 2013. If a November 5, 2013 blog entry on Page One Kentucky is to be trusted at face value, Duke bragged to blogger Jake Payne that he was being interviewed by the FBI, and even texted Payne as he left the interview. 

Duke is a former State Director for the Republican National Committee, a hardcore supporter of Sen. Mitch McConnell, and Event Chair of Rand Paul's Victory Committee. 

On Page One Kentucky, Payne wrote:

"Guess which host on this list was interviewed by the FBI for communicating with the Progress Kentucky nitwits regarding the location of Mitch McConnell’s private campaign meeting on February 2"
As one of the "nitwits" Payne was referring to, I did not need either of his clues to identify his source. I knew who I communicated with that morning. Let's come back to that.

Because blogging is distinguished from journalism in that there are no rules, Payne offered his viewers two clues on his source's identity. Fascinatingly, the first clue identifies Duke as an "Event Chair" of Rand Paul's Victory Committee.

Payne's clue #1
The second clue suggests the FBI interview occurred on June 19, 2013, and that Duke, if these messages are indeed from him, intended to call Payne about twenty minutes after he left the interview. 

Payne's Clue #2
Okay, a little background is neccesary. I had tweeted @KyJDDuke on February 2, 2013 about the location of the McConnell HQ. Another source had told me when McConnell was launching his Louisville campaign HQ, but that source had not yet told me where the HQ was when I tweeted Duke. I tweeted Duke to see if I could trick him into revealing the location of the party. Hostile I know, but fun. Duke joked back about how it was "invitation only." (Like I didn't know that already.)

I wasn't the only the only Louisville 'journalist' who knew Duke was at McConnell's party. WFPL's Phillip M. Bailey, who later co-broke the story revealing my identity as David Corn's source for the secret recording, posted vocal support for Duke the same morning I made the recording:

Insider Louisville's Joe Sonka quoted Duke in an April 2013 LEO Weekly story about Charah, Inc. (I have also written about Charah, Inc. on this blog.)

When the FBI made arrangements to interview Duke in November, he jumped the shark, presuming the FBI wanted to talk to him about tweets, and so he tipped off Payne he was headed to meet with the FBI to talk about me and/or Progress Kentucky. Presumably after FBI left the interview, Payne added these lines to his blog entry:
"Spoiler alert: they didn’t know anything about Reilly."
"We plan to cover the mess quite a bit more in the weeks to come."
Payne's plans to "cover the mess never quite a bit more" never materialized. Duke went on support McConnell through the primary:
My first introduction to Duke was when he was working to ridiculing Ashley Judd by sexualizing her. Oh wait, I have a screenshot:

(This Tweet was deleted the first time I published it.)

Here's Duke's Linked In indicating his former role at Kentucky's RNC state director:

In the context of the breaking news that two former McConnell campaign operatives, Jesse Benton and Dimitri Kesari, are subjects in an FBI bribery investigation, Duke's interview probably was not about his tweets with me, but about Benton, Kesari, McConnell or Paul. Let that sink in.

The million dollar questions in the bribery scandal are of course, what did McConnell know, and when did he know it? But since McConnell's unlikely to entertain those questions, here are a few more: What did Duke know? Did he tell the FBI? Did he tell McConnell what the FBI asked him about? 

9/4/14 5:47 pm Update:
While Duke may be ignoring the dozens of tweets tagging him in relation to the McConnell campaign's bribery scandal, that's not to say his head is completely in the sand. He's watching, and like McConnell, hoping this all goes away. Not going to happen, bro.

Former Lexington Mayor Teresa Isaac, not afraid Mitch McConnell Tuesday, Sep 2 2014 

Those are just a few of her recent tweets. Compare with the zero times you've recently heard former Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson speak out against McConnell.

I saw Isaac moderate a 2009 Kentucky for Human Rights Panel, but I've never met her. If you're on twitter, give her some retweets, favorites and such.

Mitch McConnell’s Allison Moore Hangs Up Phone On Reporters When Asked About Jesse Benton Scandal! Tuesday, Sep 2 2014 

Senator Mitch McConnell Spent Father’s Day With The Koch Brothers! Tuesday, Sep 2 2014 

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.

Family values?

AUDIO: Mitch McConnell was psyched about modeling Ron Paul’s campaign Sunday, Aug 31 2014 

Senator Mitch McConnell was psyched about modeling his re-election campaign after Ron Paul's presidential campaign. From. Day. One. Immediately following the launch party of his campaign's Louisville headquarters on February 2, 2013, McConnell met with his (now former) campaign manager Jesse R. Benton, and others to discuss campaign strategy. 

Part of that strategy included adopting techniques Benton had used as manager of Paul's presidential campaign. Here's a never-before-released clip capturing a few moments of McConnell discussing that integration:

David Corn with Mother Jones previously published the majority of the audio I recorded that day, including the opposition research portion of the meeting where McConnell giddily declared his campaign was in the "Whac-A-Mole"-stage. Mother Jones chose a sensible crop of the most audible and relevant segment of the recording, at that time.

But since then, an August 27, 2014 FBI press release announced the guilty plea of former Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson involving a bribery scandal carried out by Ron Paul's presidential campaign. Benton's subsequent resignation related to the fall-out from that scandal makes McConnell's enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, Ron Paul's campaign strategies extremely relevant. 

So now we know McConnell's campaign was patterned after Ron Paul's, McConnell cannot escape answering questions not only about Benton, but also about his own senate campaign structured in the image of Ron Paul's.

David M. F. Schankula has outlined many relevant questions on, but these are suddenly the most relevant:

Have any groups that have endorsed Mitch McConnell been paid to join Team Mitch? 
Have any individuals, be they lawmakers or grassroots organizers, been paid for their endorsement of Mitch McConnell? 
Has any person been offered money by the McConnell campaign or its associates to endorse the McConnell campaign during the run-up to the Republican Primary?

On a scale of 1 to 10, how certain is Mitch McConnell that none of his endorsers have been bribed or illegally incentivized to join his team?
Finally, you have to admit this audio, like McConnell's entire campaign, has comic value. 

From accepting contributions from an 88 year-old descendant of a slave-owning Confederate Colonel that exceeding the legal limit by $2,500, to robocalling Democrats during the primary to warn them Obama was coming for their guns, to using stock photos of Russian fields, to trying to cover up their use of a clip of Duke playing basketball in a commercial, to threatening to have reporter Joe Sonka arrested, to barring blogger Jim Pence from a public meeting, to bragging about crafting the fiscal cliff deal that included $500 million of subsidies to pharmaceutical corporations like Amgen represented by his former Chief of Staff, to finally Friday having a McConnell spokesperson "hang up" on a WAVE 3 reporter. I could go on. His whole campaign has been a joke.

Benton once told WFPL's Phillip M. Bailey that McConnell had "set a goal of running the best statewide campaign in the history of United States American politics." The only thing funnier than the phrase "United States American politics" is just how far McConnell missed the mark on achieving that goal. 

Update 8/31/14 7:42 PM EST

Breaking...Secretary Alison Lundergan Grimes agrees her opponent needs to answer these questions:

Update 9/1/14 1:20 AM EST

Instead of asking the people who endorsed McConnell if they were incentivized to do so, the Herald-Leader's Sam Youngman has written a nothing-to-see-here piece concluding Benton's alleged involvement with a bribery scandal is more of a Rand Paul problem.

To reach this sensational conclusion, Youngman had to omit that it was McConnell's plan to model Ron Paul's presidential campaign (see above) and any mention of Dimitri Kesari, the other former McConnell consultant who has been alleged to have been the bribe money delivery boy. 

Further, Youngman failed to mention in his setup that McConnell was recorded also complaining about the student loan package's potential harm to the Koch's. 

Update 9/1/14 8:28 PM EST/  Reactions from Kentucky voters:

Update 9/2/14 Turns out Grimes really wants to win this, and knows how to do it.

Next Page »