That time Elaine Chao, James S.C. Chao appeared together on a game show Saturday, Aug 16 2014 

Former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and her father Captain James S.C. Chao, were guests on a Chinese game show in November of 2013. What is amazing about the appearance, is that Sec. Chao spoke freely about her political career, as well as her marriage to Senator McConnell. For example, did you know Mitch McConnell did his own laundry? You do now. Enjoy:

Right after the 8 minute mark, Chao explains how she went to work for President Ronald Reagan  to represent Citigroup in the White House. No seriously. In her own words:
"And then when I was in the middle of working for Citigroup after four years, I had the opportunity, uh, to work at the White House, because Citigroup has a special program. They selected outstanding performers within the bank and gave them an opportunity to support them for a stint in the government."
I took the liberty of transcribing most of Chao's 13 minute talk, from when she first talks about her husband to when she introduces her father. We really get to know her. Warning.While is it apparent throughout her talk that Chao is in denial of her own privilege, she kind of really grows on you. Not unlike Claire Underwood. I mean, you'll see what I mean. Consider yourself warned:
"He's a very good husband. He does his own laundry. He cooks. He helps me with the house, too. He's very encouraging of women. And I think it's really important to find someone who is going to be your life partner, because they will help you adapt to your life. And they will help you adapt to your career as well. And so in 1996, I wanted to have a break, so I joined a think tank where I took some time to study and learn more about the American political system. How to get ideas across. Because America is a very confrontational society. You know, people are arguing all the time. So some people are saying this, some people are saying that. And its okay.So there's a lot of fighting back and forth.
 And then in 2000, (George) W. Bush was getting rid for his presidential bid, and I had known him before because I had campaigned with his, with him, for his father. And I've known him because he's also from Harvard Business School. Um, President George Bush is class of 1971, I was class of 1979.* So we know each other from that as well.
And you'll be interested to know  I actually was supposed to get, I thought, the Department of Transportation. But...Norm Mineta got the Department of Transportation. And so, I was very disappointed. And I think it tells you a lesson in that if your faced with disappointment, number one, you must always think of the long term. So even if it can be a disappointment, don't be discouraged. If you handle the disappointment well, there will be lots of other opportunities. And so indeed I was originally um not offered but indicated that Secretary of Trans...Labor was the position they wanted for me and I wasn't really very familiar um with labor as much as I was familiar with transportation. So I was hoping to be appointed to transportation. But when that did not happen, I was very calm. I thanked the president and his team for considering me. I wished them well in their new administration, thinking I was not going to be a part of it.
And then two weeks afterwards, the president's nominee for the Secretary of Labor position (Linda Chavez)** encountered difficulties in her confirmation hearing. In the United States, the president proposes a Secretary, and then the Congress, the Senate, approves. So the original choice for the Secretary of Labor encountered difficulties in her confirmation process and she had to drop out. So they the White House and the President needed to find a new Secretary of Labor., Someone they trusted. Someone who they know can clear and gain the approval of the Senate, who had no blemish on their record so they can go through the confirmation process very easily, and so they approached me again and asked if I'd be interested in applying, in accepting the position of Secretary of Labor. So that was how I became the Secretary of Labor. So I wasn't the first choice."
"But I think life is so interesting. It's hard to plan every little step. You must plan, but you can't plan every little step. And it's very very hard to um know all the opportunities. So I think the ability to have a good attitude, the ability to always be confident, to be optimistic, and to look ahead, is very important. So when I talk about my career. You know each of the steps, it's very interesting. But I never planned for it. It just happened. Because I was hard-working. I was always trying to do more than what was asked of me, and people noticed. So when the opportunities came, my name always came to the surface, always came to the top. So I think the most important thing is it's important to plan, but you can't plan every step. The most important thing is you have to have inner confidence, that you really like what you're doing. You're interested. So when I first entered Washington, I was interested. I was motivated. I wanted to find out what makes America run. I'm an immigrant to America. I didn't understand the government so that is why I wanted to enter the government. I wanted to see how does the American government work?
And I got in. And then once I got in, one door opened. I went in. And another door opened. I went in there. And another door opened. None of these doors I could have known about from the very beginning because my world at that time was so small. And there were so few Asian-Americans in the government at that time. That there was no guide. No one to tell me what to expect. But what I did find helpful, and this again is what my parents taught me. Is you have to have courage, and interest, and curiosity. I think if there's one thing that my parents taught me a great deal of, it's curiosity. You have to have interest. You have to have curiosity. And if you're curious, you will go on and seek more doors and more open. And these doors will open if you have persistence, if you plan ahead, and if you have the will to proceed. The world is changing so rapidly, so you'll have the same kind of opportunities as well. There's so many opportunities for you. I can't tell you what these opportunities are, but if you have the interest, and you have the will, and you have the confidence, you will have a lot of opportunities.
 I really want you to meet my father, because he's really interesting."
* President George W. Bush actually graduated from Harvard Business School's Class of 1975.
** Linda Chavez withdrew from consideration for the post of Secretary of Labor after it was revealed she had given  Marta Mercado a couple hundred dollars to do household chores for her several years before. At the time of the allegation, Mercado had became a U.S. citizen. The allegation was a leaked by Margaret "Peggy" Zwisler. (Washington Times)

8/16/14 10:54 pm EST Update

At the 28 minute mark, there's another exchange between the game show host and Sec. Chao regarding McConnell. First, about his smile, and then I think she talks about his leadership and integrity. Oh I missed it. Here's something I liked at the 34 minute mark:
"I think the most important thing is (not to) miss an opportunity to forgive yourself, and not be regretful. And look forward. Do not look backward."

8/17/14 2 AM EST Update

If you're still awake, Elaine Chao did a PSA for children. This talk seems less spontaneous than the one above, but it's probably great for the target audience. It's a good thing for kids to see faces like theirs in positions of power.

Chao ends this video with the following advice:

“You know everybody talks about being happy these days. And I guess my secret to you is that happiness comes from you. It doesn’t come from outside, and it doesn’t come from other people. So you have the power to decide within yourself whether you want to be happy or sad. Even when bad things are happening, you have the choice to either handle it well with courage, fortitude or you can just completely give up. So you have that power to either be happy or to be sad. And I would suggest that you always choose to be happy. Be brave when bad things happen. And be able to handle any situation that comes along with great courage and great fortitude. That will make you happy.”

McConnell in-law’s ship leaves Shanghai port, still flying Liberian flag Friday, Aug 15 2014 

Liberian-flagged Hsin May, currently in China South Sea.
Over the last week, I've written about how Senator Mitch McConnell's in-law and donor of $5 million gift, James Chao, flies the flag of Liberia on his fleet of ships to evade U.S. taxes.

Sunday, International Business Times noted this conflict of interest questioning whether McConnell's sympathy for his in-laws could have anything to do with his opposition to tax reform aimed at  forcing U.S. citizens to pay their fair share of U.S. taxes?

Despite McConnell spending most of the week in Kentucky, to my knowledge no reporter tracking him has asked whether his in-laws plan to continue flying Liberian flags on their ships?
Or why he thinks it is okay for U.S. citizens to evade taxes abroad generally?

In the meantime, Chao's ships continue to fly Liberian flags. I continue to watch them.

How many ships are in Mitch McConnell father-in-law’s fleet and guess which flags they fly? Sunday, Aug 10 2014 

McConnell, his wife, and father-in-law Chao.
Senator Mitch McConnell's father-in-law, Captain James S.C. Chao, has fifteen ships in his fleet today, but that's going to change. That's because Chao has eight more ships ordered which are expected to be added to his fleet by 2016. That would bring his total to twenty-three. That's all according to a July 24, 2014 article appearing in Tradewinds.

Chao's fleet, incorporated as Foremost Maritime Group, has a contracts to purchase six ships from Qingdao Beihai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry, a subsidiary of state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Co (CSIC). Another two ships are being built by Nantong Cosco KHI Engineering Co (Nacks). Two of the ships under construction with CSIC are contracted at $55 million each, and two with Nacks are contracted for $58 million each. 

If $50 million is the average price tag, that means Chao is shelling out $400 million for his new capesize bulkers. Ships so large they cannot pass through the Suez Canal or Panama Canal, but must pass beneath the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn to travel between oceans are called capesize bulkers.

Chao's status as one of, if not the, biggest customer for the Asian shipbuilding industry is not a new thing. When China's former Premier Wen Jiabo welcomed Chao to the Great Hall of the People of Beijing in 2006, Chao was acknowledged for "becoming the biggest American customer for the Chinese shipbuilding industry." 

American customer, well kind of. Chao's a U.S. citizen, but his ships fly Liberian flags.The Republic of Liberia is in west Africa. Foremost Maritime Group is not. By flying Liberian flags, Chao avoids paying U.S. taxes. Here's a video of Hsin May, one of Foremost vessels proudly flying the Liberian flag:

(As of Saturday, the Hsin May was off the western coast of Australia. You can track her here.) 

As Tradewinds notes, "Shanghai-born Chao and is said to have close links with both the US and Chinese governments."  That would certainly explain the appearance of his name on the White House guest list the night in 2011 that President Barack Obama was entertaining the then-General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China Hu Jintao.
How convenient.
Liberian flag.

But if you're thinking Chao received a father-in-law discount for those close links, think again. Since 1990, over $300,000 in political contributions from Foremost Group employees have flowed to candidates campaigns for federal office, like McConnell for Senate, and campaign committees like the Kentucky Republican Party. And those are just the contributions we know about.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Former Senator John Breaux (D-Louisiana) floated legislation requiring cargo vessels owned by U.S. corporations to fly U.S. flags. It went nowhere. Today, the push is to end inversions, where companies relocate their incorporation abroad to evade U.S. taxes. The two efforts share the same aim, holding wealthy Americans accountable for paying their share of U.S. taxes. 

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) introduced a bill to stop inversions in July, but McConnell has already suggested that bill, like Senator' Breaux's over a decade ago, should go nowhere:
"It's a bill that's designed for campaign rhetoric and failure, not to create jobs here in the U.S.,...But that's not stopping our friends on the other side from bringing it up again — just as they did right before the last big election too."
The latest CBS poll showed McConnell with support from 50% of likely voters, and opponent Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes with only 46%, a tie within the 4% margin of error.Voters who believe wealthy Americans should pay their fair share of U.S. taxes may pause to consider whether McConnell would be willing to strip his father-in-law's ships of those Liberian flags?

8/10/14 6:03pm This article was updated to reflect McConnell's lack of support in July for a bill aimed at limiting tax breaks for U.S. companies that move operations overseas. 

8/11/14 7:11am
Here's a clip of McConnell's wife and former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao at the October 12, 2011 signing ceremony for the Liberian flagged
Lan May, and she had some words to say:

James Chao himself was present for the ceremonies for the Liberian flagged Guo May and Dan May:

The Ji May is another Liberian-flagged Foremost ship.

Update 8/17/2014 1:56 AM EST
And Elaine Chao spoke also at the signing ceremony for the Grain May in 2013:

We came back from not podcasting all summer to do one more… Tuesday, Aug 5 2014 

We came back from not podcasting all summer to do one more episode before Linda moves to Cambridge. We missed you! 

In our 47th and final episode (for now), we talk about all the craziness at LEO and hope the drama inspires Louisville News Doge to return to Twitter (this was recorded before this “Breaking the Silence” update on the LEO’s Facebook page). 

We catch up on what we’ve been up to in our two-month absence and look forward to vacation, the state fair (Kenny Rogers and Joan Jett!), and Keb’ Mo and G. Love and Special Sauce. Linda would be looking forward to seeing Shovels and Rope at Waterfront Wednesday on August 27th, but she will be in Cambridge. So she’s just sad that she’ll be missing all these things. 

What’s melting our butter? For Melissa, it’s Kentucky Shakespeare. Linda saw and loved Guardians of the Galaxy and also recommends Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (but not if you have anything you need to do). 

We sign off with a very heartfelt send-off from Melissa to her co-host, who, despite sounding like a heartless mongrel, will miss Melissa, the podcast, and Louisville very, very much.

Thank you for listening. For future adventures, you can follow us as @loueyville and @ljgolden on Twitter. 

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