Stoops talks after loss Florida Sunday, Sep 14 2014 

Cats send message in triple OT loss Sunday, Sep 14 2014 

i 300x214 Cats send message in triple OT loss

Photo by Mark Foldy/Getty Images

What a game, Cat fans. Kentucky fell to the Gators for the 28th straight season, and while the end result may seem like the same old song and dance, the Cats showed more than just a glimpse of where the program is headed.

Kentucky lost the game 36-30 after three overtimes to a team they haven’t beaten since 1986. Mark Stoops and his troops aren’t about moral victories. Kentucky fans feel deflated after this heart-wrenching loss, and we are still puzzled by Florida not being called for a delay-of-game penalty in the first overtime.

Cats’ fans will come to terms with those things, as they always do, and here’s a more positive spin on the heartbreaking loss and what we can hang our hats on as members of the Big Blue Nation.

Kentucky matured right in front of the SEC nation tonight. They went into a hostile environment called The Swamp and nearly pulled out a victory, surprising any realist. They were nearly three touchdown underdogs going into the game, and lost by one score.

towles 200x300 Cats send message in triple OT loss

Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Quarterback Patrick Towles showed everyone he has the poise to compete in the SEC. After tossing the games’ first touchdown to Garrett Johnson in the second half, Florida came right back with their own answer to take the lead back at 13-10, but Towles never seemed rattled. Towles would find Johnson again on his next drive for Johnson’s second score of the game and regain the lead from the Gators 17-13.

At this point, Florida fans are in complete awe. Gators everywhere are beginning to realize that they could, in fact, lose this game because they are not the same Florida, and this was not the same Kentucky they have seen for almost three decades.

Florida and star receiver Demarcus Robinson would come back to regain the lead 20-17 late in the third quarter. Robinson showed why he may be the best receiver in the SEC with his 15 receptions for 216 yards and two scores on the night.

His performance was not enough to deter the Cats, after they rallied in the fourth quarter to tie the game and send it to overtime on Austin MacGinnis’ 51-yard field goal that was going wide-right, cut back in and bounced off the post to go through the uprights. It looked as if fate and luck were on Kentucky’s side tonight.

Stanley ‘Boom’ Williams and Kentucky scored on their first play in OT on a reception and score only possible in the video games. Going all the way to the right side of the field and cutting back to the left, to take it in and potentially win the game for Kentucky, 27-20.

However, the Cats would run out of steam and inevitably lose to the Gators, 36-30, but not before they took Florida to their first triple-overtime game.

Towles passed for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns, compared to Florida’s quarterback, Jeff Driskol, throwing for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns. Towles outplayed Driskol, a fourth-year quarterback. Towles completed more than 50 percent of his passes. But the best things from his play won’t go down in the stat column. Towles showed no fear to make any throw at any time, which may be a reason he had three interceptions in the game, two that came off of bobbled passes from UK. He never hesitated to challenge UF’s secondary and truly kept Kentucky in the game late.

Towles could’ve hung his head after Florida scored right after UK did to regain the lead, but he didn’t he came back out and hit his favorite target on the night for another score to keep the Cats in it. Fans should see huge promise in this developing quarterback under Stoops’ air-raid offense.

Kentucky’s depth at running back helped keep the offense fresh at times as well. While Braylon Heard finished with most carries, Kentucky’s backs ended up 64 yards on 22 carries and no touchdowns. Against Florida’s strong frontline they helped Kentucky try to open up the field and throw the ball deep.

For the first time since 2007, Kentucky competed with one of the powerhouse programs in the SEC, and while this isn’t the same Florida program we’ve seen the past decade, it’s also not the same Kentucky team. Stars are emerging under Stoops, and this may have been a statement to the SEC and other programs: Do not sleep on Kentucky.

Quick Look at the Florida Gators Friday, Sep 12 2014 

Last year Kentucky played the Gators before everyone figured out that they just weren’t that good. And that may be putting it nicely as they won just one more game before losing their final eight en route to finishing 4-8. Florida won the game 24-7, but if the Cats could have figured out a way to move the ball they would have had a chance. To put into perspective how bad their offense was, think about this. Their biggest play of the game was a 25-yard touchdown run by their kicker Joe Mansour on a fake field goal. Mansour’s five seconds running towards pay dirt were the only time that UK would spend in the Florida red zone. It’s hard to win like that.

Kentucky’s O’s are better this year. And so are Florida’s. But, neither team has really played anyone to provide a real test. Saturday will be a great test for both.

driskel640 500x234 Quick Look at the Florida Gators

The main reason why Florida was so bad on offense last year is because quarterback Jeff Driskel was lost for the season with a broken fibula. No one is saying that Driskel is Heisman candidate, but their is no denying that losing him was a huge setback to the offense.

Now Driskel is back and the Gators are excited. There’s a new offensive coordinator in town and many believe that he better fits that system. He’s a two-way guy and this system allows him to do just that. In their opener against Eastern Michigan, which the Gators won 65-0, he looked more comfortable. He went through his progressions. And he looked to throw deep. Something he hasn’t looked to do in the past. And he was more vocal. The coaching staff really feels like he is now a totally different quarterback.

One reason why Driskel and the offense had such a good game against Ohio is because the offensive line played so well. Still, this is a big question mark for the Gators and some guys have already gotten hurt. They don’t have a lot of depth on their line and you already are going to see guys switching from guard to tackle, something they were hoping they could avoid. The Wildcats could have some success getting to the quarterback, which would be vital to a potential upset.

One thing this team really lacked last year is solid play at the skill positions, which was something we have never seen before in the history of Florida. At least I haven’t. But, those young guys that struggled, they really feel that they are starting to figure it out. One of those guys is sophomore wideout DeMarcus Robinson, who had six catches for 123 yards in their opener after catching just five balls as a freshman because of a suspension. They really feel like he is one of the most talented wideouts in the country.

Defensively, we know this is a good football team. Heck, even when they went 4-8 they still had a top ten defense in the country. Their front seven is the strength of their D. They have a veteran core of linebackers and a ton of depth on their defensive line. They may even shuffle eight to 10 guys on that line. Their biggest question mark is their secondary because they are so young. Sophomore Vernon Hargreaves will look to anchor the unit.

Expect the Gators to rely on their talent and speed at all positions and not blitz a lot. They are at their best when they maintain their gaps and do not overpursue. They will rush four or five guys and if they execute properly they expect to get plenty of push up front.

Can the Cats win? Yes. Will they? Nothing in my lifetime has proven that it is even a possibility.

But, one huge positive from Kentucky’s first two games is the fact that they have turned it over zero times. If they can do that on Saturday in Gainesville, they will have a chance.

I don’t think they’ll win, but we will continue to see marked improvement from this program. I mean, somebody will find the red zone other than the kicker. That’s a plus.

Florida 27, Kentucky 14 (I think that is the score I picked on the podcast earlier this week)

Pros and Cons; Analyzing Coach Cal’s Combine Tuesday, Sep 9 2014 

calnbacamp 500x369 Pros and Cons; Analyzing Coach Cals Combine

Big news dropped earlier Tuesday about an unprecedented event that University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach, John Calipari, was in the works of finalizing an NBA combine for UK players only. The event would be the first of its kind in the college basketball landscape. We’ve seen this done by colleges before, but in the football realm of things.

We’ve never seen the type of talent on one college basketball team that Kentucky will have on their 2014-2015 roster. Draft Express ranks nine Kentucky players in their Top 50 NBA prospects.

The soon-to-be event will be one of the most talked about in college basketball news, probably, until the beginning of season. Here in StraitPinkie fashion, we’re going to weigh both the positive and negative aspects of this unprecedented showcase of talent, and because I prefer bad news first that’s where we will begin.

Cons:

  • Calipari’s combine is likely to T-off many coaches around college basketball, meaning we could start seeing copycats at some of the bigger named schools such as Duke or Kansas. However, the likelihood of it happening this season is slim. With the news coming out just today and we are a little more than a month away from first practices it won’t give schools enough time to do this sort of thing. Other schools also won”t have the amount of talent UK does this season. At most, other programs will have three or four NBA-ready players on their squads.
  • There are many Calipari detractors and this is something that will surely add fuel to the fire. People from UK’s fan base and rival fan bases aren’t terribly happy about the whole ordeal, mainly because of the sudden changes in the roster. Since Coach Cal arrived in Lexington his talent has rotated in-and-out and it’s been a bit of a revolving door which can get tiresome from fans because they don’t get to know the players but for a year and then they’re shipped off across the country. The one-and-done is a hot-button issue in college basketball and that will not change anytime soon with the product Calipari will be introducing now.
  • We are also hearing a lot of people barking about where the loyalty lies. These kids are coming in and thinking about numero uno, instead of the name on the front of the jersey. It’s believed these kids are out there playing for themselves instead of for the team. We’ve seen it happen before at Kentucky. The 2012-2013 team was preseason No. 4 in the nation, and had every bit of talent to compete in the NCAA Tournament. However, the squad never pulled themselves together and we watched them crumble in the first round of the NIT. We even saw it last year when the team got off to a slow start after the lofty expectations of an undefeated season were placed on their heads. The young players were not ready to come out and compete at the start of the season played for ‘me’ instead of ‘we’. They stumbled at points throughout the season, until the magical run to the NCAA Final as a No. 8 seed.

Pros:

  • The event is supposed to be scheduled for Oct. 11-12, and Big Blue Madness will take place less than a week later on Oct. 16. The combine is expected to have representatives from all 30 NBA franchises in attendance, and after that, they will be shutout for the foreseeable future. In past years, Coach Cal has had to deal with a different revolving door than his players, but with the scouts coming in-and-out of the practice facilities to watch his players and get the scoop on them. But that will not happen this year. With as much talent and hype that will be around this team Calipari wants to limit the distractions to a minimum. Shutting the NBA scouts out of practice after the combine will allow him to focus on coaching and developing his players as a team, something he needs after the team last year got off to a slow start.
  • Since Cal arrived in Lexington he has be upfront and honest with the Big Blue Nation. He has said it from Day 1. This is a players-first program. At the end of the day it’s not about wins and losses for him, it’s about whether his players succeed and fulfill their dreams. He has done that for 19 kids in his time at UK. Nineteen of his players have been drafted out of Kentucky since he arrived in 2009, and that number will go up next June. While he does want to please the BBN with wins and championships, he would much rather send players to the NBA and put them on a road to success.
  • If you can’t see this a benefit for the program then you’re really not thinking about this correctly. Holding your own combine is sure to help with recruiting top talent to the program. We know the amount of players drafted out of Kentucky and under John Calipari has helped him on the recruiting trail, but this is sure to make waves. How many other schools can really offer a set time and date for players to showcase their game in front of all 30 NBA teams. This combine could reverse the roles in recruiting and instead of Cal recruiting players, players will recruit Cal.

Cats wear grey. Towles runs a lot. I write about it. Saturday, Sep 6 2014 

On Kentucky’s first drive they went 75 yards on ten plays and scored on a Patrick Towles touchdown pass to Dorian Baker with 11:27 to go in the first quarter.

On their second drive they went 80 yards on eight plays and scored on a Boom Williams touchdown run of 53 yards.

With 8:24 to go in the first quarter, it looked like it was going to be a romp. It looked like Kentucky would score a touchdown on every single possession en route to an easy 60 to something victory.

They wouldn’t score another touchdown.

Sure, they had some extended drives. But, none ended with six. And a couple of those drives didn’t end with any points at all as Austin MacGinnis missed two chippies. One from 28 yards and one from 35 yards.

Coming off of the strong opening week performance against UT-Martin, the two quick scores to start the game really had you feeling that this game was just going to help build on that momentum heading into Florida. Instead those two quick scores and the rest of the game being just “blah” did the opposite.

There were some positives. They didn’t turn the ball over for a second straight game. They held Ohio to just 74 yards rushing. Ryan Timmons had a very quiet ten catches for 95 yards. And they are 2-0. For the first time since 2011 when they opened with wins over WKU and Central Michigan.

But, I can’t write about this game anymore without mentioning the question that was on my mind the whole game and had to be on yours. When did Patty Towles become Barry Sanders? The first couple of QB draws and you were like, “Okay. I know this dude ran a lot in high school. He has deceptive wheels. And it got positive yards.”. Then the QB reads started. And they didn’t stop.

On the drive that led to the MacGinnis 53-yard field goal. Let me read you off the plays on that drive. This is where it got comical. Boom Williams runs for 1 yard. And here we go. Towles runs for 8 yards. Towles runs for 3 yards. Towles throws an incomplete pass. And then it gets really nuts. Towles runs for 13 yards. Towles for 16. Towles for 2. Towles sacked. Towles runs for no gain. They kick.

towlesrush2640 500x234 Cats wear grey. Towles runs a lot. I write about it.

Nine plays and six Patrick Towles runs. And it still didn’t stop. When the game was well in hand late in the fourth quarter, it still didn’t stop. He kept running. He kept getting hit. And Reece Phillips just waited on the sideline for it to be his turn to take some snaps after Towles got hit one too many times. Luckily that didn’t happen.

Towles finished the game with 22 rushes according to the box score. 22! Cut that number in half and it’s still too many attempts. Yeah, some of those were sacks. But, most of them were not. I’m not sure what this offense was. I’m not sure if they were trying to not show Florida anything. But, 22 rushes from your QB?

And I think it affected Towles through the air. He just didn’t look the same as he did last week. I know this is a better defense than UT-Martin. I know that Ohio returned eight starters from last year. I know that there was some drops from his receivers. Including one by Steven Borden in the end zone that was an easy, easy six.

His prettiest ball of the day was a 33-yard connection to Baker that took the Cats down to the Ohio three-yard line. Then they did what they simply cannot do against a better opponent. They got cute on first and goal from the three with a fade to Blake Bone. I hate the fade. Why aren’t you pounding it? Hell, let Towles run it? LOL. Then JoJo Kemp lost a yard. Then Towles got sacked. Then MacGinnis missed the chippy.

The defense was good, but this is a Ohio team that is extremely young on O’s. They scored just 17 points on Kent State. They turned it over four times on fumbles. Kent State is not good. And Ohio had their chances today. They had open receivers down field on multiple occasions and every time either the quarterback missed the throw or the wideout dropped it.

But, you have to give the UK defense credit. They allowed you to feel like Ohio didn’t really have to chance to get back in this thing despite UK offense’s inability to put up more points. I thought Josh Forrest was very active. I thought they did a much better job of controlling the edges than they did last week. And despite Ohio getting free a few times, I thought their secondary was good. And they are just going to get better.

Oh, and it’s in the title so I better talk about their unis. I liked them. I like this uniform switch-a-roo thing. Pull an Oregon and wear a different uni every week. Half the people watching on TV last week thought UK was wearing purple helmets anyways. Y’all folks need to adjust the settings on your television set. I think it’s contrast or something like that. Anyways, the grey and the metallic blue helmets were kinda dope.

In the end, the Cats are 2-0. And now comes Florida. The Gators better be ready Patty “Jukey Jukerton” Towles.

Quick look at the Ohio Bobcats Friday, Sep 5 2014 

Ohio enters Saturday’s contest with Kentucky coming off of five straight bowl appearances under head coach Frank Solich. So, they had success. And all UK fans remember the last time Ohio came to Lexington as the Bobcats took down the Wildcats 28-16 in 2004.

But, this Ohio team faces a challenge that the previous five teams haven’t had to face. They lost a lot of players from last year. They have recruited well and still believe they have enough talent to compete in the MAC, but that has to be proven on the field.

Last week, they opened their season with a road conference game for the first time since 2001. They won the game 17-14, as Josiah Yazdani connected on a 44-yard field goal as time expired. Last year they opened at Louisville and were expected to compete and keep the game close. Instead, the Cardinals played what I thought was their best game of the year as they rolled the Bobcats, 49-7.

In their previous five-year run, the strength of this team was primarily their up-tempo offense. This year their defense may be strength as there are more known commodities on that side of the ball. The running back core is unproven, but talented, and their offensive line is young. Not a good combo.

Five Players to Watch

#15 QB Darrius Vick (JR, 6-1, 196) – Not related to Michael or Marcus, Darrius Vick is a redshirt junior that takes over the reigns for Tyler Tettleton. He came to Ohio from Nebraska, where Solich still has a lot of pull in the recruiting game from his time spent at Nebraska as head coach. Vick is a dual threat that hasn’t really been granted to right to take off and run by his coaching staff. But, he can do it and Saturday would be the perfect opportunity. He can throw the deep ball, too. Last week in his first start, he completed 18 of 24 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns, and no picks.

#8 WR Chase Cochran (SR, 6-2, 190) – Cochran is a deep threat wideout that will play a bigger role this year and should be used over the middle, as well. He caught just one ball for seven yards last week, so look for them to try to get him more involved. Everyone expected Cochran to be the guy, but it was Landon Smith who shined last week with two touchdown catches. He also caught seven balls, which was three less than the 10 he caught all year last year.

#51 LB Jovon Johnson (JR, 6-1, 215) – A freak at the strong side linebacker spot. He led the Bobcats in tackles as a sophomore and had 11 in their opener last week at Kent State.

#37 CB Devin Bass (JR, 5-9, 190) – A ball hawking corner with sights of being named a First Team All-MAC this year. He had 40 tackles and two picks last year.

#93 DL Tarell Basham (SO, 6-4, 250) – Basham had 7.5 sacks as a freshman and was named a Freshman All-American. He had two tackles and half of a sack in their opener.

Like Kentucky, there is a lot of young talent on this Ohio team. But, the Wildcats’ young guys have more talent than the Bobcats. It was Kentucky’s recruiting classes that were talked about nationally, not Ohio’s, and there’s a reason for that. It’s possible, but I don’t foresee a repeat of 2004. The young Wildcats continue to build momentum as they get closer to facing Florida in the Swamp in two weeks. There will be some points scored on both sides, but Kentucky rolls.

Prediction: Kentucky 45, Ohio 24

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.

Kentucky won a football game. Here are my thoughts. Saturday, Aug 30 2014 

College football is back and with that the Kentucky Wildcats took the field for the first time in 2014. Despite Commonwealth Stadium being less than full for the opener, there is excitement about this season. Fans are excited about what Mark Stoops is doing. And Saturday gave us our first opportunity to see a bunch of players that are behind that excitement.

Whether or not Kentucky would beat UT-Martin was never a question. Instead it was more about about how the Wildcats went about getting this win. How Patrick Towles looked in his first career start? How the hyped freshmen and transfers looked? Could this young team use the game against the Skyhawks to build confidence.

Towles looked great. A bunch of freshmen and transfers shined. And yes.

In the 59-14 rout of UT-Martin, Mark Stoops and the Wildcats got exactly what they needed. An easy win and some gained confidence to boot.

Let’s start with the quarterback, because ever since Mike Hartline’s career was ended a game early with a suspension that forced him to miss the BBVA Compass Bowl, Kentucky’s play at quarterback has been worse than the Wendy’s commercials with that annoying ass red head.

Towles was great as he completed 20 of 29 passes for 377 yards, a touchdown, no interceptions, and he added a rushing touchdown. He got rid of the ball quick. For the most part was accurate. I was impressed with the way he went through his progressions. And he showed he ability to hit the deep ball.

The play that stood out to me was when he hit Javess Blue on their first scoring drive for 44 yards down to the three yard line. He hit Blue in stride for a big gain. A perfect ball. Something that this UK team has completely lacked over the last three years.

The number of skill guys that UK threw out there was crazy. Towles hit nine different receivers. Ten receivers overall caught balls as Reece Phillips hit T.V. Williams twice. Four true freshman made a catch (Blake Bone 2-65, Dorian Baker 3-29, Garrett Johnson 3-25, T.V. Williams 2-45). Javess Blue and Demarco Robinson, both seniors, showed the ability to make big plays. And Ryan Timmons once again looked like he could score any time he touched it.

ukutmart640 500x234 Kentucky won a football game. Here are my thoughts.

And then the rushing attack. Braylon Heard, the transfer out of Nebraska, only got two touches, but he made the most of them as he took them both to the house. His first touch as a Wildcat went for a 73 yard touchdown and his second for a 43 touchdown. Two carries for 116 yards. Not bad. Mikel Horton scored twice and JoJo Kemp’s touchdown gave the ‘Cats their first score of the season. And then there was Josh Clemons, who carried the ball twice for just five yards, but it was awesome to see him on the field again.

Overall, there were three things that really stood out to me about this UK offense. Their ability to make big plays, how they were able to stay out of 3rd and long situations, and zero turnovers. These three things killed Kentucky last year. They had over ten plays of 20 or more yards and because they were able to keep it 3rd and shorts converted 8-14 third downs.

I know the defense had a shutout heading into the fourth quarter, but there were things that concerned me even before the Skyhawks decided to move the ball at will for two scores in the fourth quarter. With Za’Darius Smith and Bud Dupree, you would expect the Kentucky to be able to control the edges against a team with lesser talented. That was never the case. Time and time again Abou Toure and the rest of the UT-Martin tailbacks were able to get to the edge and make positive gains.

There were positives on defense. Most impressive was the five forced turnovers. Fred Tiller and A.J. Stamps both had interceptions, giving their secondary two picks in this one, one more than they had all year last year. Stamps, a junior college transfer, quickly showed why the coaching staff was so high on him with his crazy athletic one-handed interception.

Another negative. The return game. It makes you yearn for the days of Derek Abney and Randall Cobb. They have to get more from the return game.

I know, I know this is a lot of positive thoughts for a game against UT-Martin. But, why not be positive? Why look at this game like, “Oh, it’s just UT-Martin so who cares?”. The Wildcats are 4-20 over their previous two seasons. They haven’t started the season at 1-0 since they beat WKU to start the 2011 season. Name the last time they had a quarterback throw for 350 yards, they gained over 650 yards of total offense, and forced five turnovers. I’d look it up, but I’m not Guy Ramsey of the UK Media Relations Department and I’m really, really lazy. And you have to be really excited about all of the skill guys this team possesses and the fact that they may actually have a quarterback that can make plays.

We’ll talk about this a lot more from 10-noon tomorrow morning on ESPN 680.

How awesome is it that college football is back. Yay!

Before Kentucky Farm Bureau, Mitch McConnell takes credit for brokering fiscal cliff deal with $500 million giveaway to Amgen, other pharmaceutical companies Monday, Aug 25 2014 

Kentucky Farm Bureau recently hosted their Measure the Candidate Forum 2014, and today they published their video of opening statements of Senate candidates Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes. 



In McConnell's opening statement,  he gave us a reminder of how he spent his New Year's Eve 2012. 

"You may remember where you were New Year's Eve 2012, but I bet you forgot where I was. I was not with Elaine, I was with Joe Biden."
To hear him tell it, McConnell was Kentucky's fiscal savior that night. Not so fast, Senator. 


In a January 19, 2013 story in the New York Times headlined Fiscal Footnote: Big Senate Gift to Drug Maker, investigative journalists Eric Lipton and Kevin Sack exposed a nasty deed done at dark thirty in that New Year's Eve fiscal cliff deal. 

McConnell and his senate buddies had nestled a $500 million giveaway for the largest biotechnology firm in the world, Amgen, to share with a few other pharmaceutical companies over the next two years. 

Forgot where I found this.
The giveaway was in the form of a two-year extension of an exclusion from a price restraint that targeted a class of drugs that included Amgen's profitable Sensibar. This exclusion had already been extended, and raised the cost of healthcare, for two years already. 

The fiscal cliff compromise that was supposed to raise revenue and cut spending, was poisoned with this sick thing that did neither. 

But it's worse


Who lobbied for the Amgen jackpot but Kentucky's own Hunter Bates, McConnell's former chief of staff. In 2004, the Voice Tribune quoted McConnell on Bates' future:
"McConnell said Bates will 'be one of the top leaders of that generation for our party in the future. And I fully expect that we'll hear from him again.'" 
McConnell heard from him again, alright. Amgen's employees and political action committees have distributed shy of $5 million in donations to political campaigns since 2007, with $73,000 of it going to McConnell's campaign. According to Lipton and Sack, McConnell received some of that sum at a fundraiser Amgen helped sponsor in December, just as the fiscal cliff debate was starting to consume us all. 

Amgen's PAC even gave the Republican Party of Kentucky a $5,000 contribution on December 5, 2012. (FEC

Bates is also founder of Commonwealth Alliances, and is, or was at one time, an attorney with Frost, Brown, Todd. 

Much, much worse

Amgen had recently been a bit of legal trouble for marketing an anti-anemia drug, Aranesp, illegally. On December 18, 2012, the corporation pled guilty in that case, agreeing to pay $762 million in fines, broken down as $612 million for a civil settlement, a $14 million criminal forfeiture payment, and a $136 million for an actual criminal fine. (Reuters

Whether they knew for sure they'd be getting a partial rebate of those fines compliments of US tax-payers, we'll never know.

Putting Amgen in context

According to Lipton and Sack, for years Amgen used lobbyists to ensure Medicare payments for the dialysis drug Epogen. That was until researchers discovered Medicare's practices of paying providers separately for drugs and dialysis treatment led to overprescription. 

Incentives to overprescribe medication? What could go wrong?

Well, for one, patients who took Epogen more than needed it, had increased cardiovascular risks. For another, that's raising the costs of healthcare, like by a whole big bunch.

So like on Schoolhouse Rock, people called up their local member of congress who said, "You're right, there ought to be a law." In 2008, Congress passed a law requiring Medicare to pay bundled rates for a dialysis treatment and related drugs. When the law went to effect in 2011, Amgen sold less Epogen. 

But when Amgen's not happy, nobody is happy. So Amgen, and other pharmaceutical companies, were able to use their lobbyists to compel congress to provide a 2-year exclusion on certain oral drugs, including Amgen's Sensipar. But the problem for Amgen was the 2-year exclusion expired in 2014. 

For Amgen, their $762 million legal settlement, no doubt raised the stakes for keeping Sensipar as overprescribed and profitable as possible.

McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer said his boss didn't push for the Amgen subsidy's inclusion. Steurer told the Courier-Journal's James R. Carroll in an email

“Senator McConnell reviewed the legislation before voting on it, but he did not know who would benefit, beyond the Medicare patients who would continue to be able to see their doctors because we prevented a catastrophic cut.”

Is Steurer telling Kentuckians that McConnell knew the provision was in the fiscal cliff bill, but didn't really know that it benefited the corporation for whom his former chief of staff lobbies? Even though they hosted a fundraiser for him a month before? Does he think we're stupid?

The Times published Amgen's rebuttal, who incidentally has zero credibility since they pled guilty to fraud less than two months before. A snippet:

"Amgen’s communication with Capitol Hill on this issue had nothing to do with patents or patent exclusivity, but with encouraging Congress to heed the cautions of the Government Accountability Office to ensure quality health care for a chronically ill patient population."

While McConnell wasn't the only one with his hands dirty in the Amgen scandal, he is the only senator who has the audacity to take credit for brokering the deal. Probably because this deal has his dirty little fingers all over it.

(Portions of this entry were written for and submitted to Insider Louisville for publication in 2013, but were not published.)

8/26/14 1:21 AM UPDATE
More KFB videos from the forum:

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."
(Applause)
"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.”

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