Daddy Issues: Soap Opera Politics in Battle of Super Wealthy Families

That’s the most recent Alison Lundergan Grimes ad. It attacks Mitch McConnell for spending 30 years in Washington and getting insanely rich. Technically, as several fact checkers have pointed out, the vast sum of McConnell’s accumulated wealth does not come from the repeated pay raises he gave himself (though those didn’t hurt) but rather from the fact that in his first decade in Washington, McConnell was able to woo another DC insider and eventually marry her — and it turns out her daddy’s a billionaire shipping magnate.

Which helps.

In 2004, Mitch McConnell’s net worth was just $3.1 Million; by 2007, it was a measly $7.8 million; but in 2008 it leapt to somewhere around $23 Million.

That giant leap for Mitch McConnell came at a time when the rest of Mankind was taking one small step backwards — America’s economy had imploded and trillions in personal wealth were lost. But Mitch was okay thanks, in part, to a vast monetary gift from McConnell’s father-in-law to his wife, then the sitting Secretary of Labor in the Bush Administration, Elaine Chao.

When Grimes released the above ad a few days ago, the McConnell folk did some leaping of their own, quick were they to dismiss Mitch’s wealth as purely the burden of having in-laws rather than the result of some power couple politicking or Mitch’s own three decades of power consolidation.

Which is fine. Sometimes your in-laws show up unannounced for the Holidays, sometimes they give you $15,000,000. It’s all part of the sanctity of marriage.

The Kentucky Senate race seems to have moved from a deadening tit-for-tat about which candidate will burn more coal over the next six years into a Hatfield/McCoy inter-family grudge match — if the Hatfields and McCoys were multi-millionaires.

Yesterday the race was all atwitter over Alison Lundergan Grimes’ sweet family deal on a fleet of campaign busses.

Tomorrow, perhaps we’ll be trying to figure out the answer to this riddle: If Mitch McConnell’s campaign says the vast majority of his wealth isn’t the result of him enriching himself on the taxpayers dime but is rather just a gift from his father-in-law to his wife, whose money is it that keeps underwriting loans at vast sums to McConnell’s own campaign? Is that the Foremost family gift money, or is that the couch-cushion change from all those raises McConnell’s given himself?





If the McConnell people were so quick to leap to their bosses defense to suggest that his vast wealth was really barely his at all but actually belonged to his wife, then where’d the $250,000 Mitch McConnell loaned his own campaign come from?

Where McConnell’s money comes from doesn’t really matter. He’s got a lot of it, his wife has even more of it, it’s theirs to share — and it’s also rather sweet. After a couple decades of marriage, Mitch’s in-laws have given him over $100,000 in contributions, $27,500 in 2012 alone. That’s the sign of a healthy relationship. So good for Mitch & Elaine!

What all this comes down to, really, is the most expensive Senate race in history being waged by two enormously wealthy families in one of the poorest states in the Union.

The bickering about whose family has more money and whose money is more tainted by family is entertaining (though I still prefer Days of Our Lives) but it’s also a little off-putting.

Take, for example, this ad from the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition — a dark money group that funnels cash from billionaires into the Kentucky Senate with, thanks to the decades long service of Mitch McConnell, absolutely no telling which billionaires are actually paying for the ad:

That’s an advocacy ad against the “Death Tax.” The “Death Tax” is just a pretty name for the “Estate Tax.”

Billionaires and mega-millionaires hate the Estate Tax, which explains why the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition and Mitch McConnell want to end the “Estate Tax” but doesn’t particularly explain why Kentucky voters should care about the issue.

The ad’s nice. Guy talking, seems real, says “family farm” about 80 times in 30 seconds, you see a standard Kentucky home on a hill, not exactly a mansion.

But the Estate Tax only actually affects estates that are worth more than $5,000,000. ["Death Tax" Myths Debunked, CBPP].

If your estate isn’t worth $5,000,000 or more, repealing the estate tax will do nothing for you.

The median annual household income in Kentucky is $42,000. Twenty percent of the state population lives below the poverty line.

But — when you’ve got a political debate being dictated by billionaires and millionaires, perhaps ending the “Death Tax” is the kind of issue they like to see raised in the ads that they pay for.


Oh… also… tax relief for the wealthy is just what Kentucky needs:

While the poorest 20 percent of Kentuckians pay 9.1 percent of their income in state and local taxes and the middle 20 percent pay 10.9 percent, the wealthiest one percent pay only 5.7 percent, according to the fourth edition of “Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States,” released today by the Washington-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP).

“Our tax system is upside down,” said Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. “It’s the wealthiest Kentuckians who have the greatest ability to pay taxes and whose incomes have grown the most over the past couple of decades. Many poor and middle-class Kentuckians have seen their wages stagnate or decline. Yet the wealthiest pay far less of their income in taxes.”

Andy Barr & Mitch McConnell remain silent on Democrats “War on White People”

It’s been a week since the last big Kentucky Senate race poll came out and it seems while both sides have had a good deal to say about aspects of the poll, one issue the poll raised has gone largely without comment.

The Public Policy Poll found that Kentucky Republicans are convinced that the Democratic Party is waging a “War on White People.”

By a 42/28 margin Kentucky Republicans think the Democratic Party is waging a war on white people. Mo Brooks may speak for the base

Among respondents who identified as “very conservative” (which accounts for 37% of all the people polled, see here) these numbers were even worse — 54% of these Republicans believe the Democratic Party is waging a “War on White People” while just 22% believe that’s moronic.

Strangely, in response to such widespread ignorance within their own party, neither Mitch McConnell nor Andy Barr have done anything to disabuse their supporters of this racist notion.

It’s doubly strange since just two weeks ago, the McConnell campaign and the state’s Republican Party couldn’t stop talking about racist politics in Kentucky. In that case, a single rogue “consultant” tweeted something racist about Mitch McConnell’s wife and in response everyone on both sides blasted her for it.

In this case, 42% of all Republicans — and 54% of the state’s true conservatives — believe there is a “War on White People” being waged by the Democratic Party. And the McConnell campaign, the Barr campaign and the state GOP are silent. Apparently, racism within their ranks is okay.

One idiot on the other side, and Republicans are up in arms — tens of thousands of them within their own party, that is another story.

Over half of the state’s African American population, and nearly half the state’s Hispanic population, live in Kentucky’s 6th District and 3rd District. (Also big: Hopkinsville in Christian County.)

Obviously Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and 3rd District Congressman John Yarmuth are leading the “War on White People.” Each day that passes, these three leaders inch closer to the total eradication of White Culture.


The fact that Mitch McConnell and his campaign have not addressed the racists within their ranks or even sought to correct this apparently widely popular Republican misconception is highly opportunistic and not particularly surprising. Either McConnell and his team share their supporters racist beliefs, or they are willing to silently do nothing to correct them.

Sixth District Congressman Andy Barr, on the other hand, may have a simpler motivation for not addressing these galling statistics. If 52% of conservative voters believe the Democratic Party is waging a “War on White People” that’s probably a-okay with Garland H. Barr IV.

After all, until just four years ago, Andy Barr was a card-carrying member of a racist organization, the Whites Only Idle Hour Country Club.

Those 54% of Kentucky’s die-hard Republicans who believe there’s a “War on White People”? Those are Andy Barr’s people.


Also, for the record, here’s what Barack Obama’s “War on White People” looks like — he is literally killing them with kindness!

Obama's War on White People is Killing Kentuckians with Kindness

Obama’s War on White People is Killing Kentuckians with Kindness



Last Thoughts On Robin Williams: Why We Hate Ourselves

The first joke I ever told, I stole from Robin Williams. At dinner, when my brother was speaking, I told him, “Sit down and shut up!” I didn’t get the joke—not sure I do now—but I had heard Robin Williams say it on a rerun of Mork and Mindy. The people on TV laughed, and when I said it, my family laughed (with the exception of my brother, who beat the ever-living fuck out of me—everyone’s a critic). This started my long career of repeating what I saw on TV and hoping it made people laugh. The results lay somewhere between “Schwing” and “Master of my domain.” Which is to say, I’m hilarious.

I’m not interested in Robin Williams’ career, or whether his Oscar for Good Will Hunting is ridiculous (it is) or if he’s underrated as a stand-up (he is). What I want to know is why funny people kill themselves. They don’t always kill themselves directly, but sometimes through dope (John Belushi) or old age (Groucho Marx) or Jet-ski accident (Woody Allen in 2020) or fake cancer (Andy Kauflman) or by hijacking a plane and flying it into the World Trade Center (Mohammad Atta). Okay, so maybe just dope. But there are a lot of comedians who die from dope.

Mork and Mindy wasn’t my favorite show when I stole their joke. That was Diff’rent Strokes (which roughly translates to “Different Strokes”). That family felt funny without trying. In retrospect, I realize it was mawkishness that kept me watching. But I liked spending time with the Drummonds. Mork had to win me over with craziness because he was an alien. I didn’t understand him, so he had to work at making me like him.

Every comedian is an alien. This is something that Robin Williams understood more than anyone. He flailed around to make his joke. If you and I were having a conversation and I said “How’s it going?” you’d say “Fine” (if you’re normal) or “Oh, let me tell you about it” (if you’re in asshole) or “Hippopotamus “ (if you misunderstood the question). But if you were talking to a comedian, you’d get a barrage of one-liners and jokes. On top of that, you’d expect it, and if that person simply had a normal conversation with you, you’d feel cheated.

Robin Williams is the biggest alien—or as he’d soon be seen in Popeye, a fleshy cartoon. He’s so unlike us that we laugh at him trying to communicate with humankind. His comedy was the equivalent of a squirrel shooting a free-throw—it doesn’t matter if the shot goes in, but it’s cute that he’s trying.

I don’t much like Robin Williams. I like the sort of humor I can recognize as coming from someone I know. It’s the same reason a casual conversation with my friends makes me laugh far more than a gifted stand-up comedian. My friend wants me to laugh—the comedian needs me to laugh or he’ll sulk and feel like he’s a failure. My favorite comedians perfume that desperation to where you can’t smell its stink. But that wasn’t Robin Williams’ way.

He seemed like a nice guy. If I met him on the street, I bet he’d humor me by talking to me and trying to make me laugh. But my (wholly unfair) impression of him is that after fifteen minutes I’d be checking my watch and pretending I have to go somewhere. It’s not that he wouldn’t be funny—I imagine I’d laugh a lot—but he’d be so desperate to be funny that I think it would be hard to relax and enjoy the conversation. It’s entertaining and exhausting to listen to Robin Williams talk to us because he’s not one of us. He’s an alien.

The same problem happened when he switched to serious roles. He played saints—a surgeon who heals people through his red rubber nose, a psychiatrist who cracks through his tough cases by repeating “It’s not your fault” (I get that I’m in the minority, but Jesus, Good Will Hunting was a stupid movie). That’s no different than being a wise-cracking genie who impersonates Jack Nicholson. Both are compelling: neither is human. In fact, both play like a robot approximating what it would take to get humans to like him.

No death is easy, even from a great distance. But why is suicide different? And why is suicide sadder?

I heard about Robin Williams’ death from a text message chain from a couple of my wise-ass friends who are also Barefoot writers. They were joking and I joked too. The headline I read said, “Robin Williams Dead at 63.” When a 63 year-old with a history of cocaine use and heavy boozing who has already had a heart attack dies, the world tends to be unsurprised. I passed one of my stupid jokes to my brother (he who would neither sit down nor shut up). He said, “It’s sad when people kill themselves.”

That changed things immediately. Now, I felt like I was bullying him, his loved ones, and his fans. It’s difficult to say why. But imagine if you found out tomorrow that Robin Williams died because he was trying to auto-erotically asphyxiate himself. Would it make his death seem less tragic somehow? In fact, it seems like a wasted opportunity for a final Robin Williams joke: he could’ve pulled his pants down and made the world think that’s how he died.

Suicides are sadder. Objectively, that doesn’t make sense. Why do we feel differently about the deaths of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and James Gandolfini? Both of those men were younger, and, more pertinently, they did not want to die. Robin Williams did want to die. That we can’t accept that says a lot about our national character. Whether we should accept that, depends largely on your proximity to suicide.

A few years ago, my God-brother shot himself in the mouth. This was after a daily struggle with crippling depression that he had ever since he was a teenager. The great refrain about suicides is, ”I never saw it coming.” Yes, I never saw it coming, but only because I didn’t look very hard. I should have seen it coming from a mile away. Still I do not, do not, do not accept that he wanted to die.

When we mourn the dead, we’re talking about ourselves. Every tribute to Robin Williams is someone detailing their own lives. It’s not even that we feel depressed—we feel robbed. They chose to spend time with nothing over us.

James Gandolfini eating himself to death causes us pain, but we can deal with it—he is fat, and we are not. Phillip Seymour Hoffman OD’ing hurts us, but only to a point—he’s addicted, and we are not. Rush Limbaugh breaking his neck while fellating a baby mountain goat causes us grief, but it’s a manageable grief—Rush Limbaugh loves the taste of goat semen, and we do not.

But Robin Williams killed himself. And there’s a reason why that hurts us more than any other death. It feels like he’s addressing you and saying “Well, you’ve given me no reason to stay.” In truth, people leave our lives for the same reason they show up there in the first place: no reason at all. Yet, we see leaving as a judgment.

Why do funny people kill themselves? The same reason the rest of us kill ourselves. I get that this is a political website and a pretty non-political topic, but I do think it has politicized roots. This is a component of living in modern America. We hate ourselves. We aren’t suicidal, but when something bad happens, we feel like we deserve it.

When we work longer and harder than our parent’s generation for less money, we think “Only an asshole complains.” That’s because we hate ourselves. When East Kentucky is named the poorest and unhappiest part of America, and we figure we can’t do anything different because this is our culture, it’s because we hate ourselves. We don’t feel we’re worth more.

And when people leave us, we think we deserve it as well. The outpouring of grief over Robin Williams is no doubt genuine, but it’s not about Robin Williams. It’s about the grievers. A year ago, when Robin Williams was the star of The Crazy Ones, how many of these same people would talk how much they loved him? How many of them thought of Robin Williams as this cringing embarrassment they wanted to go away?

Now he’s gone away, and we feel responsible. In his depression, he seemed more human—less like the manic clown who wanted our approval, and for once, like someone who didn’t care about us at all. We want to apologize for letting him down. But we didn’t do anything wrong. Neither did he.

Depression is a motherfucker. I imagine Robin Williams knew how much people loved him, but no amount of love alters the nature of depression. It’s a disease, same as addiction, same as cancer. Instead of projecting our sadness onto Robin Williams, let’s talk about the real issue. Why do we hate ourselves? How do we get better?

We can start by taking our friends at their words. They wanted to die. Let’s respect them, and leave them their grief. Part of the reason we can’t accept that our loved ones want to die is because we don’t want to die. We understand the pain of being alive, but we like it—at least we prefer it—and we can’t fathom people who don’t think like us. But it’s okay to not understand. We don’t need to apologize for existing; they don’t need to apologize for not existing.

I called Robin Williams an alien, but of course, he’s not. He’s human, and he died succumbing to the human condition. But we don’t have to. Sometimes we tell jokes or stories to stave off that condition. Sometimes it works.

The impulse for extinction is part of all of us. But if we can love and forgive famous people who we did not know, we can forgive each other. The first step toward doing so is to ask more from ourselves and to ask for more for ourselves.

A Gift for Mitch: Elaine Chao is Pro Coal!


Two years ago, Elaine Chao joined the board of the Bloomberg Foundation, a philanthropy that dumps massive amounts of cash into causes close to Mike Bloomberg’s heart — causes like gun control, soda bans, oppressive levies on tobacco consumption and the total eradication of coal power.

Chao is married to Mitch McConnell and Mitch McConnell’s trying to get to his sixth term in the US Senate so none of that sits too well with Kentucky voters and over the last couple days, McConnell and his campaign and their surrogates have been at pains to point out that Chao’s presence on the Board is merely as a clandestine agent gathering top secret information on the enemies of Freedom — and that, no, she will not leave the Foundation.

McConnell insists his wife is “Pro Coal”, despite her work with Bloomberg to pump $50 Million into closing aging coal plants. The Foundation has a stated goal of “helping to end our nation’s reliance on dirty coal, plant-by-plant, community-by-community, and state-by-state.” But McConnell says she’s not involved in all that because it pre-dated her arrival on the board.

ThinkProgress examined that claim and found it lacking:

A spokesman for McConnell brushed aside the Chao-Bloomberg issue in comments to Yahoo News, asserting that “the decisions to make those grants by the Bloomberg philanthropies were made before she joined the board and she played no role in the decision to grant them.”

There are three problems with that argument. First, yes, it’s true that Chao joined in April 2012, and, Bloomberg announced the initiative in July 2011 as we reported at the time. But as the foundation made clear in its 2013-2014 annual report, released in February, that it’s an ongoing partnership. “Our efforts to reduce U.S. coal pollution through a partnership with the Sierra Club are bearing real fruit,” the report said. “Last year, we passed the halfway mark toward our goal of retiring one-third of the country’s coal fleet, our dirtiest energy source.”

The Foundation’s work on a series of issues — anti tobacco, anti gun, anti soda, anti coal — that are anathema to McConnell’s core supporters is apparently not enough to get Chao to quit the organization.

McConnell and his team have been going to great lengths to establish Chao’s pro-coal bonafides (“bending over backwards” is how Yahoo’s Chris Moody put it), so in the spirit of Commonwealth, B&P decided to throw Mitch a bone.

Rather than examine her possible anti-coal activities of the last two years, why not examine the evidence of Elaine Chao’s track record over her time as Secretary of Labor. Let’s take a look at her deeply held support of Big Coal Companies, starting with the fabulous Mr. Cheves:

When Mcconnell’s pull fails, his Labor Secretary wife fills in

BY JOHN CHEVES / October 20, 2006

Millionaire coal magnate Bob Murray knew the name to drop in September 2002, when Mine Safety Health Administration inspectors confronted him about safety problems at his mines: Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Murray, a large man with a fierce temper, is a huge donor to Republican senators. McConnell, R-Ky., rose through the ranks by raising money for those senators. And McConnell is married to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, whose agency oversees MSHA.

Shouting at a table full of MSHA officials at their district office in Morgantown, W.Va., Murray said: “Mitch McConnell calls me one of the five finest men in America, and the last I checked, he was sleeping with your boss,” according to notes of the meeting. “They,” Murray added, pointing at two MSHA men, “are gone.”

Murray, in a recent interview, denied that he referred to McConnell “sleeping with” Chao.

But nobody disputes that district manager Tim Thompson, at one end of Murray’s jabbing finger and the man whose notes recorded the meeting, was transferred to another region, away from Murray’s mines. He appealed the transfer for three years until he grudgingly took retirement in January. Labor Department officials refuse to discuss his transfer.

Cheves’ 2006 report (and the whole archive) is must read stuff and it goes on from there.

A year after that article was published, Bob Murray was in the news again when one of his mines in Utah collapsed, trapping several miners. Murray immortalized himself by holding a bizarre press conference in which he showed no great concern for his trapped miners and screamed at journalists while claiming the collapse was caused by an earthquake (it wasn’t) rather than his lax safety standards (it was). In the end, 9 people died, six more were grievously injured:

In 2008 in the waning days of Elaine Chao’s run as Secretary of Labor in the Bush Administration, Murray’s was fined over $1 Million for the collapse. They eventually settled the case in 2012,  the third largest Mine Safety settlement in US history.

“Our investigation found that it was not an earthquake, but the mining plan and the failure to act” that caused the collapse, Main told The Associated Press.

Genwal accepted 17 safety violations, with four of them contributing to the cave-in, he said. The agency dropped another 3 violations related to the collapse of a coal pillar in another section of the mine five months earlier.

“They allowed the mine to deteriorate and ignored warning signs that contributed to the tragedy,” Main said.

Prior to the collapse, Murray’s mine had received 64 safety violations.

An investigation into the collapse ultimately faulted both Murray’s company and the Mine Safety Administration that Elain Chao oversaw as Labor Secretary:

The collapse of the Crandall Canyon mine one year ago was so extensive that federal officials found no other mining disaster in the last 50 years to compare to it.

Hundreds of coal pillars, overloaded by aggressive mining that carved out too many voids, collapsed within seconds on Aug. 6, 2007, entombing six miners nearly half a mile underground. Satellite radar images show that a 69-acre section of the mine caved in — the equivalent of about 63 football fields.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration said the mine was “destined to fail” because the mining company made critical miscalculations and didn’t report early warning signs. But the agency itself also was faulted by its parent agency, the Department of Labor, for lax oversight before the collapse and for its handling of a haphazard rescue effort that left three more people dead.

Now, recall that Bob Murray is the guy who confronted Mine Safety regulators with threats about their jobs, citing his close friendship with Mitch McConnell who was, Murray is to have claimed, “sleeping with their boss.”

With a track record like that and personal relationships such as these, it seems difficult to suggest that Mitch McConnell or his wife are “anti coal” even if she sits on the Bloomberg board.

Keep in mind that Murray Energy Corp. is currently fighting to block mine safety regulations that target black lung disease; Alison Lundergan Grimes is hitting Mitch McConnell for not supporting black lung benefits and other mine safety procedures; and as Jeff Goodell explored in his 2007 book, Big Coal, Chao’s time overseeing Mine Safety while Labor Secretary is marked by what appears to be a routine deference to support Coal, if not those who mine it:

Mitch McConnell attacks opponent’s father for supporting the Big Blue Nation

Yesterday on the campaign trail, Mitch McConnell was pressed on his wife’s role on the board of Mike Bloomberg’s philanthropic organization which has pledged $50 Million to close aging coal plants and transition to newer energies.

Asked if Elaine Chao would resign her position, McConnell played dumb:

McConnell was defiant as he was asked whether Chao would resign from the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies, saying “of course not — why should she?”

“She’s pro-coal. She’s in the same place I am on the NRA,” McConnell said. “It’s a big charitable board, but it’s also got Jeb Bush on it. You think he’s a Democratic sympathizer?”

“She’s not going to resign,” he continued. “They do a lot of good things. They do some things she does not approve of, and she doesn’t approve of their efforts in the coal industry.”

The charity, which was formed by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, pledged in 2011 to spend $50 million over four years on the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign with the goal of eliminating one in three coal-fired power plants by 2020. Chao joined the board in 2012.

Bloomberg, of course, isn’t just dropping $50 Million into the “War on Coal.” He’s also spending big on anti-tobacco campaigns — committing over $600 Million to fight Big Tobacco companies around the world. Big Tobacco has deeply underwritten Mitch McConnell’s entire career — in fact Altria/PhillipMorris and RJ Reynolds are both among his top 5 career contributors and have given him over $30,000 directly so far in this cycle (no telling how much they’ve given to his phalanx of “unaligned” committees).

Bloomberg, as Mitch suggested, is also a huge gun control advocate and his organization recently announced a $50 Million anti-gun initiative. Bloomberg’s Big Government style approach to fighting obesity is also one of the Foundation’s leading causes, with a recent $10 Million initiative to follow up on his NYC soda ban — and again, not particularly in line with Mitch McConnell’s preferred method of governance.

In case you were wondering: Kentucky’s leading causes of death are 1) Heart Disease; 2) Cancer; 3) Respiratory Disease; 4) Stroke; 5) Accidents. The top four, obviously, are directly connected to the types of issues Bloomberg fights against — and McConnell and Elaine Chao oppose Bloomberg’s efforts to do so, despite Chao’s place at the Bloomberg foundation. (To be fair to them, it is possible McConnell and Chao are opposed to Death by Accidents, but we currently have no proof of that.)

Diabetes is #7, having killed just over 1,000 Kentuckians in 2010, and Firearms caused over 550 deaths.

To hear the Kentucky Coal Association tell it, Elaine Chao service on Bloomberg Foundation Board is actually a secret plan to get on the inside. Chao, they claim, is a sleeper cell and her role is primarily Misanthropic rather than Philanthropic.

[Kentucky Coal Association head Bill Bissett] defended Chao and argued that her work with the group should be viewed as positive for pro-coal advocates because it would provide them with “someone on the inside.”

“Since her appointment, her involvement as a proven pro-coal person has given Kentuckians someone ‘on the inside’ of these boards who can express our views and explain the social and economic harm that has been caused in the past,” Bissett wrote in the letter.

So supposedly she just took the position to spy on the inner goings on of an evil billionaire who wants to spend his retirement money saving lives. Is this the plot of a Batman movie or the Kentucky Senate race?

Regardless, the McConnell’s larger response to the whole Elaine Chao War on Coal kerfuffle has been to threaten the Grimes campaign that they will start doing what they’ve already been doing.

McConnell’s campaign has responded to stories about Chao’s membership on the Bloomberg board by saying she wasn’t involved in the decision to fund the Sierra Club initiative, a decision the board took prior to Chao’s joining it. McConnell told Lana Bellamy of The Independent Grimes should be careful about bringing family into the campaign given her father is Jerry Lundergan.


This is an absurd threat given that the McConnell campaign has already been “bringing family into the campaign” — they’ve been lashing at Jerry for months, and they’d be foolish not to. It’s cute that they’re trying to now claim that family members are off limits as if they haven’t been targeting Grimes’ father, but anyone who buys that claim or repeats it without question is playing into Team Mitch’s clammy hands.

In fact, at Fancy Farm one year ago, Mitch McConnell never once uttered Alison’s name — but went out of his way to bring her father into the campaign, as Gerth reported:

But legal troubles that forced Lundergan out of the Kentucky House of Representatives two decades ago, his political activity and just his overshadowing presence make him a potential liability as well — so much so that when U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., spoke last month at the Fancy Farm political picnic, he attacked Lundergan rather than his daughter.

“I want to say how nice it is, how nice it is, to see Jerry Lundergan back in the game,” McConnell said to a chorus of hoots. “Like the loyal Democrat he is, he’s taking orders from the Obama campaign on how to run his daughter’s campaign.”

Ted Jackson, a Republican political consultant, said he’d be surprised if the GOP doesn’t try to use Grimes’ father against her, particularly if he takes a very public role in the campaign.

“Everything gets used,” said Jackson. “There won’t be anything that is overlooked.”

With his wife under the microscope, Mitch McConnell and his campaign now want to put family off limits after spending the last year poking at Alison’s father? When McConnell and his campaign have already vowed to go after Jerry. It does make sense, of course. Mitch’s record on jobs and the economy is seriously weak (“It’s not my job”) and will be a continuing theme and the last thing he likely needs is a closer look at Elaine’s dismal performance over eight years as the Secretary of Labor.

So, yes, there’s never been much doubt that the McConnell campaign and its allies would target Jerry Lundergan for a 1980s food contract conviction that was later overturned, nor should it surprise anyone if the fact that McConnell — the leading warrior in the fight to allow unregulated flows of cash into American elections — took illegal campaign contributions and didn’t return them for two years after it was obvious that they’d been given illegally. That’s politics. Family’s part of it, the past is part of it, and the McConnell team’s been using all of this material all along.

Sometimes very, very badly.

Days before the McConnell campaign was incensed about the reporters talking about Elaine Chao’s role on Bloomberg’s Foundation Board, they were pushing out a story in the right wing National Review entitled “Meet Jerry Lundergan” and another one in the right wing Free Beacon entitled “Inside the Lundergan Family Restaurant” both of which targeted Jerry Lundergan’s Lexington restaurant Hugh Jass Burgers.

The point, sort of, was that the crappy college campus bar/restaurant is a crappy college campus bar/restaurant. For anyone who’s ever been anywhere near any college campus anywhere and been to any of the nearby crappy college campus bar/restaurants where beer is cheap and burgers are… burgers, that’s what Hugh Jass is. But the real revelation in these articles was their targeting of University of Kentucky basketball fans.

Mitch McConnell is a die-hard University of Louisville fan. When the UK team won the national championship in 2012, Mitch McConnell skipped their visit to the White House — but the next year when UofL won, Mitch McConnell spent the day with the team in DC, escorting them to the White House and presumably boring them with drawling tales of his own college days. [see here]

Then, in a campaign ad earlier this year, McConnell used images of the Duke basketball team winning the national championship instead of the UK team. [see here]

So the McConnell campaign track record on basketball politics isn’t good — and their recent attack on Jerry Lundergan wasn’t much better. It may well have been worse.

Here are the targets of this attack on Jerry Lundergan’s crappy campus restaurant: University of Kentucky basketball fans — taken directly from the Free Beacon article Mitch’s supporters were gleefully circulating!


Yes, the McConnell campaign is truly on to something brilliant with this attack on Alison Lundergan Grimes and the storied tradition of Kentucky basketball.


These dirty bros are even fans of Anthony Davis. How can you support someone who runs a restaurant like this? Vote for Mitch McConnell Kentucky. #McConnelL1C4!


That’s right, Kentucky voters! Jerry Lundergan runs a restaurant where you can go with your friends to watch the University of Kentucky Wildcats dominate the Louisville Cardinals year after year on the basketball court.

That Jerry Lundergan is one sick, evil sonofabitch. Mitch McConnell and his totally unaligned campaign staff are knocking it out of the park with this attack on Alison Lundergan Grimes’ family and the Big Blue Nation.

Dig A Little Deeper: CentrePointe Bond Nixed in Frankfort ***Update***

Latest architectural rendering.

Latest architectural rendering.

After months of blowing up downtown Lexington to create a giant hole, the Webb Brothers suddenly announced a few weeks ago that they needed some help from the government to pay for their underground parking garage, this time in the form of a $30,000,000 bond.

The Lexington City Council was to take up this issue at its Thursday session this week — but it looks like that may not be necessary, based on a letter from the Cabinet for Economic Development sent to the Lexington government and the developers today.

A bit of background from the Herald Leader:

CentrePointe developers need the city to pass a resolution supporting its application to the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority board before it can apply. Dudley Webb, one of the developers of the project, has said that they hope to have the application to the board before the Aug. 28 board meeting. The council typically gives resolutions two readings before final passage. However, the council can waive second readings for many resolutions and ordinances. The resolution could and likely will come up for a final vote on Thursday.

It came to a quicker resolution:

TheDud1 TheDud2

“We see no need to proceed in this manner.”

That letter’s been circulating around downtown today and it marks just the latest development in Lexington’s CentrePointe odyssey — in fact, letters like that have really been the only development in this so-called real estate development project.

The Dud, once again, must dud on.

If only that damned mystery investor hadn’t been raptured.


The Webbs have yet to respond to B&P’s request for comment, but Dudley tells the Herald — in four paragraphs in which the word “Hope” is used four times — that he hopes the state’s refusal to get anywhere near the Webbs wacky deal won’t deter the city:

Webb told the Herald-Leader Thursday that he hoped the council would ask the state to reconsider its decision not to issue the bonds.

“I would hope they would go ahead and continue with the resolution and endorse the concept and appeal to the state to reconsider,” Webb said.

Webb said that he hoped to attend Thursday night’s council meeting so the council could discuss it. Regardless, he said the state’s denial will not kill the project, which is currently under construction.

“These discussions are not adversarial by any means,” Webb said of discussions between the city and state. “We are hoping to move it forward.”

Read on: HL: State says no to $30 million in bonds for CentrePointe