#EnlightenMitch — Mitch McConnell explains why he refuses to face the voters

Mitch McConnell’s been in office for 30 years and twenty six years ago he explained on the Senate floor that he tries to avoid talking to actual voters because, quote, “I don’t find it particularly enlightening.”

  • Mitch McConnell is currently refusing to debate Alison Lundergan Grimes in front of voters.
  • Mitch McConnell spent three weeks refusing to discuss the great issues of the day on the state’s most popular radio show (until finally he called in and yelled at the host for 13 minutes, claimed it’d been thirty and hung up).
  • Mitch McConnell is currently refusing to meet with the CJ editorial board for a live and uninterrupted interview while simultaneously attacking Grimes for doing so.
  • Mitch McConnell says it’s “not my job” to bring jobs to Kentucky while simultaneously, for twenty six years, refusing to go to the factory gates to actually talk to workers about what’s important to them.

Mitch McConnell is running scared from Kentucky voters because he doesn’t find them “particularly enlightening.” And that, friends, is Mitch McConnell’s way of calling you stupid.

Can you trust his judgment? Mitch McConnell voted for Mitch McConnell

The stumbling, bumbling McConnell campaign is working hard today to paint Alison Lundergan Grimes as a candidate who won’t answer questions. The problem with that? The McConnell team’s examples are Alison’s interview with Kentucky Sports Radio and her meeting with the Courier Journal editorial board — both of which Mitch McConnell has worked hard to avoid.

As we all well know, Mitch McConnell spent weeks refusing to answer KSR’s questions and when he finally did, he tried catch the questioner off guard then filibuster through all the answers in a rage-filled screaming rant. To say that Alison doesn’t answer questions is absurd given that Matt Jones asked Mitch McConnell what he’d do about 500,000 insured Kentuckians who’d lose their insurance if Mitch overturned Kynect — and Mitch answered, “Let me finish my answer!” before never actually answering the question.

Just as they did for weeks after the Grimes appearance on KSR while Mitch was refusing to submit himself to the same level of openness, the McConnell groups are using Grimes’ answers at the Courier Journal to attack her — at the same time that Mitch McConnell is refusing to meet with the Editorial Board of the Courier Journal.

GrimesMitchEdBoards

Whether you think Mitch McConnell’s tactic here — attack an opponent for not being open when you’re being even less open — is idiotic, disingenuous or downright shameful, what it is not is surprising. This is Mitch McConnell and that’s who he is, what he does, and why virtually no one actually likes or truly supports him.

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You see, the thing is here that while the McConnell people are trying desperately to tie Alison Lundergan Grimes to Barack Obama, the unavoidable fact is that Mitch McConnell is tied inextricably to Mitch McConnell.

Mitch McConnell is Mitch McConnell’s candidate.

And people can’t stand Mitch McConnell.

So now the McConnell campaign is trying to make a big deal out of Alison’s simply ridiculous refusal to answer a question about Barack Obama. The only thing particularly interesting about this attack is that anyone would really care. Grimes says the voting booth has a magical sanctity in one breath that precludes her from saying how she voted and in another breath she clearly appears to indicate that she voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary… which would put her squarely in line with 65% of the registered Democrats who voted in that election. Did she vote for Obama after that? She’s been not answering that question for years at the same time she’s clearly been answering it:

See here:

And here:

While it may be confounding that she can’t now answer the question more efficiently since she knows she will be asked, it’s far more confounding why anyone should much care.

This election has never really been about Alison Lundergan Grimes and it’s certainly never been about Barack Obama.

The election is about Mitch McConnell — and do you know who Mitch McConnell voted for in 2008?

Mitch McConnell voted for Mitch McConnell.

Why in the world would that make anyone feel safe, sleep better at night or trust his judgment?

Let’s repeat this again:

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Andy Barr, Predatory Lender

The splendid Ronnie Ellis has a good overview of the current state of the 6th District Congressional race between Andy Barr and Elisabeth Jensen, which includes the following passage:

Sixth District congressional race heating up

Jensen also charges that Barr — who sits on the House Banking Committee — caters to Wall Street rather than to middle class wage earners. Barr said his efforts to amend or reform the Dodd-Frank banking reform passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent bank bailouts is intended to make it easier for small lending institutions to make capital available to small business and farm owners.

Got that?

Andy Barr is seeking to overturn the financial protections instituted after the 2008 economic collapse to “make it easier for small lending institutions to make capital available.”

In 2008, Andy Barr co-authored a letter to the Department of Justice which further illuminates just what the freshman Tea Party extremist means by “make it easier” for “small lending institutions.” Here’s that letter:

PredatoryBarr2 PredatoryBarr3 PredatoryBarr

In that letter (you can click on Barr’s signature or here to go to the PDF), Garland H. Barr IV and his colleagues argue that any regulation of the predatory online lending industry would “adversely impact tens of millions of low income American families who depend on short-term credit provided by online lenders.”

Andy Barr goes on to argue that no “rate limitations” should be imposed on the predatory lending system which regularly charges 400% APR or more on their predatory loans. Barr writes that no government institution has “the authority to ‘take away the very air’ that online lenders ‘need to survive.’”

Elisabeth Jensen hit Barr over his cold-hearted decision to side with an industry that creates an unending cycle of debt for struggling families rather than working to protect the constituents of his district.

We’ll have much more on this next week, but for now, here’s the Jensen campaign’s release:

BARR SOUGHT PROTECTIONS FOR PREDATORY LENDERS OVER KENTUCKY FAMILIES

Signed letter asking relief for online payday loan industry allowed to charge up to 650% APR and prey on hard-working families

Jensen: Raise minimum wage, ensure equal pay for equal work instead of driving people deeper into debt

LEXINGTON – Congressman Andy Barr wrote officials at the Department of Justice and the Federal Department of Insurance complaining the agencies’ investigations into the online predatory lending industry are “choking off from the very air they need to survive.” Barr, who has received more than $470,000 from Wall Street and other tools of the financial services and insurance industries, put the most dishonest brokers of the financial industry – the online lenders – ahead of Kentucky families.

“Andy Barr calls these predatory lenders ‘legitimate’ when all they do is send poor people into debt and keep them in a cycle where they will never get out,” said Elisabeth Jensen, who prefers raising the minimum wage as a way of getting money into families’ pockets now so they don’t have to worry about turning to predatory lenders at all.

“I have news for Andy Barr: there is nothing ‘legitimate’ about charging 400 or 650 percent interest. There is nothing ‘legitimate’ about sucking our Kentucky families into a cycle of debt from which they can hardly recover,” Jensen added. “What is legitimate is raising the minimum wage and ensuring equal pay for equal work, and that’s exactly what I’ll do when I’m in Congress.”

Online predatory lenders act like most payday lenders, loaning in small amounts that seem harmless enough. But the interest rates can be as much as 400 percent, and with online lenders, up to 650 percent APR, according to a study released earlier this month by the Pew Charitable Trust. Pew’s Payday Lending in America claims online lenders are particularly rife with fraud and abuse.

All predatory loans are generally structured so that a borrower is caused to spend $520 on interest for $375 in credit while they are advertised as two-week, flat fee products, the Pew report says. But the online products have special problems:

  • 1/3 of borrowers had loans structured to automatically to renew
  • 9/10 of loan complaints made to the Better Business Bureau were made against online lenders
  • 46% of online borrowers report that a lender made withdrawals that overdrew their checking accounts
  • 30% of online payday loan borrowers report being threatened by a lender or debt collector
  • 650% APR is a typical lump-sum online payday loans. They are usually more expensive online than through storefronts.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which in the letter is mentioned specifically with Dodd-Frank as prohibited by Congress to “cut off the air” these predators need to survive, has sued online predators for some of the scams mentioned in the Pew study.

  • Just last month, the CFPB sued The Hydra Group to halt operations saying the company “uses information bought from online lead generators to access consumers’ checking accounts to illegally deposit payday loans and withdraw fees without consent.” CFPB alleges that the Hydra Group actually put cash into peoples’ accounts without their authorization — $200 to $300 – then withdrew a “finance charge” from the same account of $60 to $90 “every two weeks indefinitely.”

Just last year, the CFPB sued CashCall and its subsidiaries for collecting money from consumers they did not owe. The company, according to the CFPB, illegally debited consumers’ checking accounts for loans that were void.

Less than a month ago, the Pentagon said it would crack down on all kinds of predatory lenders by expanding the Military Lending Act passed by Congress in 2006. Congressional approval is not needed to expand the rule, according to a Sept. 26 story in Stars and Stripes.

“The Pentagon estimates that it costs about $57,000 to replace troops who separate because of money problems,” the newspaper reported noting payday storefronts “clustered outside military installations and websites geared toward servicemembers are often used to draw troops into taking out high interest and other problematic loans.”

A coalition of some 65 diverse organizations in Kentucky, including the AARP and Kentucky Council of Churches oppose predatory lenders. The group, Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending, fights predatory lenders because the organizations realize the practice is nothing but a gateway to a “debt trap.”

Grumpy Old Men: Daily Show takes on major Mitch McConnell donor Hank Greenberg

One of Mitch McConnell’s biggest, most reliable donors got skewered by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last night. Watch!

Despite the fact that Mitch McConnell said, on passage of the TARP bailout in 2008, “This has been the Senate at its finest,” it doesn’t appear that whatever Greenberg’s gripe is has soured their relationship. In the years leading up to the financial collapse Greenberg and AIG gave handsomely to Mitch and in the years since, Greenberg and his new outfit have continued that trend.

Here’s just some of Greenberg’s money to Mitch:

Federal 2013-03-15 $2,700.00 GREENBERG, MAURICE NEW YORK, NY CV Starr & Co McConnell Victory Kentucky
Federal 2013-03-31 $2,600.00 GREENBERG, MAURICE NEW YORK, NY CV Starr & Co Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2013-11-12 $2,500.00 GREENBERG, CORINNE NEW YORK, NY CV Starr & Co Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2013-09-26 $1,600.00 BLOCH, JULIA MRS WASHINGTON, DC Starr Senior Fellow Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2013-11-12 $625.00 MATTHEWS, EDWARD PRINCETON, NJ CV Starr & Co Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2013-11-12 $625.00 LUNDQVIST, BERTIL NEW YORK, NY CV Starr & Co Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2013-11-12 $625.00 SMITH, HOWARD NEW YORK, NY CV Starr & Co Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2013-11-12 $625.00 GREENBERG, LAWRENCE NEW YORK, NY CV Starr & Co Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2012-05-02 $5,000.00 Starr Insurance Holdings Starr Insurance Holdings Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2012-05-02 $5,000.00 Starr Insurance Holdings Starr Insurance Holdings Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2012-03-16 $2,500.00 BLOCH, JULIA MRS WASHINGTON, DC Starr Senior Fellow Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2012-09-30 $2,500.00 GREENBERG, CORRINE NEW YORK, NY CV Starr & Co Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2012-05-10 $2,500.00 GREENBERG, MAURICE NEW YORK, NY CV Starr & Co Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2012-06-11 $1,000.00 STARR, KENNETH MR WACO, TX Baylor University Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2012-03-16 $1,000.00 BLOCH, JULIA MRS WASHINGTON, DC Starr Senior Fellow Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2012-05-10 $1,000.00 MATTHEWS, EDWARD PRINCETON, NJ CV Starr & Co Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2012-05-10 $1,000.00 SMITH, HOWARD NEW YORK, NY CV Starr & Co Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2012-05-10 $1,000.00 LUNDQUIST, BERTIL NEW YORK, NY CV Starr & Co Mitch McConnell (R)
Federal 2012-05-10 $1,000.00 GREENBERG, LAWRENCE NEW YORK, NY CV Starr & Co Mitch McConnell (R)

MSNBC ratings boom as ‘KSR Effect’ upends Kentucky Senate race

The numbers on last night’s cable news ratings are pretty staggering. Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio and Joe Sonka of InsiderLouisville were on MSNBC’s “The Last Word” to discuss Mitch McConnell’s unhinged performance on KSR yesterday morning and it seems the Big Blue Nation tuned in — big.

The Kentucky Sports Radio edition of MSNBC’s 10PM show resulted in nearly twice as many viewers on Wednesday night as they’d had on Monday night, and one and a half times the numbers from Tuesday. During the 10PM hour, the Jones/McConnell story helped MSNBC soundly defeat CNN in the nightly ratings war. (And that was despite CNN’s huge ratings coup with Mike Rowe’s new show as a lead in — people simply switched the channel at 10PM).

The Last Word’s 740,000 viewers represents a 230,000 increase for MSNBC over the previous night — and the real question here is how many of those extra 230,000 viewers were voters tuning in from the Big Blue Nation.

For some perspective, Lawrence O’Donnell’s show averaged 569,000 viewers in the 3rd Quarter of this year. On Monday night, the Last Word had 442,000 viewers — just 58,000 of them in the 25-54 demo.  On Tuesday night, the Last Word pulled 511,000 viewers.

To put this in some further perspective, FOX News enjoyed its best quarter ever over the last three months. Sean Hannity’s 10P show averages 1.6 million viewers. On Monday night, as on almost every night, Hannity nearly tripled MSNBC’s 10P ratings. On Tuesday he more than tripled MSNBC’s 10P ratings. But on Wednesday, opposite Matt Jones, Hannity only doubled MSNBC. That may not seem like a big deal, but in cable ratings world, that’s huge. More important to Kentucky, it may well indicate a significant number of Big Blue Nation viewers deciding that for one night, at least, they didn’t want to get “Hannitized.”

These KSR/MSNBC numbers also likely reflect the fact that large numbers of people who normally ignore politics and never watch cable news — decided to tune in.

Last night, with Kentucky Sports Radio’s Matt Jones (and Insider Louisville’s Joe Sonka) leading off the show to discuss Mitch McConnell’s truly weird and very angry appearance on KSR Wednesday morning, MSNBC’s ratings boomed, with nearly three times as many viewers in that key demo (and likely more, given that the ratings breakdown when added up doesn’t actually make demographic sense unless all the rest were under 25 — KSR broke the ratings system).

It’s just the latest example of the KSR Effect. Here’s the MSNBC interview, if you missed it (and judging by those numbers, it’s unlikely that you did):

(If you’re curious, the two of them are sitting in a tiny room and are being instructed by producers to attempt to look at each other — which is why the two shot is a bit uncomfortable and entirely hilarious.)

And here’s McConnell’s unhinged call in full where at times it seemed like he might be doing a Kentucky Joe impersonation:

As we discussed on Monday, it is well within the realm of possibility that the 6-point swing in the Kentucky Senate race that put Alison Lundergan Grimes ahead 2 bigguns was due not to her laughable gun ad but rather to the three weeks preceding during which Mitch McConnell was running scared from Matt Jones and Kentucky Sports Radio.

That cause/effect — otherwise known as the KSR Effect — would clearly explain Mitch McConnell’s bizarre decision to place a surprise call in to KSR on Wednesday morning.

After weeks of dodging the most listened to radio show in the Commonwealth, despite having given his word to appear on it, McConnell called Jones directly (rather than scheduling in advance and coming into the studio) demanding to be put on the air immediately. What followed was a surreal 13 minute interview (McConnell claims it’s been 30 minutes before abruptly hanging up) during which the Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate seems unhinged, screaming at the radio host over largely inoffensive questions. McConnell was pissed, and the whole state heard it.

If the KSR Effect that created the KSR Bump in last night’s MSNBC ratings is the same KSR Effect that caused the swing in the Senate race’s poll numbers, then there’s no telling how McConnell’s belligerent and simply rude behavior on the state’s most listened to radio show will effect the next poll.

The McConnell people spent today trying desperately to change the subject to Grimes’ largely lackluster streaming performance at the Courier Journal editorial board — but the simple fact is, no one was watching that.

Everyone was listening to KSR… and McConnell and his campaign team blew it. They should have just gone on when they promised they would — instead, they got burned for three weeks and then Mitch went on the air live and burned himself. Like so many political mistakes, it was entirely preventable, and simply stupid. What’s with the screaming?

If there’s an October surprise in this race, right now it’s the KSR Effect.

With six point swing, Grimes leads McConnell (also: guns, the KSR effect, and the 6th District)

McConnellGrimesSUSA

That is the latest SUSA poll result, leaked out this morning, and as you can see in that surging blue line, Alison Lundergan Grimes has picked up steam in the past month — or Mitch McConnell has lost it.

Grimes is up four, McConnell’s down two, Patterson lost two and the undecideds are now at seven rather than eight. It’s a six point swing for Grimes and while a series of other polls have shown her down but within the margin of error, her own internals have put her ahead and based on this, obviously she is.

Mitch McConnell has attempted at every single turn to tie Grimes to Obama but that strategy has a clear drawback: Mitch McConnell can’t run from himself. Mitch is inseparably tied to McConnell and Kentucky voters dislike Mitch (48% unfavorable, 35% favorable) and Barry (55% unfavorable, 29% favorable) in almost equal measure.

Some are crediting the poll results to Grimes absurd gun ad. That’s simplistic. The gun ad was followed very quickly by the re-emergence of Alison’s grandmother in an ad that personalized Alison and since then the Grimes camp has been on a tear, releasing so many ads one week that the McConnell aligned Kentucky Opportunity Coalition dark money group claimed it was evidence that she was “flailing” — despite the fact that the KOC dropped more ads than ALG in the week after that “flailing” claim. In fact, while Grimes has been concentrated in releasing a series of ads, it is the McConnell team that’s been flailing and these results may also reflect a voter fatigue as every single commercial break is loaded down with McConnell ads and ads from his supporting outside billionaire-funded groups… all of them reminding voters how overwhelmingly tired they are of the very unlikeable Mitch McConnell.

Another precipitating event that’s been unfolding over the past month? Alison Lundergan Grimes appearance on Kentucky Sports Radio three weeks ago. Since Grimes went on the state’s most listened to radio show and actually answered questions for possibly the first time in the entire campaign, her numbers have gone up. At the same time, over this same period, Mitch McConnell has taken a beating not for any of his political positions but rather for his refusal to be a man of his word. McConnell agreed to go on KSR but has now spent three weeks running from Matt Jones and the single largest audience in the state. For thousands upon thousands of Kentuckians who aren’t particularly political one way or another, Mitch McConnell is broadcasting himself as a liar who is not a man of his word and who refuses to speak to actual Kentucky voters. Mitch McConnell and his campaign have done that to themselves — all they had to do was keep their promise, instead, they’re getting roasted for running away. They’re afraid Mitch will blunder badly under actual questioning, but they’re bigger blunder has been to go back on their word.

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The McConnell campaign is calling this new poll “an outlier” because the previous polls had the results essentially inverted. They can call the poll whatever they want and so can the Grimes people but what is clear, has been clear and will likely remain clear is that this is a tight race and will, barring a surprise, end up separated by only a few percentage points either way.

That’s part of why the Grimes campaign and heavy state donors and many powerful national groups have made to this point a serious tactical error in not doing more to activate the voters of Kentucky’s 6th District Congressional race. At an event last Thursday in downtown Lexington, for example, Grimes spoke just minutes after the Democratic 6th District candidate Elisabeth Jensen but made not one single public statement about the importance of supporting both their candidacies. Big donors have been getting squeezed by everyone and the fact that some Democratic candidates for Governor next year have been siphoning off money in this district is further evidence of the tactical mistake in the Democratic Party — and while the homophobic candidacy of Andy Beshear can pat itself on the back for taking a record haul for a down ticket race next year, all his daddy’s friends who are opening their wallets are passing up a far more important opportunity in central Kentucky.

The point here is not that ignoring the 6th District Congressional race is itself a massive oversight (though it may well be), but that ignoring it could ultimately help Mitch McConnell pull out a victory. Grimes needs to trounce McConnell in the 6th District. Barr is currently polling well ahead of Jensen in part because he has about a billion times more money — Andy Barr is getting massive support from predatory payday lenders, shady investment firms and Too Big To Fail Banks, and Jensen’s getting small donations from actual voters while the big money folks who are pouring cash into the Grimes campaign (and races that won’t happen for another year) are sitting this one out, in some foolish self-fulfilling prophecy.

The problem with that is that if Grimes ends up losing by 1%, 2% or 3% and Jensen loses by 6%, 7% or 8%… then all the Smart Guys who made their “smart” analysis to sit out the Sixth… will have no one but themselves to blame.

Time’s a wasting. Grimes can win without Jensen, but every point Jensen gets closer to Barr moves Alison closer to beating Mitch. If you want Grimes to win, then you want Jensen to win.

There’s no good reason not to support Elisabeth Jensen. She’s working hard, good on the stump, and right on all the issues. The only reason not to? If you just don’t care about the results of the Kentucky Senate race.

Ignore the 6th District if you like, but you do so at your own peril.