A Poor Choice of Words: Hordes of Hispanic Children, Lazy American Workers, and a Whites Only Country Club

A Democratic consultant’s racist tweet is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to racism in Kentucky politics, and the Republican Party of Kentucky should be more careful casting stones — unless, of course, they have an ulterior motive.

A former candidate for State Senate who six years later continues to claim that her 2008 loss was due to voter fraud, conspiracy and scandal is a perhaps odd person to hire as a “Democratic consultant” but that’s Kathy Groob and over the weekend as the Fancy Farm festivities got underway, Groob took to Twitter to attack Mitch McConnell’s wife for being “Asian.”

After sending the obviously racist tweet and receiving an obvious, unanimous and scornful backlash from literally everyone, Groob demonstrated her “consultant” skills and went into crisis management mode in which she consulted herself and then based on the advice of her consultant tweeted out an idiotic non-apology “for a poor choice of words” which is not in any way the same as expressing remorse or sincerity. Then she promptly deleted her twitter account.

Republicans ever since — including the Republican Party of Kentucky and that national GOP – have been latching onto this sad and stupid event to show that all Kentucky Democrats are racist and to wonder wonderingly when Kentucky Dems will condemn what Groob said — which is moronic since Groob was condemned by all sides immediately.

The whole saga is a shame. What Groob said was shameful and the Republican response is shameful — Republicans who push this story as though anyone is backing or defending Groob or that her sentiments are shared by anyone of any standing should be ashamed of themselves for spending what’s apparently valuable time peddling so stupid a story.

To be clear, there are lots of things one could say against Elaine Chao. She was the Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush over an 8 year period that — even before the collapse of the economy — saw middle class wages plunge and middle class savings hit lows they hadn’t seen since right after the Great Depression. Her tenure as Secretary of Labor is like a Rick Astley greatest hits album, each highlight more awful than the last, all of them a simple variation on one really terrible song.

The fact that Elaine Chao is “Asian” is completely irrelevant to whatever positions she may hold on free trade, just as it is with Mitch McConnell. Mitch has been lobbying for and protecting trade and currency policies that are deferential to the Chinese for over two decades, since before he was married to Elaine. Mitch isn’t Asian, he’s from Alabama. Being Asian isn’t a prerequisite for being wrong about a China policy that systematically ships US jobs overseas (hell, over half the world’s population is “Asian” and the vast majority of them live in abject poverty and are being wildly exploited by the very people who push the style of free trade McConnell has spent the past twenty years advocating).

Mitch McConnell’s deeply held convictions on trade with China aren’t a product of his relationship with his second wife, they’re just something the two of them have in common, something they can discuss over candlelit dinners when the glow of two decades of marriage dims just a bit and they want to re-ignite that fire. Mitch McConnell simply believes that the bleeding out of American jobs to China (and other places) is good policy — “it’s not a huge problem,” he told the Kentucky Post.

And the fact that he’s Alabamian has nothing to do with his activist approach to blocking US action on China’s currency manipulation and protecting China’s trade interests at the expense of Kentucky workers. It would obviously be unfair to suggest that all Alabamians think exporting US jobs is good policy.

With that said… the Kentucky Republican Party is delighting in the chance to say Democrats are racist. They’re demanding that people denounce Kathy Groob (which again, has already been done), but where is there outrage for their own kind?

Who among the Kentucky Republican Party is denouncing the members of the Kentucky Republican Party?

Let’s start with Mitch McConnell. At Fancy Farm on Saturday, around the same time Groob was on twitter, Mitch McConnell referred to the small, young, helpless children who have been sent fleeing from their violence-torn small towns in Central America as “hordes.”

Now, you might think that using the term “horde” to describe a group of helpless children is totally fine… but if you do, you’re probably a racist. That is a racist, demeaning, xenophobic and fear-mongering way for Mitch McConnell to refer to helpless children. Does it rile up the Republican base? Yes! Does it play to their fears, their anger, and their racism? Yes it does. Sure, you may say, a horde is just a large group of people and that’s true but its meaning by any reputable dictionary is derogatory.

Who is admonishing Mitch McConnell for his derogatory attack on a group of helpless children? Or was it just a poor choice of words?

And then there’s this — does this quote seem an overly broad generalization of a group of people based on their nationality:

“American employees must be punctual, dress appropriately and have good personal hygiene. They need anger-management and conflict-resolution skills, and they have to be able to accept direction. Too many young people bristle when a supervisor asks them to do something.”

American workers are poorly dressed, unshowered and really angry. And they don’t follow directions. Got it.

Will the Kentucky Republican Party disavow those sentiments? Or were they just a poor choice of words?

Or… hey, what about Hal Rogers.

Congressman Rogers gave a speech at a dinner in 2011 which made news because of Hal’s racist joke about Chinese people:

The Appropriations Committee chairman went on to describe a dinner with “the Chinese ambassador, who spoke broken English but was trying to impress his staff with his knowledge of the U.S.” (Rogers didn’t specify which ambassador; China has sent three different envoys to D.C. over the past decade.)

The diplomat told his staff that they needed to know how to pronouce the name of the city where the Kentucky Derby is held, said Rogers:“‘It’s not Roo-ee-ville, it’s Roo-uh-ville.’”

Get it? It’s funny because Chinese people are stupid and don’t speak our language! Very funny, Hal Rogers. Very funny.

Rogers’ spokesman called it “an unfortunate attempt at humor” which is a nice way of saying “That was really racist, Hal regrets his poor choice of words.”

Or… you know what, what about Garland H. Barr IV? Yes, dear old Congressman Andy Barr and his family are members of the Idle Hour Country Club which until 2010 — TWO THOUSAND AND TEN!!!! — was a WHITES ONLY establishment. Black people, Asians and Hispanics… all excluded.

What did Andy Barr say about belonging to entirely segregated country club 145 years after the end of the Civil War?

“My family has been a member for a long time,” Barr said. “It’s not an issue. It should not be an issue. I’m a member of a lot of organizations in Central Kentucky. I was born and raised in Central Kentucky. And I love my community.”

It’s not an issue? Yeah, right. Maybe not to you, Garland. And since when is “loving your community” an acceptable cover for belonging to a racist organization?

When will the Kentucky Republican Party admonish Andy? When will they disavow him? When Andy said that his membership in a racist organization “should not be an issue” was that just a poor choice of words?

The list could go on. For G-d’s sake, Rand Paul opposes the Civil Rights Act and employed a guy nicknamed the “Southern Avenger” who paraded around in a confederate flag mask!

So it’s more than a little ridiculous for the Republican Party of Kentucky to harp on this Kathy Groob incident. The more they do, the more they are asking for any of the above issues to be raised, and they probably don’t want to fight those fights. (Perhaps it’s too late.)

And in fact, that’s possibly what this is all about. The Kentucky Republican Party is rich with racism (see above; would rather not continue) so Groob’s idiotic, racist and reprehensible tweet was a great event for the RPK. It allows them a rare opportunity to be on the other end of “cultural sensitivity.” It has less to do with any particular opposition to racism (again, see above), and more to do with a chance to feel better about their own entrenched racism… because, see, the other side is racist, too!

And it’s true. There’s a lot of racism out there, there’s a lot of stupidity. The Kentucky Republican Party highlighting the propensity for racism within Kentucky politics does neither the state nor their Party any favors, but perhaps it does do a public service in reminded us all how far we still have to go.

Cabanas, Conspiracies and Horse Torture in Kentucky’s Republican Party

Kentucky’s 1st District Republican Congressman, Ed Whitfield, is having a tough go of it lately — so he’s trying to raise his own spirits with a glitzy Hollywood party!

Whitfield is under a House Ethics Investigation for his relationship with a lobbyist — and has another big ethics problem swirling around a real estate deal. Let’s start with the land deal!

An excellent report from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting last month revealed a tangled web between Rep. Whitfield, his wife and a second woman, Juanita Duggan, a national known lobbyist. The threesome bought plot of land in the exclusive Greenbrier complex in West Virgina but didn’t disclose the deal. Among Duggan’s many clients are those who have business before the House Energy Committee, on which Ed Whitfield sits. The whole sordid affair is intriguing and includes Congressman Ed’s wife yelling at reporters on the phone and disgraced lobbyist (is there another kind?) Jack Abramoff calling the whole thing a bit beyond the pale  – if you haven’t, read it in full.

The other problem, which is now being investigated by the House Ethics Committee, involves Ed and his wife — his wife being a lobbyist in her own right. And on this, Ed Whitfield says, there is a conspiracy. Ed claims that supporters of the horse torturing practice known as soring have pushed this ethics complaint in a desperate ploy to disrupt Whitfield’s bill that would ban the horse torturing practice of soring. Here’s Ed’s take:

Whitfield denied that his wife had lobbied him on the issue, saying his interest in curtailing soring predated her involvement with the Humane Society of the United States, one of the most prominent interest groups backing the PAST Act. Connie Whitfield is a “policy adviser” with the group.

In a statement, Whitfield listed numerous individuals associated with the Performance Show Horse Association that he said brought the complaint to poison the atmosphere for the act, which had been rapidly gaining political momentum. The bill is co-sponsored by 305 members of the House and 57 in the Senate.

Whitfield’s attempts to rein in horse torture via his PAST Act are commendable. In a Congress in which absolutely nothing gets done and certainly not with any sort of broad bipartisan support, Whitfield has cobbled together 305 co-sponsors for his anti-horse torture bill.

And yet… the pro-horse torture Representatives and Senators have gone a long way to block the bill from any official vote. In the House of Representatives, Whitfield’s bill is being blocked by the  pro-horse torture caucus which is led by Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and includes Kentucky Republicans Hal Rogers and Andy Barr. In the Senate, the pro-horse torture caucus is lead by Mitch McConnell, who has pledged to defend the torturous act of soring and keep the bill from ever receiving a vote. (see below)

This puts Whitfield in an odd spot. The friends and supporters of his fellow Kentucky Republican delegation are conspiring to destroy him. On the one hand, you have Ed Whitfield. On the other… horse torturers and their powerful supporters — which included Mitch McConnell and Andy Barr.

When you’re having a tough time, sometimes you just want to hole up and wallow. But not Ed Whitfield. No, instead, the ethics-troubled Congressman is throwing a party. And you are invited:

Weekend in Beverly Hills


Congressman Ed Whitfiled Weekend in Beverly Hills, August 8-10 in Beverly Hills, CA

Suggested contribution to Thoroughbred PAC: $3,000 per PAC / $1,500 per individual

Activities include:

  • Private Friday evening welcome reception at the polo lounge at the Beverily Hills Hotel
  • Optional Friday evening post-dinner drinks on site
  • Saturday reserved cabana by the pool
  • Saturday night dinner.


A cabana? Optional post-dinner drinks? You don’t even have to stay and listen to Ed and his lobbyist friends get drunk and blab about stuff — that’s optional? This sounds like an awesome, awesome party.

Here’s the pool and the cabanas, which feature complimentary soft serve ice cream and mojito pops! More at the Beverly Hills Hotel website:

Swimming Pool_4

Thoroughbred PAC is Ed Whitfield’s leadership fundraising committee. Beyond organizing to raise money for Ed, Whitfield himself uses funds to dole out to other Republicans to help lobby them toward his opinions. Among its contributors are Koch Industries and curiously among its recipients… $4,500 to 6th District Rep. Andy Barr, who is working actively, hand in hand with the anti-Ed conspirators, to block Whitfield’s horse torture bill. [here, here]

The Kentucky Republican Party is one crowded barn full of some crazy horses — some of whom apparently like to torture each other.





After Doing Nothing, Andy Barr Goes on Vacation

It’s August 2014. Andy Barr’s been in office since January 2013 — 19 months. That’s one month for every single vote he’s already cast to repeal, revoke and remove the health insurance coverage that over 400,000 Kentuckians are now able to afford.

Andy Barr: 19 months, 19 votes to repeal the absolute tyranny of this map:


That’s Andy Barr. That’s his campaign — Taking Kentucky backwards and ripping health insurance cards right out of the hands of struggling families and young professionals.

But what else has Andy Barr “done”? Apparently, not so much. Barr and the rest of the “Do Nothing Congress” wrapped up their “work” on Friday and are now on recess for the next five weeks. While Barr has pursued (with no great effect) busied himself doing the bidding of his special interest donors, pushing to repeal consumer protections and other boutique issues, Barr and the rest of Congress have failed to take any meaningful action on wages, fair pay, job creation, or even our ongoing long-term unemployment problem.

Yesterday, Barr’s opponent Elisabeth Jensen hit Andy on this front. In a statement, Jensen said:

“Hard working Kentucky families are struggling with too few jobs, stagnant wages, rising college costs and a sense that no one in Washington is serious about solving our problems – and now Congressman Barr is taking a month long break,” said Elisabeth Jensen. “All Congressman Barr is doing in Washington is looking out for himself – from abusing his taxpayer funded perks, to wasting our tax dollars on his campaign style mailers. As Congressman Barr returns to Kentucky with no progress made on the issues that matter to us, Kentucky residents have one message: we’re fed up with the dysfunctional politics that Congressman Barr is practicing in Washington, and we’re ready for a new representative who will get results for working families.”

Harsh words, but not entirely accurate! Because, in fact, Andy Barr did do something meaningful in Congress recently — he voted to waste taxpayer dollars suing the President of the United States for doing what President’s have always done (and will always continue to do).

The lawsuit against Obama is an egregious waste of time and money, being conducted solely for political purposes with no actionable or functional end goal — and Andy Barr voted for it. The Courier Journal’s editorial board slammed Barr for this vote over the weekend:

The worst do-nothing Congress in memory prepared last week for a nice, long five-week summer break, having accomplished very little.

But the House managed one dubious accomplishment — Republicans, largely on a party-line vote, decided to sue President Barack Obama on the grounds he isn’t implementing Obamacare fast enough.

This is the same outfit that fought the Affordable Care Act tooth and nail, voted repeatedly and ineffectually to repeal it and continues to demonize the plan helping millions of Americans get health insurance. The GOP must have dug down really, really deep to to come up with that as the sole bit of supposed evidence that the president is exceeding his authority.

….Sadly, four of Kentucky’s six congressmen are on the wrong side, having voted to authorize the lawsuit. They are Republican Reps. Andy Barr, 6th District; Brett Guthrie, 2nd District; Hal Rogers, 5th District; and Ed Whitfield, 1st District.

Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat who represents Louisville’s 3rd District, voted against it. Interestingly, he was joined by Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, 4th District, who voted no, saying it’s not worth the cost or effort, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Perhaps Andy Barr is upset that Kynect and the ACA haven’t been implemented fast enough because had it been, there’d be even more insured people for Andy Barr to kick to the curb. Perhaps Andy Barr takes a sick pleasure in hurting Kentucky families and taking health insurance away from Kentucky families.

In the 6th District, only Andy Barr will put a stop to this tyranny:


Andy Barr tells Kentucky to take their insurance and shove it:

In #KY6, Jensen picks up another big endorsement while Barr keeps his on the hush-and-hush

In the 6th District Congressional race, a couple big endorsements!

Elisabeth Jensen, who already has the endorsement of the Teamsters, the UFCW, and the AFGE unions, picked up another key endorsement, this time from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees who are giving Jensen their “enthusiastic support.” From the Jensen camp:

Elisabeth and all of Team Jensen are proud to stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers working to build a stronger Kentucky.

Andy Barr on the other hand picked up the endorsement of the National Association of Predatory Pay Day Lenders. Rather than put it in a press release, these Predators put their endorsement in cold hard cash. The pay day lending industry’s contributions to the Andy Barr campaign make clear that while Jensen is the candidate for workers, Barr is the candidate for guys who make a living ripping off single moms, struggling families, and all too often, America’s veterans. We’ll have more on Andy’s predatory cash-flow soon.

Apparently Mitch McConnell didn’t kill enough coal jobs as the coal miners who are left endorsed Alison Grimes

Mitch McConnell may be a friend of coal executives, but Alison Lundergan Grimes is apparently the true friend of coal miners.

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) has endorsed Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky’s Senate race, despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s attempts to paint her as an enemy of coal.

In a statement, UMWA said Grimes has proven herself to be a coal advocate.

“Ms. Grimes is not only a strong supporter of coal and the coal industry,” UMWA President Cecil Roberts said in the Saturday statement.

“She is the only candidate in this race who is also a supporter of coal miners. She cares about their health and safety on the job. She cares about what happens to them once they retire after a career of dangerous, backbreaking work,” Roberts said. “She cares about what happens to their families, and what can be done to make their communities stronger.”

Here’s Mitch McConnell’s coal miner record:

Mitch McConnell's been killing the coal industry for three decades!

Mitch McConnell’s been killing the coal industry for three decades!

If Mitch McConnell could just get one or two more terms in office, there’d be no more coal miners left to endorse his opponents.

Is He “OK”? Mitch McConnell, Comedian or Gaffe Machine? (Dumb fun with dumb video.)

Today in the Kentucky Senate race the Grimes campaign continues to call out Mitch McConnell for his long history of opposition to the Violence Against Women Act and for his terrible three decade track record on jobs and the economy. Meanwhile, the McConnell campaign is beside itself with glee that a person who speaks to one crowd after the next got her words mildly mixed up and said to put a bumper sticker in a yard.

McConnell’s campaign staff and totally uncoordinated team-members present this video, recorded by the Republican Party, as though it is proof that Alison Lundergan Grimes is not only a lost cause who’s unfit for office but also seem to suggest Alison may have some sort of health problem. Like this:

Obviously bumper stickers aren’t made to go on lawns — that would be yard signs. Confusing the two in the middle of a speech is unfortunate, but it’s hardly a sign (or sticker) of incompetence. Incompetence would be an inability to figure out how to take a bumper sticker, which is covered on one side with a strong adhesive substance, and stick it to a blade of grass. Why would you do that? I have no idea. But if you wanted to do that, it’s not like it would be difficult. Unless there was something wrong with you.

Anyway. This latest “gaffe” and all the attention it’s getting from Team Mitch and all the very important questions it raises about Alison’s health and ability to serve in the US Senate serves up a good opportunity to wonder the exact same about Mitch McConnell.

Is Mitch McConnell a gaffe machine? Is he a comedian? A performance artist? Or… is there something we need to know? Is Mitch McConnell “OK”?

Here’s Mitch telling a terrible joke that’s so terrible he tells it twice. It’s not funny, two people laugh, but Mitch seems terribly amused. Is there something wrong with Mitch McConnell?

Here’s Mitch falling over! Is there something wrong with Mitch? Is he really still fit for office? Or is this his attempt at slapstick?

Here’s Mitch McConnell in 2010 referring to 2008 as 1968. Seriously. He seems to be lost in time. Is Mitch McConnell okay? Can he really be trusted to represent Kentucky when he makes gaffes like these? Or is he making a highfalutin joke about time that belongs in a New Yorker cartoon?

Here’s Mitch McConnell at the 1968 2008 Republican convention. Watch as he stands in bewildered silence before a crowd of thousands, seemingly lost in his own skin. What is wrong with Mitch McConnell? Or is that Andy Kaufman?

Here’s Mitch telling series of terrible jokes including one about how he likes to talk down to the lowly people who serve him butter, but it begins with an even more terrible moment in which Mitch McConnell calls Barbara Bush a bitch. Is there something wrong with Mitch McConnell? Is he unwell? Or just unfunny?

For a campaign that’s spent the past two months complaining about how Mitch McConnell “misspoke” when he told the Beattyville Enterprise that it’s “not his job” to bring jobs to Kentucky, it’s telling that this “gaffe” from Grimes has got Team Mitch so fired up. Look at what they’re working with.

You can almost see the next McConnell TV ad. Mitch sitting next to some random voter who plaintively asks: “Alison, why’d you say to put bumper stickers on my lawn?”

Weighty stuff.