Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Matt Bevin to Play Gatsby!

The latest McConnell attack ad on Matt Bevin does the most damage so far with the revelation that Bevin falsely claimed on his LinkedIn profile that he had received a degree from M.I.T. -- like Jay Gatsby claimed he went to Oxford.

The Hill contacted M.I.T., which says that Bevin was never enrolled there. Bevin then changed his LinkedIn profile to read that his education includes the "School of Life." Whatever that is.

Bevin's campaign released a copy of the "Certificate of Recognition" -- not diploma -- that Bevin says he received from the "EO/Entrepreneurial Masters Program"in 2008.  The "Certificate of Recognition" includes the M.I.T. logo.

"Certificate of Recognition"?  This sounds like something my kids received for participating in U-6 soccer. The reference to the "Masters Program," on the other hand, plainly connotes an M.B.A.

 Bevin describes the programs as located on the M.I.T. "Endicott Campus."  M.I.T. does not have an "Endicott Campus," according to the  M.I.T. spokesperson interviewed by the The Hill -- just a building called Endicott. So if those individuals who put this program on had met at a Starbuck's near M.I.T., that would have been the M.I.T. "Starbuck's Campus."

Bevin's campaign contends that McConnell is "childish" to criticize Bevin for lying about where he went to school. Apparently the theory is that lots of people puff up their resumes, so who cares? This, of course, impugns the integrity of those voters Bevin is attempting to court.

There are two distinct aspects to any resume, the subjective and objective.  There may be room for puffery in the subjective -- perhaps exaggerating one's contribution to a project at work.  These are the parts of a resume, or LinkedIn profile, with which people can legitimately disagree, because it is a matter of opinion and oftentimes unquantifiable.  But that's not what happened with Bevin.

Where Bevin received his education is not subjective. It is an objectively verifiable fact -- one that M.I.T. has soundly refuted.  Bevin has crossed the line from truthiness to deceitfulness

What's truly bizarre about Bevin's assertion that he was educated at M.I.T. is that he went to a very good university, Washington and Lee.  Why make stuff up when you have a degree of which most people would be justifiably proud?

As fine a school as Washington and Lee is,  I can't think of any movies set there. In contrast, Good Will Hunting was set at M.I.T.  Maybe Matt Bevin was channelling another Matt who became a star on the set at M.I.T.:  Matt Damon.

Or perhaps the answer lies in another part of Bevin's background he doesn't discuss much.  Bevin attended a New England prep school, just like Ryan O'Neil in Love Story.  Now, the Preppy in Love Story went on to Harvard, but hey, M.I.T. is just down the road and those students are allowed to join the Harvard Coop and row crew on the Charles.  The point here is that New England prep schools like Bevin's alma mater, the Gould Academy in Maine, survive because parents see them as pathways to places like Harvard and M.I.T.  Parents aren't paying the $49,500 a year just for the competitive skiing and snow-boarding.

Students in  prep schools like Gould, particularly in New England, must feel a certain pressure to get into schools like M.I.T. In that respect, I get why M.I.T. would have held an irresistible allure for Bevin.

The Gould Academy lists Matt Bevin as a "notable" alum for being a "Businessman and candidate in Kentucky's 2014 Senate Election." After The Hill  put the lie Bevin's M.I.T. education, I bet the Bevin campaign let Gould Academy know about his candidacy -- makes it easier for us skeptics to see whether that part of his education actually occurred.  Memo to the Gould Academy:  Bevin will have to defeat Mitch McConnell in a primary before he will be a candidate in Kentucky's 2014 Senate Election. Might want to correct that notable alum link to state that he's a candidate in the Republican primary of U.S. Senate.

In the meantime, Bevin's M.I.T. charade makes me think of two Kentuckians who desperately wanted to attend M.I.T. next month and did not get in, despite perfect scores on the ACT.  I think of those two Kentuckians and any and every child who did not get into his first choice school, and who felt his heart sink at receiving a skinny envelope with a rejection letter instead of the fat envelope with the course catalogue.

As adults, we should encourage students that they can be not just successful but fabulous without admission to M.I.T. or whatever the dream school was.  The last thing we want to say, or model, is no worries; you can attend a bogus seminar there and still put it on your resume.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Congress Exempts Self From Obamacare Exchange?

This just sickens me with disappointment and disgust.  That deal Obama negotiated to exempt Members of Congress and staff from the Obamacare Exchange -- and the big price increase -- was a bipartisan deal.

How could Republicans have been so politically tone-deaf?  So elitist? So detached from the fact that their constituents will soon be suffering under Obamacare, while their elected leaders cut themselves a deal to be exempt?

Sen. David Vitter gets it, but he seems to be the only one.  Writing for the D.C. Examiner,

After intense and, sadly, bipartisan lobbying and scheming in Washington, the Obama administration announced that it is creating out of thin air a special rule to ease the pain of Obamacare -- for Washington only.

You see, a specific provision of the Obamacare law says that all Members of Congress and their staffs have to procure their health care coverage on the Obamacare Exchange, just like tens of millions of Americans. This was causing mounting fear and loathing in Washington because it threatened real disruption and significantly increased expenses. No problem, the new administration rule fixes that and ensures that a huge, special taxpayer-funded subsidy will follow the ruling class to the Obamacare Exchange to take any sting out.

Even worse, as Vitter points out, is that Congress and its staff will get a taxpayer-funded subsidy of $5,000 for individuals or $10,000 for families.  It['s not just that Congress won't be able to "feel our pain;" we are paying for them to enjoy that privilege. 
It's like we are living in the Hunger Games: life is better in the Capitol.  Or as Vitter put it, 
this is exactly what America hates most about Washington. Washington constantly treats itself better, exempts itself from the laws it imposes on middle-class Americans, and thus sets itself up as a privileged ruling class.
It is one thing for Republicans to disagree about whether the symbolism of a vote to defund Obamacare is worth the political fallout of shutting down the government.  The reality is that until Republicans control the Senate and have a veto proof majority in the House, we cannot repeal Obamacare.  There is a broad consensus among Republicans that Obamacare must go; the disagreement is about the tactics to  to accomplish that goal.

It is quite another, however, for Republicans to join Democrats in insulating themselves from the pain that this foolish law will inflict on the rest of us.  Worse yet, this deal was not subject to a vote. Not only is there the lack of accountability due to the lack of a vote, it feels undemocratic -- particularly since the Affordable Care Act specifically provided that Members of Congress would be subject to it.  The deal, in essence, repeals a little tiny portion of Obamacare, but does so without a vote.

Congress should be subject to the laws it passes. Even the really stupid laws, like Obamacare.  It's that simple.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Matt Bevin Lacked an Invite?

Matt Bevin tells Pure Politics that the reason he didn't attend any of the Republics events leading up to Fancy Farm is that no one invited him.

Memo to Matt:  the Friday night dinner and the Saturday morning breakfast were posted on the RPK website. (Perhaps you've heard of it? The "R" stands for Republican.) Tickets were available at the door.  The dinner was so loosely structured that several speakers, stage legislators, were asked to speak only upon their arrival.

More than 400 people made it to the breakfast. Even the Lamestream Media.  The point here is not just to hear the speakers but to meet the people who actually get out the vote, all over the state.

Sen,  Rand Paul has said, many times, that he could not have won but for the rank and file Republicans who backed him in the general election. I don't see Bevin making it to the general in this race, but he is a young man; there could be other races. And to that end he ought to stop waiting for an engraved invitation to party events for which us common folk look to the party web site.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fancy Farm Pictures

Senator McConnell and Secretary Chao

"George Washington"

A group of McConnell supporters

Team Mitch

McConnell supporters chanting for the repeal of Obamacare

Fancy Farm 2013

The Courier-Journal overstated the number of McConnell supporters who rode on buses.  In the first place, four, not five buses were planned; if there was a fifth, it was likely due to overflow -- a good problem for Team Mitch.  Secondly, roughly half of the Republicans present did not ride the bus.  A fair number who drove separately did leave after listening to Matt Bevin, but not because their ride was pulling out.  More out of disgust or indifference.

The Democrats who came were mostly dressed in chartreuse union shirts.  Not only were there way less Democrats than Republicans, the Democrats were quite a bit older.

Tackiest moment of the whole day:  when the Democrats booed former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.  Democrats wage a war on women, they just pick and choose who to go after.  Apparently an American success story, who immigrated here at age eight, speaking no English, graduated from Harvard Business school and was appointed to serve our president in the cabinet, that's the sort of women Democrats want to wage war on, because she has the gall to step off the Feminist reservation and think for herself.

The speeches generally were geared to minimize gaffes.  Every speaker was very aware that their opponent would like nothing better than to seize upon a clip for a future opposition ad.  Rule changes similarly reduced the antics of Fancy Forms of yore.  For example, the rule that prohibits props -- that stems from McConnell bringing a giant cut-out of Bill Clinton on stage and daring any Democratic candidate to come have a picture taken with Bill. (Stupidly, one did, resulting in the election of Congressman Ed Whitfield.)

McConnell's speech correctly framed his election in national terms:  it is not about who represents Kentucky in the U.S. Senate but rather who runs the Senate.  He's right about that.   If Alision Lundergan Grimes wins, Harry Reid will almost certainly be Majority Leader.  And if Matt Bevin wins the primary, AL-G will win the general, again making Harry Reid Majority Leader.  We saw what happened in the first two years of the Obama administration, when Dems controlled the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.  That's when they muscled through Obamacare (without even reading the bill prior to the Christmas Eve vote).  We cannot allow them to control the Congress. Because McConnell has been the firewall in the Senate, his defeat is the Democrats number one priority this election cycle.

Grimes's speech was much uglier than I had expected.  For all her talk about not wanting to be bullied, she is a mean girl.  Elaine Chao shook her head in disgust as Grimes misrepresented McConnell's record.  Note to Grimes:  saying no to a bad idea is called wisdom and courage.  The teenager who tells his car mates that it's not a good idea to race the train could be called an obstructionist. He could also be called a hero.  McConnell has stood up to the train wreck that is Obamacare from its inception, as he has stood up to all the other steps Obama would take to turn us into Greece.

As far as the other speeches by elected officials, Ed Whitfield's was outstanding.  He methodically attacked the Obama administration's war on coal and tied Grimes to it. He's right. Grimes's personal views about coal are beside the point, because if she is elected, Harry Reid will be able to bring regulations to the Senate floor that will cripple what is left of Kentucky's coal industry.

Jack Conway's speech, to my mind, was the worst.  Recall that the No Profanity Rule at Fancy Farm was instituted because Jack Conway at a previous Fancy Farm boasted that he was "one tough son of a bitch."  Not real genteel for a church picnic.  Conway didn't curse this time, he just boasted.  He lauded his record ad nauseum  Clearly he is running for governor.  And clearly, he is a narcissist of the highest order.  He also looked angry; still bitter not be be a U.S. Senator, maybe.

Matt Bevin's speech came second to last. Remaining Republicans from Team Mitch sat in polite but stony silence at first and then began to quietly leave.  Plainly, Bevin is a smart, articulate guy.  His few supporters (maybe two dozen)  shook cow bells that Bevin's Connecticut company made -- the one that took the bailout.  This was in violation of the Fancy Farm rule, announced at the beginning, and not particularly effective.  Bevin, like Grimes, pulled no punches in attacking McConnell.  At one point, he appealed to the Democrats to applaud his attacks on McConnell, saying "we're on the same page here."  (Note to Republicans: remember that line.)  Democrats mostly seemed unconvinced.

The net effect of the combined attacks on McConnell by Grimes and Bevin reminded me of Goldilocks and the Three Bears:  one bed was too long, one bed was too short, but the third bed was just right. Grimes complained that McConnell was too right wing and Bevin complained that McConnell was not right wing enough.

As best I could tell, the only Democrat who spoke to mention the name Obama was some crank at the end who is challenging Grimes in the primary.  For all the other Democrats, Obama was He Who Must Not Be Named.  What a pity McConnell couldn't bring a cardboard cutout of Obama on stage for the Democrats to come be photographed.