Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield announced earlier today that he is retiring from the Congressional seat he has occupied since 1995. Agriculture Commissioner Jamie Comer is said to be announcing his candidacy tomorrow for Kentucky's First Congressional District.
Comer fell 83 votes short of becoming the Republican nominee for governor earlier this year.
I freely admit I did not see coming the Republican Governors' Association's decision to stop running ads on behalf of Matt Bevin.
My sense is that the race is tight, so I don't think the RGA has abandoned him as a lost cause. Rather, I think that Bevin's fundraising numbers must be bad.
RGA has the money, and almost no other races this year. But the national party organizations like to see the candidate raising his or her own funds rather than waiting for the national money to pour in. The RGA money is sort of like a matched donation in that sense.
Bevin made a big point at the GLI lunch that he would not be beholden to anyone. This rugged independence may be why he hasn't been very aggressive on the fundraising front.
For example, Bevin did not reach out to the big donors one would expect to get a call the day after the primary election until an inexplicable amount of time had passed. There have been a spate of fundraisers for him recently, but it is rather late to be just now asking for contributions.
Jack Conway is in many respects the complete opposite. All he does is fundraise. It's a way to make the campaign look like it's doing stuff without actually mixing with the great unwashed. Apparently Conway doesn't even like to mix with the big donors; at a recent fundraiser, Conway had to be prodded to get up and work the room of major donors. Not a people person, that Conway.
Bevin has the luxury of being able to self-fund. Not only is the guy rich, the vast majority of his personal fortune is said to be liquid. He needs to write his campaign a big check, stat. Then I would expect the RGA to go back on the air.
Monday, September 28, 2015
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not have the votes to achieve much. As a result the base is angry and frustrated -- directly leading to the rise of Donald Trump. Talk radio, in particular Hugh Hewitt, are pressuring McConnell to use the "nuclear option" to get rid of the filibuster. That would allow Republicans to pass legislation with a bare majority, rather than the 60 vote super-majority now required to end a filibuster with a cloture vote.
McConnell wisely resits the pressure to nuke the filibuster because he recognizes that it has protected conservative principles by allowing Republicans to block terrible legislation, such as union card check. McConnell's concerns are well-placed, given that Republicans have only had more than 55 votes in the Senate once in the last century. If history is any guide, Republicans will need the protection of filibuster. Republicans should take the long view on this issue.
McConnell is also correctly concerned about the Senate as an institution. As George Washington explained, the Senate is tea saucer that cools and slows down the hot water sloshing out of the tea cup: the House of Representatives. Does the filibuster slow things down? Yes; it's supposed to.
But the anger among Republicans is real; it is wide as well as deep. McConnell needs to acknowledge that fact and modulate accordingly.
I'm no expert on Senate procedure. However, it seems to me that Republicans can use the reconciliation process -- which only requires 51 votes -- to send a bill to Obama that keeps the government from shutting down. Attach to that a rider that defunds Planned Parenthood. By using the reconciliation process, there is no filibuster. Therefore, there is no need for a cloture vote to end a filibuster. Likewise, there is no need to nuke the filibuster to get around Republicans not having 60 votes.
Recall that the reconciliation process was what Democrats used to enact Obamacare.
To be sure, Obama would veto a bill with a rider that defunds Planned Parenthood. He has said so, and in this instance, I take him at his word. Make him veto it anyhow. If the government shuts down as a result, it will be on his watch.
The Planned Parenthood videos are horrific. Desperate measures are called for as a response. Making Obama veto a bill is a start.
Friday, September 25, 2015
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement on the Senate floor regarding the resignation of John Boehner:
"Grace under pressure.
“Country and institution before self.
“These are the first things that come to mind when I think of John Boehner.
“He is an ally. He is a friend. And he took over as Republican Leader at a difficult time for his party.
“When some said Republicans could never recover, he never gave up.
“When some gave in to defeatism, he kept up the fight.
“Because he did, Speaker Boehner was able to transform a broken and dispirited Republican minority into the largest Republican majority since the 1920s.
“That’s a legacy few can match.
“He flew across the country more times than he can count to support members of his conference, and to recruit new members to the cause. As leader of a new majority, he turned the tide in Congress and brought conservative reform in many areas. He worked tirelessly to provide hope to those who dreamed of a better life and to middle-class families who struggled under the weight of this Administration.
“John knows what it’s like to struggle and to dream of something better. He’s lived it.
“That a young man from Reading, Ohio wielding a bar towel could one day wield the gavel of the U.S. House of Representatives — it reminds us of the continuing promise of this country.
“I know yesterday was an incredibly important event for the Speaker. It was his aim to bring the same spirit of grace that has always guided his life, to others. You only had to look out onto the Capitol lawn to see what he achieved. And that he chose this moment to make this decision, means he will be leaving us in a similar spirit.
“I know we’ll all have more to say in the weeks to come. But for now, thank you, my friend.”
Thursday, September 24, 2015
I went to a fundraiser for Matt Bevin last night and it has caused me to rethink my opinion of him: I was very impressed by how thoughtful and substantive his answers were to a wide range of topics. It's no secret that the guy is very bright. What I had not previously noticed, however, is how creative he is with respect to coming up with solutions to solve problems. That's an attribute that we could use more of in our elected leaders.
But what really impressed me was his temperament. This fundraiser was held at a club, and a member who may have been overserved wandered in from the bar during the event. This person asked an aggressive question about the horse industry, to which Matt politely responded. His response was not satisfactory to the questioner, who kept interrupting him, not with questions at this point, but to argue -- even getting profane. Matt was relentlessly polite and displayed no anger whatsoever. And he kept trying to address the substance of the topic all the while being yelled at and interrupted -- at his own fundraiser.
This contrasts the narrative that local political reporters have been pushing about Matt's temper and temperament.
A couple other things stood out from the evening.
I was joking with Matt about Sweaty Jack Conway's debate performance under the heat of the television lights. Matt informed that Conway was sweating profusely back stage, even before they went under the stage lights. He said that Conway appeared to be extremely nervous while awaiting for the debate to start.
How odd for someone who has served two terms as attorney general and run for Congress and U.S. Senate to be so nervous about a debate; he has more debate and campaign experience than Matt and Drew Curtis combined. It reinforces my theory that Conway does not really want to be governor; he is running out of a sense of entitled noblesse oblige.
I asked Matt to about his comment that he would appoint qualified people regardless of their party affiliation; I told him this bothered me as a conservative -- that I didn't see how he could govern as a conservative if he appointed people who do not espouse conservative principles.
Matt clarified that he would appoint qualified conservatives regardless of party affiliation. He made the point that there are still many Kentuckians who are Democrats by registration as a historical accident rather than a reflection of ideology. Someone who agrees with him ideologically -- and has the requisite expertise for a given position -- might still be a good selection notwithstanding party registration. And he indicated that in the vast majority of instances, he would likely appoint a Republican. I thought it was a good answer and it eased my doubts on the point.
Finally, I have to credit Matt with how much he as improved as a candidate. That reflects a discipline and willingness to learn, and speaks well to his ability to govern.
This race is tight. Republicans, conservative Democrats and independents who want Kentucky to be its best need to get behind Matt Bevin now.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Six months ago, I would never have guessed that his presidential campaign would burn out so quickly.
I met Scott Walker at a Federalist Society event a few years ago. He gave a good, substantive speech that highlighted the reforms he has enacted in Wisconsin. I was particularly impressed with his record on battling the teachers' unions, which in my view, have done more to harm education in this country than almost anything.
I was also impressed with his ability to survive the relentless attacks and recall elections the Dems kept throwing him -- particularly in a purple state.
In light of Walker's record --both in policy and politically -- I thought he merited a serious look as a presidential nominee.
And yet he never caught on. This is just not his time. That he realized this so quickly is to his credit and reflects his political acumen.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Gov. Bobby Jindal is on fire. Can't believe this is the same guy who froze during his State of the Union rebuttal when he was first elected. I loved the point that his criticism of Trump did not violate Reagan's 11th Commandment -- because that only applies to Republicans!
This is quickly turning into a two person debate between Jindal and Rick Santorum.
Kim Davis is now an item in the debate. George Pataki seems to be the only one to understand that she was an elected official who took an oath to uphold the law. He would have fired her.
Kim Davis does not bake wedding cakes. She is not a member of the private sector. Totally different issue.
Jindal is right. Stop appointing judges with blank slates as records. Pick conservatives with known track records who are willing to go on the record rather than hide what they believe.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher's potty tweet is now a national story. The Huffington Post has the original photo, plainly taken while Fisher or one of his minions was sitting on the toilet. The tweets he got in reply are classic.
Yes, Kentucky has been getting all kinds of publicity lately.
I guess this is Fisher leading from behind.
Jack Conway sent the following email last night: "I just left the stage. . . . I feel great because we clearly came out on top."
Were we at the same debate?
Aside from sweating more than Richard Nixon, he performed abysmally. Speech and debate teams should study the video as an example of what not to do.
Even the unknown independent, Drew Curtis, beat him.
For Conway to send an email blast touting how well he did is just unhinged.
Jack Conway has the stench of defeat.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Matt Bevin out-touched independent candidate Drew Curtis to win tonight's Bluegrass Debate at Bellarmine University. Jack Conway performed poorly and was the clear loser. in third place.
Curtis displayed a sense of humor that was appealing at first but then degenerated into flippancy. That's too bad, because his intellect was impressive. Had Curtis played it straight, he would have won the debate easily. When he was serious -- particularly on the pension crisis -- his answers were thoughtful and well-reasoned.
I could not even recall Curtis's name going into the debate. I thought he was just a gadfly. It was startling, therefore, to see him out-debate Conway -- a lawyer. To be sure, expectations for Curtis were low to non-existent going in to the debate.
Conway looked like he was going to throw up. He sweated more than Richard Nixon. His color was bad and his usually coiffed hair looked disheveled. Any time Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was mentioned, Conway kept repeating that he understood that there were passionate feelings on both sides of the issue.
Conway took a few swipes at Bevin's character. He criticized Bevin for not releasing his taxes. Bevin got an assist from Curtis, who basically said he (Curtis) would not only release his taxes but give tours of his house, that is "who cares?"
Bevin confronted Conway about crying on camera while announcing that he would not appeal the decision that struck down Kentucky's marriage amendment; Conway replied that he just wanted to save the taxpayers money. As if any Democrat would cry over that!
Conway was asked about the Democrats' lack of response to sexual harassment of women who work in state government in Frankfort. He replied something about how smart his wife is, and how he has two daughters and even his dog is female. Embarrassing. Just embarrassing.
Here's the link to my latest Courier-Journal column. It is on the C-J website now, and will appear in tomorrow's paper edition. Thanks to the C-J for giving me permission to reprint:
There were many images of first responders on the 14th anniversary of 9/11. Police officers stood behind the bereaved at the 9/11 Memorial, guarding them and mourning with them.
As a mother of boys, I recall that the most popular Halloween costumes for little boys in 2001 were firefighter and police uniforms. That resulted from the courage of the first responders on 9/11. The blessing that came out of that terrible day is that we witnessed numerous ordinary people become heroes. It was a powerful lesson.
Recently I heard of a local police officer who became a hero in a quieter way. LMPD Officer Michael Leek gave a new bike to an eight-year-old whose last two bikes had been stolen.
WHAS reported that the boy, Clarence, had helped the officer search for lost keys. The two began talking, and the officer observed that Clarence needed a new bike. The child explained that he had owned a new bike, but that it had been stolen, so he was making due with an old one. Two weeks later, Leek again saw Clarence and asked where his bike was; the older bike, too, had been stolen.
Leek surprised Clarence with a new bike. The boy’s mother cried with gratitude. Clarence now says he wants to be a policeman when he grows up.
Leek wasn’t just thoughtful and generous. He was intentional about getting to know the people on his beat.
He noticed Clarence and remembered him; he asked questions and followed up. He let Clarence know that he saw him and heard him, that he was not an anonymous poor kid in a rough neighborhood. Leek saw Clarence as an individual, and likewise, that is how their interaction caused Clarence to see Leek.
Leek’s concern about the theft of Clarence’s bike harkens back to the “broken windows” theory of policing that did much to make New York City safe under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The idea was that when police crack down on minor crimes like pan-handling and jay-walking, it transforms the culture from lawlessness into order.
An eight-year-old’s stolen bike is a petty theft, just as a broken window is not a crack house. Fix the broken window, and reduce the odds of the house becoming a haven for drugs. As the murder rate soars in cities across the country, it’s an approach to law enforcement worth revisiting.
Leek’s gift to Clarence is particularly poignant while the Black Lives Matter movement demonizes — and endangers — police. To be sure, there are bad cops, just as there are bad citizens. Both should be punished under the rule of law. But their numbers should not be overestimated and should not detract from the vast majority of police who risk their lives and serve with professionalism, anymore than the criminal element should be taken to represent a community or racial group.
That brings me to a segment I heard on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America radio show. Bennett’s demeanor and erudite analysis contrast with the vitriol of most of talk radio. But even Bennett’s measured delivery cannot take away the ugliness of certain facts.
The Black Lives Matter movement recently held a protest — kept safe by a police escort — at the Minnesota State Fair, hours after a Houston policeman was gunned down. The protesters chanted: “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon!”.
Certainly “pigs” refers to police. What I had not previously understood is this: “pigs in a blanket” refers to cops in body bags. Notwithstanding the protest leader’s dissembling, the chant calls for the murder of police officers, pure and simple.
The chant does not distinguish between good cops and rogue cops: it calls for the murder of all cops. So I cannot help but think of Officer Leek and the 9/11 heroes when I contemplate the phrase.
And I think of eight-year-old Clarence. His life matters. Not because he is black. It matters for the same reason that all lives matter, because he is a human being created in God’s image. I am grateful for police such as Officer Leek who protect Clarence and all of us. I pray for their safety.
The Obama presidency was supposed to usher in an era of post-racial healing. Why, then, does President Obama not condemn the chant “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon”? His silence in the face of this call to violence does not promote racial healing, but rather the opposite.
Terrorists killed 215 blacks on 9/11; that number is dwarfed by the thousands of American blacks murdered by criminals annually. Showing support for those honorable police and first responders who seek to prevent and redress such tragedies demonstrates that black (and all other) lives truly matter.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
The Republican Party of Kentucky held a fundraiser last night for all the state-wide candidates below Matt Bevin. Bevin, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Congressman Brett Guthrie were guests of honor.
The event raised $250,000. Not too shabby. Donors had the choice of giving to the party or to the candidate.
I've written before about my friend Allison Ball, who is running for Treasurer, as well as Whitney Westerfield, who is running for Attorney General. Both are outstanding candidates.
Last night, I had the opportunity to meet the rest of the slate. Wow. As McConnell pointed out, not that long ago the party had to dragoon people to run for these down-ticket races. Now we have these stellar candidates; it bodes well for the future of the party. Any of these people, down the road, would be well-suited to run for Congress, U.S. Senate or a governor.
Specifically, I am referring to Ryan Quarles (running for Commissioner of Agriculture); Mike Harmon (running for State Auditor); and Steve Knipper (running for Secretary of State). They had my vote already. Now they will get some of my money. Each of these candidates impressed me as sharp, conservative, and real -- just genuinely nice people.
Quarles appears to be winning against a candidate who doesn't seem very bright. My son commented after he heard her Fancy Farm speech that it was the first time that he had heard someone (Quarles) criticized for being too well-educated. It struck him as ignorant. I've heard similar comments since.
Mike Harmon is running against Adam Edelen. I am going to try to watch that debate. Harmon has a great sense of humor and I expect he will do very well against Edelen. Edelen, meanwhile, is telling people (even elected Republicans) that he plans to run against Sen. Rand Paul. So he is using the position of Kentucky Auditor in the interim. Lots of politicians use lots of offices for spring boards. But to run for reelection when you know that you are already seeking the next office the following year seems slimey and opportunistic.
I was also impressed with Steve Knipper, who is running against Alison Lundergan Grimes. Grimes should be worried about this race coming off her 16 point loss to McConnell. Apparently she is. Knipper noted that after Grimes learned he had worked in China for many years and had adopted five children from that country, Grimes decided it was necessary to take her first trip there to prove her bona fides on international trade. Grimes recently took an introductory IT class; Knipper's background, coincidentally, is in IT. Kipper said he would welcome a debate with her on IT issues. Knipper's central point is that the Secretary of State, which is in charge of elections, registration of corporations and other areas requiring efficient and effective computer technology and software, is very similar to a chief technology officer or chief business officer of a company. It is not a way station for the politician daughter of a politician who longs for higher political office. How fun would it be to finish off the bad Alison once and for all and end the Lundergan dynasty? That, in and of itself, warrants a contribution to Knipper.
The fate of these down-ticket candidates is to a large extent tied to that of Matt Bevin. Each is strong enough, however, that if (God forbid) Jack Conway wins, they could still win -- but only if properly funded. These candidates have disrupted their lives and put themselves out there to advance conservatism and the Republican Party of Kentucky. Let's all do what we can to support them. Not everyone can write a big check, or any check. But we can all post a yard sign or walk a precinct and make some calls.