Mitch McConnell Just Helped Trump Take Kentucky’s Cops and Teachers Hostage

“I would like you to do us a favor, though.”

There’s been a lot written about Mitch McConnell’s motives for refusing to give aid to states and localities whose budgets have been decimated by coronavirus response in the last round of COVID relief.

John Harwood described it as an anti-government effort, generally, though notes it could backfire among white working class voters.

Wealthy Republican donors disdain government as an unwelcome source of taxes and business regulations. They can purchase private alternatives to broad-based public services in realms such as education, health care and transportation.
Republicans in Congress see unionized government workers as hostile soldiers fighting against their reelection. Responsibility for financing the services those workers provide falls to governors and state legislators, not them.

The GOP infused those sentiments into the 2017 tax law that remains Trump’s principal legislative achievement. It limited deductions for state and local levies from federal tax bills — which both punished taxpayers in blue states that provide more services and made it harder for those states to finance those services.

The wild card in this constellation of forces is the party’s increasing dependence on working-class white voters. Republicans have long capitalized on their suspicion that many government programs benefit others, not them. Trump placed appeals to their racial resentments at the center of his 2016 campaign.

Axis of Evil expert David Frum described how, by forcing states into bankruptcy, Republicans hope to exercise power even after Trump has been defeated.

Republican plans for state bankruptcy sedulously protect state taxpayers. The Bush-Gingrich op-ed of 2011 was explicit on this point. A federal law of state bankruptcy “must explicitly forbid any federal judge from mandating a tax hike,” they wrote. You might wonder: Why? If a Republican Senate majority leader from Kentucky is willing to squeeze Illinois state pensioners, why would he care about shielding Illinois state taxpayers? The answer is found in the third of the three facts of American fiscal federalism.

United States senators from smaller, poorer red states do not only represent their states. Often, they do not even primarily represent their states. They represent, more often, the richest people in bigger, richer blue States who find it more economical to invest in less expensive small-state races. The biggest contributor to Mitch McConnell’s 2020 campaign and leadership committee is a PAC headquartered in Englewood, New Jersey. The second is a conduit for funds from real-estate investors. The third is the tobacco company Altria. The fourth is the parcel delivery service UPS. The fifth is the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical corporation. The sixth is the home health-care company, LHC Group. The seventh is the Blackstone hedge fund. And so on and on.

A federal bankruptcy process for state finances could thus enable wealthy individuals and interest groups in rich states to leverage their clout in the anti-majoritarian federal system to reverse political defeats in the more majoritarian political systems of big, rich states like California, New York, and Illinois.

[snip]

But McConnell seems to be following the rule “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” He’s realistic enough to recognize that the pandemic probably means the end not only of the Trump presidency, but of his own majority leadership. He’s got until January to refashion the federal government in ways that will constrain his successors. That’s what the state-bankruptcy plan is all about.

Andrew Cuomo recognized the same dynamic. Amid a rant noting that, as governor, he serves people of all (or no) party, he described the hypocrisy of bailing out airlines and small businesses but not cops and other first responders.

I understand that, but state and local government funds police and fire and teachers and schools. How do you not fund police and fire and teachers and schools in the midst of this crisis? Yes, airlines are important. Yes, small businesses are important. So police and fire and healthcare workers who are the front line workers, and when you don’t fund the state, then the state can’t fund those services. It makes no sense to me. Also, it makes no sense that the entire nation is dependent on what the governors do to reopen. We’ve established that. It’s up to this governor, it’s up to this governor, it’s up to this governor, but then you’re not going to fund the state government. You think I’m going to do it alone? How do you think this is going to work? And then to suggest we’re concerned about the economy, states should declare bankruptcy. That’s how you’re going to bring this national economy back? By states declaring bankruptcy? You want to see that market fall through the cellar?

Let New York state declare bankruptcy. Let Michigan declare bankruptcy. Let Illinois declare bankruptcy. Let’s California declare bankruptcy. You will see a collapse of this national economy. So just dumb. Vicious is saying, when Senator McConnell said, this is a blue state bailout, what he’s saying is if you look at the states that have coronavirus problems, they tend to be democratic states. New York, California, Michigan, Illinois. They are democratic states. So if you fund states that are suffering from the coronavirus, the democratic states, don’t help New York state because it is a democratic state. How ugly a thought. I mean, just think of what he’s saying. People died. 15,000 people died in New York, but they were predominantly Democrats. So why should we help them? I mean, for crying out loud, if there was ever a time for you to put aside your pettiness and your partisanship and this political lens that you see the world through Democrat and Republican and we help Republicans, but we don’t have Democrats. That’s not who we are.

It’s just not who we are as a people. I mean, if there’s ever a time for humanity and decency, now is the time. And if there was ever a time to stop your political, obsessive political bias and anger, which is what it’s morphing to, just a political anger, now is the time and you want to politically divide this nation now, with all that’s going on? How irresponsible and how reckless/ I’m the governor of all New Yorkers. Democrat, Republican, independent. I don’t even care what your political party is. I represent you, and we are all there to support each other. This is not the time or the place or the situation to start your divisive politics. It is just not.

Cuomo also noted that McConnell’s own state, Kentucky, is a net aid recipient, not New York.

Let’s talk about fairness, Mitch. NYS puts $116 billion more into the federal pot than we take out. Kentucky TAKES $148 billion more from the federal pot than they put in. But we don’t deserve help now because the 15,000 people who died here were predominately democrats?

David Sirota is the only one I saw who observed that McConnell’s own state of Kentucky would be one of the hardest hit states.

In a half-assed play to avoid looking like he’s deliberately enriching his elite financiers and starving the peasants, McConnell cast himself as a principled opponent of “blue state bailouts” — a seemingly shrewd anti-coastal framing for his own potentially difficult reelection campaign.

In reality, though, McConnell’s opposition to pension aid is even worse than a pathetic Gerald Ford impression. It is him giving the big middle finger to hundreds of thousands of his own constituents whose Republican-leaning state is now facing one of America’s worst pension crises after McConnell’s Wall Street courtiers strip-mined Kentucky’s public retirement system.

That’s right: for all the talk of pension shortfalls in blue states like Illinois and California, the bright red state of Kentucky has one of the most underfunded pension systems in the country. The gap between promised benefits and current resources has been estimated to be between $40 billion and $60 billion. One of the state’s pension funds is less than 15 percent funded.

Those shortfalls are not the product of Kentucky’s public-sector workers being greedy or lavishly remunerated — Kentucky teachers, for example, are paid 23 percent less than other workers with similar educational credentials, and they do not receive Social Security benefits.

No — the shortfalls are the result of 1) state lawmakers repeatedly refusing to make annual contributions to the system, 2) investment losses from the 2007 financial crisis and now the COVID downturn, and 3) especially risky hedge fund investments that generated big fees for politically connected Wall Street firms, but especially big losses for the state’s portfolio. (Executives from some of those specific firms are among McConnell’s biggest collective donors, and those firms could be enriched by other parts of McConnell’s federal stimulus bill.

The pension emergency in Kentucky has become so dire that teachers staged mass protests last year, resulting in national headlines and a PBS Frontline special, and a court case that ultimately overturned the Republican legislature’s proposed pension cuts, which the GOP literally attached to a sewer bill.

There’s another aspect of all this, however: leverage. Mitch McConnell says he won’t dole out aid for states and localities until the Senate comes back into session. That’ll give him the opportunity to resume packing the courts.

In addition (as I predicted), part of this is an effort to retain leverage with which to force states to reopen.

BUT FIRST … SENATE AND HOUSE DEMOCRATS have been pushing hard in negotiations for $150 billion in funds for state and local governments to pair with the hundreds of billions the administration wants in small business lending. But THE WHITE HOUSE and TRUMP ADMINISTRATION have been holding out because, in part, they believe if Congress keeps cutting checks for state and local governments, they will be disincentivized to open up their economies.

Trump tried and tried and tried to say he got to decide how to reopen the economy. And then the first state that tried — his ally Brian Kemp — made him look bad by ignoring the White House’s own guidelines.

To regain any control over this, short of Billy Barr making good on his suggestions that DOJ might start litigation, Trump needs something to withhold to force governors, of both parties, to take actions they otherwise wouldn’t.

Aid to keep states and localities running is one of the few things Trump has. Want to pay your cops? Okay, then, “but I would like you to do us a favor, though.”

And here’s where Mitch’s actions become really perverse. Kentucky’s own governor, Andy Beshear, is one of the red states with a Democratic governor. Under his leadership, Kentucky has a lower level of infections than any neighboring state but West Virginia (which is even more rural). Kentucky is a member of the Midwestern pact that, along with a bunch of Democratic governors that Republicans would like to damage ahead of the elections, also includes Mike DeWine, one of the three most proactive Republican governors. Of those states, Beshear might be most susceptible to pressure from nutjobs.

That is, among the governors that Mitch is helping Trump to blackmail — to withhold aid from until they give Trump a favor — is Mitch’s own state. Like all other governors, Beshear will need to make some devastating budgetary decisions, decisions that will hurt public workers in Kentucky, and those decisions will start immediately, affecting Beshear’s ability to serve the people of Kentucky.

This is an ugly, vicious ploy. But it’s also one that Mitch’s opponent, Amy McGrath, really ought to be able to use against him in November.

image_print
52 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    If Lt Col McGrath gets the press she will. That’s always a big question and I have no doubt that OANN and Faux already have her in a SEP field (someone else’s problem) described in the Hitchhiker’s Guide.

  2. Peterr says:

    Whatever decisions he has to make, I suspect Beshear will make it clear what role Mitch McConnell has played here.

    But more than that, I wonder how the various mayors around Kentucky will take this. If a bunch of local mayors denounce McConnell’s hostage-taking, that could have an even stronger impact on Mitch’s own reelection.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, I also think cynical Republicans are underestimating how powerful effective communication during a crisis can be. I’ve seen multiple reports of people from TN tuning into Beshear’s briefings in KY. So he may make real in-roads on two decades of cultural attacks on Democrats.

  3. madwand says:

    I look at Trumps public disagreement with Kemp as just covering Trumps ass if suddenly there is an outbreak of cases in Georgia as a result of lifting restrictions too soon. If that happens Kemp will be hoisted on his own petard and people may be reevaluating why they didn’t vote for Abrams. It’s a gamble for Kemp who is hoping heat tames the virus in the short run and buys time until November or later when it may come back with a vengeance.

    Here is an article from the NYTimes this morning from the lady, Jill Karofsky, who won the Wisconsin Supreme Court despite Republican partisan court attempts at both the Wisconsin and US Supreme court level to influence voting.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/27/opinion/wisconsin-election.html?

    From the article:

    “It’s important to note three significant facts. First, both court decisions — from the U.S. and Wisconsin Supreme Courts — are seen as being along partisan lines, with allies of Republicans refusing to delay the election. Second, because of the pandemic, the justices of neither of those courts actually met in person when discussing and voting these cases — but they forced many people who wanted to vote, to vote in person. And third, every member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court had already voted early. They weren’t putting themselves at risk.”

    So, this is all about on a judicial level about maintaining power for Republicans regardless of any ethical or humanitarian concern that may be obvious and certainly demonstrates the partisan and moral cowardice of these Republican judges.

    Perhaps McGrath will win and McConnell’s calculation, that Trump will lose, will both become realities. Time will tell and one can only hope.

    • JamesJoyce says:

      “So, this is all about on a judicial level about maintaining power for Republicans regardless of any ethical or humanitarian concern that may be obvious and certainly demonstrates the partisan and moral cowardice of these “Republican Judges.“

      A I recall 7 Judges from states sympathetic to the slaveowners did the same thing in 1857.

      “Complete Malfeasance,” regardless of any ethical or humanitarian concern that may been obvious in 1857 and certainly demonstrating the partisan and moral cowardice of these Republican judges in 2020 as well as in 1857.

      The Winking Horse has turned it all upside down, Mitch…

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UqtOM03M8co

      Fox is in Moscow…..

  4. drouse says:

    One of the things that keep me up at night nowadays is that Trump, McConnell and the rest of their merry gang are overestimating the amount of stress the Union can withstand in their pursuit of permanent minority rule. Newsom has already started making noises along those lines. It hardly requires mentioning that Putin would be simply overjoyed.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Newsom said what, exactly? It seems that you’re claiming he’s advocating an armed insurrection when I’ve heard nothing of the kind. The red state governors and “constitutional sheriffs”, however have already tried floating that idea several times over Obamacare and sensible gun legislation among other RWNJ priorities.

      • drouse says:

        I was thinking of him referring to California as a nation-state. And no I was not implying armed insurrection, that’s the right’s fantasy. I realize that it was just one comment but I simply cannot remember a governor ever before making that distinction. If Trump et. al. keep pitting the states against one another while proving just how deliberately ineffectual the federal gov under republican rule is going to be, I predict there will be more rumblings in the future.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Well, since we have something like the world’s sixth largest economy, that was what Newsom referred to in context of what resources we can bring to bear on the response. That was also part of his comment, so please concern-troll somewhere else about whether CA is going to secede (nope).

          It is probably more likely (as in not very) that DJT will banish us in a tweet because he doesn’t like us..

          • drouse says:

            I changed my mind about the comment I just deleted. I have been around here for quite a bit and don’t have the rep for that. So shove it.

    • JamesJoyce says:

      Yes.
      Yes..
      &
      Yes……

      Putin and MBS

      Bingo..

      Energy monopoly and minority rule are the same confederate coin.

      Worthless..

  5. ernesto1581 says:

    So:
    Kentuckey, Andy Beshear (D):
    4078 cases/208 deaths, of a population of 4,500,000. Infection rate: .09%, mortality rate/infection: 5.1%

    W Virginia, Jim Justice (D til ’17, R ’17-’20):
    1055 cases/34 deaths, of a population of 1,800,000. Infection rate: .059%, mortality rate/infection: 3.2%
    (Interesting change in party allegiance in 2017, I suppose.)

    for sake of (rural) comparison:
    Vermont, Phil Scott (R):
    851 cases/46 deaths, of a population of 628,000. Infection rate: .14%, mortality rate/infection: 5.4%

    Scott has managed to go his own way during covid-19 and has thus far resisted DC arm-twisting to accelerate his re-opening schedule. We’ll see, though — he may be called to pay the piper at some point for having driven his own course since Trump’s inauguration. There does seem to be some log jam upstream re: PPP and CARE$…

    Underfunded public sector pensions, by the way, are not the exclusive province of red states. Vermont’s teacher pensions, for example, have an unfunded liability of $1.513 billion, going back to 1995. That shorting began during the second Howard Dean administration, with bipartisan gubernatorial support for the next twenty years.

    The Pew Trust put together an eye-opening map of all 50 states’ public pension funding status, in 2018.

    https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/issue-briefs/2018/04/the-state-pension-funding-gap-2016#0-overview

    • RobertJ says:

      I’m a bit suspicious about the significance of those statistics for CoVID-19. There has not been enough testing. W. Virginia was supposedly the last state to report an infection, but accounts suggest this was likely because of the barriers that had been placed on the access to tests. You can be sure that the Republican controlled states in the south are trying to minimize reports of infections and related deaths.

      • P J Evans says:

        They’re now looking at excess deaths as a measure of the virus – that’s the number of deaths above the average over the last 5 or 6 years. There are a lot of excess deaths – worldwide.

    • Mary M McCurnin says:

      Here are the stats for both CA and LA:
      LA
      Population: 4.649 million
      27,286 cases, 1,758 deaths
      CA
      Population: 39.51 million
      43,464 cases, 1,755 deaths

      WTF?
      (Sorry for being off topic but this drives me crazy.)

  6. Rugger9 says:

    I saw the Tom Tomorrow cartoon, and make this note: ammonia and bleach (hypochlorite) make phosgene gas not chlorine, and it’s worse.

    The Germans used it in WWI after experimenting with chlorine first on the Canandians.

    • OregonGreen says:

      This is incorrect. Phosgene is the organic chemical compound with the formula COCl2, Ammonia is also known as NH3. Notice that neither of these molecules contain the atoms of the other. From Wiki – “Industrially, phosgene is produced by passing purified carbon monoxide and chlorine gas through a bed of porous activated carbon, which serves as a catalyst”. Mixing bleach and ammonia in fact does produce chlorine gas, I will let you look up the equations.

  7. harpie says:

    Jane Mayer‘s recent article about McConnell:

    How Mitch McConnell Became Trump’s Enabler-in-Chief
    The Senate Majority Leader’s refusal to rein in the President is looking riskier than ever.
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/04/20/how-mitch-mcconnell-became-trumps-enabler-in-chief
    Jane Mayer April 12, 2020

    Will Bunch:
    https://twitter.com/Will_Bunch/status/1249478906844983296
    7:26 PM · Apr 12, 2020

    The incomparable @JaneMayerNYer on Mitch McConnell is every bit as good as you’d expect it to be, including arguably the best paragraph ever written on the Kentucky crusher of democracy [screenshot]

    Here’s that paragraph:

    For months, I searched for the larger principles or sense of purpose that animates McConnell. I travelled twice to Kentucky, observed him at a Trump rally in Lexington, and watched him preside over the impeachment trial in Washington. I interviewed dozens of people, some of whom love him and some of whom despise him. I read his autobiography, his speeches, and what others have written about him. Finally, someone who knows him very well told me,

    “Give up. You can look and look for something more in him, but it isn’t there. I wish I could tell you that there is some secret thing that he really believes in, but he doesn’t.”

    • harpie says:

      There is also a good quote from LBJ [also a Senate majority leader] biographer Robert Caro:

      Caro said, “In a way, McConnell and Johnson are very similar. They both used the rules and procedures of the Senate with great deftness. But, in a more significant way, they couldn’t be more diametrically opposite. Johnson, for all his faults, in his later years used the rules and procedures to turn the Senate into a force to create social justice. McConnell has used them to block it.”

      • AndTheSlithyToves says:

        Thanks, Harpie! I’ve sent this article off to at least a baker’s dozen of my friends. Perhaps ole Moscow Mitch (sorry, bmaz) has finally gotten out too far over his skis. One can only hope and then pass on information like Ms. Mayer’s so that people can understand what has and is happening.
        It would be fitting if people also get what a racist McConnell is at heart.
        “McConnell’s opposition to Obama was relentless. In 2010, the Senate Majority Leader famously said, when asked about his goals, ‘The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President.’ Carroll, the Courier-Journal reporter, was dumbstruck by McConnell’s attitude when the Senator allowed him to listen in one day as he took a phone call from Obama, on the condition that Carroll not write about it. ‘McConnell said a couple of words, like ‘Yup,’ ‘O.K.,’ and ‘Bye,’ but he never said, ‘Mr. President,’” Carroll recalls. “There was just a total lack of respect even for the office.” McConnell preferred to deal with Obama’s Vice-President, Joe Biden. (In his autobiography, McConnell mocks Biden’s ‘incessant chatter’ but also says, ‘We could talk to each other.’)”

    • harpie says:

      And here’s Charles Pierce responding to Mayer’s article, and the “give up” quote in particular:

      Mitch McConnell Is the Dry Rot in the Republican Party That Made Donald Trump Possible
      A new profile reinforces the notion that the Senate majority leader has no political conviction beyond the will to power.
      https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a32147789/mitch-mcconnell-profile-republican-party-power-donald-trump/
      CHARLES P. PIERCE APR 14, 2020

      Mitch McConnell, it [that quote] tells us, has managed to enable a criminally negligent, criminally incompetent, and (likely) criminally criminal president* because Mitch McConnell is a vacant, soulless, unprincipled goon whose only allegiance is to his own power and to those forces in politics that allow him to maintain it.

      Once again, it’s worth thinking deeply about thekind of politics that inevitably produces a Mitch McConnell, and that inevitably allows him to reach a position of considerable power. […]

    • harpie says:

      This is a NYT editorial from just after the 2016 election:

      Retired Coal Miners Losing Their Safety Net
      https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/28/opinion/retired-coal-miners-losing-their-safety-net.html
      The Editorial Board Nov. 28, 2016

      The troubled coal industry, which stirred such great political concern during the presidential campaign, is about to take on a decidedly human dimension in the Senate. A bipartisan push is underway there to rescue the failing pension and health benefits of thousands of retired union coal miners. […]

      The plan, called the Miners Protection Act, was sent for floor action by a bipartisan 18-to-8 vote of the Senate Finance Committee in September. But it has run into trouble with the Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. He questions why the bill would protect only members of the United Mine Workers of America, which has an estimated 89,000 pensioned miners and family members and 22,000 workers vested for the future. […]

      Mr. McConnell blames the Obama administration for the industry’s troubles, insisting that its “ideological” regulatory policies have hurt miners more than they have helped the environment. […]

      The plan has firm support from Democratic senators, but its success is in serious doubt, given Mr. McConnell’s stance. (He insists that the United Mine Workers’s endorsement of his opponent two years ago in a re-election race is “irrelevant” to his views.) […]

    • BobCon says:

      The flip side to this needs pointing out — McConnell is outmaneuvering Pelosi because she failed to prepare the House to operate during the outbreak.

      This article is pretty damning about her failure:

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/were-basically-ill-prepared-hobbled-house-majority-frets-about-its-effectiveness-amid-pandemic/2020/04/25/1b3c1c5e-85b7-11ea-878a-86477a724bdb_story.html

      By failing to develop and approve an operating plan before recess, we are getting no hearings on slam dunk issues and closed door deals on relief packages that benefit billionaires and huge corporations.

      Pelosi is essentially giving Kevin McCarthy veto power over House actions by forcing the House to work by unanimous consent. And of course McCarthy won’t agree on hearings on Trump’s disaster. Why would he?

      The Senate is designed to be the harder body to govern, and in large part that dynamic is fed by bad publicity. But Pelosi won’t fight to make headlines about testing failures, lack of PPE, SBA loans going to Ruth’s Chris and the LA Lakers thanks to Marco Rubio’s sponsored clause.

      This is a disaster, but Pelosi is treating it like a long weekend thanks to a blizzard. It’s apalling, and it gives McConnell a much longer leash than he should have.

    • Tom says:

      “We are the hollow men
      We are the stuffed men
      Leaning together
      Headpiece filled with straw … “

      • Herbert de Bray says:

        The US is a great Nation, built on an attitude of strength and physicality but is missing a moral and integral quantity of responsibility. It’s so ego-driven and Trump will washout soon.
        He should have been a Holy-Roller along with Moscow Mitch.
        …still time, retirement is nye.

  8. Thomasa says:

    I cannot believe this is all Mc Connell’s doing, evil as he is. He has help. Were McConnell to drop dead of a heart attack, my suspicion is that another would rise to take his place.

    As Marcy et al point out, McConnell is playing a long game, planning to emasculate successor governments and administrations. But his opponents must play a short game to stop the Republican assault on services that support civil functioning before November, such as the Postal Service. Democracy’s champions must also play an equally long game and find a way to put him and the Republican cabal in checkmate before November. I am not a political strategist so I don’t have much of a plan to suggest.

    But I see the need for deliberate action as urgent. It appears to me that the actions of the administration and its supporters have gone well beyond incompetent into the realm of malevolent. I fear that a civil war has already begun, hidden behind nearly un-parseable rhetoric, except for some confederate flag waving and public gun toting on sate-capitol steps. But beyond the rhetoric, for all who are paying attention to see, is a cynical assault on civil society.

    Rather than cannons and gatling guns taking sides across killing fields and railroad tracks ripped up across Georgia, we are seeing attempts to thwart the functioning of civil society through financial ploys aimed at increasing the chaos in an already tense and chaotic moment. Defunding the police? Confusing communications by posting deliberate lies on social media platforms and refusing to support the Postal Service when there is a demonstrable need to support a fair election? Defunding public health? Ditto medical research? Confiscating medical supplies? Arbitraging medical supplies and pocketing the difference? Allowing farmworkers and food processors to die from medical inattention? Spreading deliberate disinformation that endangers the gullible? Packing the courts with political hacks? How much evidence does one need?

    What mystifies me is how the perpetrators believe they stand to benefit? Are the elite in a banana republic, who own all the resources and whose workers are defacto slaves, better off than the elite in a functioning democracy? I doubt it.

    There are parallels here with my experience of corruption in Saigon ca. 1969, about which I’m a hundred pages into a book. In Saigon there were not identifiable sides taken. Instead there were many competing factions, each out for their share of the graft; their share of the money provided by America. The corruption I witnessed at 21 was jaw dropping and changed my worldview permanently. Among other things, I uncovered a scheme by high government officials to launder very large amounts Vietnamese currency to get it out of the country. In our day the sources of the money are different but where would the ill-gotten gains of our elite be sent? What will be the fruits of the war on civil society?

    Hopefully some students of Von Clausewitz have a plan in the works that doesn’t involve cannons.

    • rip says:

      Good analysis. And I agree about the long vs. short games. There are some good chess analogies here. Wonder who might play chess that also influences US politics….

    • gmoke says:

      I wouldn’t look to Von Clausewitz for a cannon-less remedy to this situation. Sun Tzu perhaps, but not Von Clausewitz, Jomini, or Liddell Hart.

    • Madwand says:

      “What mystifies me is how the perpetrators believe they stand to benefit? Are the elite in a banana republic, who own all the resources and whose workers are defacto slaves, better off than the elite in a functioning democracy? I doubt it.”

      I suppose they asked the same question of Octavian, way back when, who must have learned something from Caesar because he eliminated the competition. So it must be about power as defined in interest, for no other sake than power. I remember McConnell articulating that Republicans would not let Obama succeed at anything, or words to that effect. At nothing? Even if it was in the best interest of the country? Really? There you have it, the best interest of the country is not what Republicans are interested in.

      I would pick Sun Tzu, but if not Liddell Hart is second.

      • Martin from Canada says:

        In short, power trumps wealth.

        Micheal Kalecki wrote about that in 1943 in his piece The Political Aspect of Full Employment.

        https://delong.typepad.com/kalecki43.pdf

        “… would cause social and political changes which would give a new impetus to the opposition of the business leaders. The “sack” would cease to play its role as a disciplinary measure. The social position of the boss would be undermined, and the self-assurance and class-consciousness of the working class would grow. . . . “Discipline in the factories” and “political stability” are more appreciated than profits by business leaders. Their class instinct tells them that lasting full employment is unsound from their point of view, and that unemployment is an integral part of the “normal” capitalist system.”

  9. der says:

    “If that happens Kemp will be hoisted on his own petard and people may be reevaluating why they didn’t vote for Abrams.”

    The wheels of government grind slowly. November 3rd is not a long time off. There is an opportunity here for the Biden campaign and Democrats running in Red State elections if they care to seize it.

  10. biff murphy says:

    It’s insane, this must be the new republican talking point. Hewitt did an article in the post today
    pretty much slamming unions and public employees. I believe the original Moscow Mitch comments about state bankruptcy were made last week on Hewitts radio show. Always one to incite the rabble, Hewitt doubled down today.
    The GOP won’t be happy until they finish
    Ronny Ray-guns job of eliminating the middle class at their own peril…

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/25/what-mcconnell-cuomo-debate-is-really-about/

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Campaign Briefing: What happened to the WONDERFUL General Flynn – and the president to whom he reported – should never again be allowed to happen in America.

    El presidente “invented” the best economy in the world. For once, the Don is right: he invented it, because it didn’t and doesn’t exist. “I built the greatest economy the world has ever seen.” He had to “turn it off” to get it to where it is today. Donny Trump remains, “the kindest, warmest, bravest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.” If there’s any blame going around – and there should be plenty – Donny Trump is the last guy who should be blamed for anything. Right.

    America has wonderful testing, we’re lapping the world in testing. We have the best testing in the world. no one has more than America. I would call that dementia. But Trump’s lies are intentional, perverse, cruel, and ugly. Mike Pence let loose with a pressure stream of manure about testing and how well we’re doing, and how much China is to blame for Everything.

    • P J Evans says:

      They’re trying to blame it all on China because telling the truth requires admitting that they fucked up, starting with shutting down the pandemic planning group and ending with taking all of two months to admit it was a problem in the US. They’re still avoiding responsibility for not getting production of equipment going much much earlier, and putting all the responsibility on states even while they refuse to fund the many things states are having to pay for because the feds won’t do their own jobs.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In a day or two, official US deaths owing to Covid-19 will exceed the official US death count from Vietnam. Shirley, the Park Service is marking the Mall now for the ground needed for the Trump Dead Memorial – a huge hamster wheel with the names etched into the plates that pass from head to hand to foot. They’ll need more than one.

    • jerryy says:

      For right or wrong, the soldiers that lost their lives in another land.during the Viet Nam conflict were armed and trained to fight. 58,000.

      Under Trump’s “War Time Presidency”, the casualties all died on American soil and all are un-armed civilians. More than 58,000.

      ps. While Ms McGrath may appreciate the vote of confidence, Kentucky’s primary is not until June. There are three main contenders vying for the nomination — Amy McGrath, Charles Booker and Mike Broihier.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah. And McGrath has a compelling story in many regards, but not all. She is likely the best funded candidate, and has the best national name recognition, if one is to trust national coverage, not positive that is the case or that I do. Any input on that vis a vis the other two? Would love to hear about that from somebody there.

        • jerryy says:

          Hmm, I guess it would have to be split into before / after the virus struck.

          BTV.
          Ms McGrath was the early candidate, with mainstream (national party backing). But not likely to easily win. Charles Booker and Mike Broihier were making huge gains in eastern Kentucky due to the problems in coal mining because one mine decided to go bankrupt, ship out lots of coal, collect the money and not pay any of the miners. The miners went on strike and blocked the shipments. it was – is a big mess. Ms. McGrath did not do much (visibly) in that regard, but her opponents stepped up with programs to help the miners in the short term as well as get them on board with green-based job training. These two have made green based initiatives acceptable in that area.

          AFV, the national party came in with lots of financing (read between the lines here as you wish) and she is the presumed front runner as the other two campaigns are losing some ground not being able to meet the groups face to face any more. Those meetings were their success.

          Ms McGrath is well liked by the right of center – right Democratic party folks to take on McConnell. So AFV, she is now funded, more so than her competition AND more son than MCConnell. But that is a bit of problem for her, in that why vote for younger McConnell lite when you can have soon-to-be very old McConnell full?

          Western Kentucky is still very much in play for the nomination between the three. Louisville and Lexington probably will split.

          • bmaz says:

            Thanks for the reply, and that is very much why I asked. Am not sure how to put it properly, but something about McGrath reminds me too much of Martha McSally here, and it is not just their military backgrounds. Could be totally wrong about that. As an aside, my mother’s family came out of Murray, and I spent a month or so there every summer until I was a teenager. Love the western part of KY.

    • harpie says:

      Steve Vladeck, mentioned that up-coming milestone the other day:

      https://twitter.com/steve_vladeck/status/1253661681558982656
      8:26 AM · Apr 24, 2020

      Sometime this weekend, we’re likely to pass 58,220 reported US deaths from #Covid19 (we may already be there in light of *unreported* deaths)—in 2+ months.

      To put into context just how staggering that total is, 58,220 Americans died fighting in the war in Vietnam—over 15+ years.

      NY Mag’s Olivia Nuzzi actually asked Trump to respond to that comparison at yesterday’s Pro-vid rally:

      https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1254903058783404033
      6:39 PM · Apr 27, 2020

      [email protected]: If a POTUS loses more Americans over six weeks than died in the Vietnam War, does he deserve to be reelected? [not sure if this is a direct quote]

      TRUMP: “If you look at what the original projections were, 2.2 million — we’re probably headed to 60,000, 70,000 …we’ve made a lot of good decisions.” [VIDEO]

      • harpie says:

        Here’s the full question:
        “If an American president loses more Americans over the course of six weeks than died over the entirety of the Vietnam War, does he deserve to be reelected?”

      • Mulder says:

        And not surprisingly, it was the last question he took. He knew the followups were not going to be any friendlier.

  13. AndTheSlithyToves says:

    “I would like you to do us a favor, though.”

    Damn! Another great Emptywheel t-shirt concession opportunity!

  14. cd54 says:

    Sorry if off topic:

    The ONLY question which any person with the access/ability to question Trump should ask is this:

    “WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DEATHS FROM THIS NATIONAL PANDEMIC ASSAULT ON AMERICAN LIVES?

    • madwand says:

      He would say no, Trump is and always has been on the authority side of authority/responsibility, he understands he is in charge, in fact he will brag about it every day. He maintains he has no responsibility for what he causes either by action or inaction unless it happens to make him look good, then he caused it. For those of us who have been reading about him since at least the 70s we really need no confirmation bias. Trump fails to meet the low standards he sets for himself.

  15. harpie says:

    Senator Chris Murphy of Ct. emphasized Cuomo’s response to McConnell’s “blue state bailout” accusation:

    https://twitter.com/ChrisMurphyCT/status/1254805481912139778
    12:11 PM · Apr 27, 2020

    Kentucky gets $45 BILLION more in federal funding than they pay in taxes.
    New York pays $21 BILLION more in taxes than they get from the feds.
    So effectively every year NY writes a $21B check to KY.
    But helping pay for pandemic response is a blue state bailout.
    Got it.

    He got this response from someone who says she’s “tucky born”:

    https://twitter.com/audreyas/status/1254876775718543368
    4:55 PM · Apr 27, 2020

    Replying to @ChrisMurphyCT
    Putting state against state like this is so toxic. Many people in Kentucky are disenfranchised, suppressed, and poor. We’re not rolling around in billions of dollars we stole from NY. Just because McConnell sucks doesn’t mean the entire working class in KY should just get fucked.

    He’s been the senator since before I was born, frustration with him is part of daily life so I completely understand. I’m personally frustrated with the rhetoric coming from people like Chris Murphy and Andrew Cuomo—it’s this attitude that makes it hard for Dems to win in KY

    As David Frum says in the excerpt Marcy quoted:

    United States senators from smaller, poorer red states do not only represent their states. Often, they do not even primarily represent their states. They represent, more often, the richest people in bigger, richer blue States who find it more economical to invest in less expensive small-state races.
    [list of McConnell’s wealthy and powerful NOT-“TUCKY” backers] […]

  16. Jenny says:

    Thank you Senator Murphy: “We are one nation and we should help each other out in times of need.”

    “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”
    Mahatma Gandhi

Comments are closed.