Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Fancy Farm Expected to Provide a Spicy Diet for Political Spectators

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

In Virginia, it’s called shad planking – an annual springtime event that started in the 1930s near Smithfield to mark the start of the James River fishing season. Imagine the voice of the late Julia Child here: “Shad is an oily, bony fish that, on this occasion, is smoked on wood planks over an open flame. Most palates will recoil in dismay at first bite, rather than tingle in delight.”

Perhaps the main course left Virginians’ appetites unfulfilled, so in the late 1940s locals added side dishes of political gossip and grandstanding to keep mouths occupied. According to Larry Sabato, the founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, the one-day political festival has evolved into a more Republican-dominated event for which office-seeking Democrats choose to take a pass. “It’s very similar to Fancy Farm,” says Sabato referring to the annual summertime barbeque and political picnic in western Kentucky.

I suspect Fancy Farm’s menu is more of a crowd-pleaser than Virginia’s plank-o-shad. I would also venture that Kentucky’s stump bests Virginia’s when it comes to political aggrandizing before an often-rambunctious crowd eager to pounce when the rhetoric flies. Mother Nature’s forecast for this weekend’s Fancy Farm picnic calls for a good probability of storms. Yet neither rain nor hail nor dark of skies will encumber the candidates eyeing the seat of Kentucky’s senior senator, or the man himself.

Three seasons will change before we even get to the primary next May, but national political pundits expect Kentucky’s U.S. Senate contest to be the marquee race in the 2014 election cycle. The field of contenders challenging Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell widened last week with the entrance of Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin to seek the GOP nomination. On Tuesday of this week, Democrat and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes officially launched her campaign in Lexington, giving her “I don’t scare easy” speech to a crowd of nearly 1,500 supporters chanting to ditch or switch from Mitch.

I spent some time with Dr. Sabato in Virginia last week to explore why we’re already fixated on next year’s race, especially after just recuperating from last year’s ballot-boxing. Remember, this is supposedly an “off year” for elections. Yeah, right!

My interview with Sabato is just one way we’re fancying up our coverage of the 133rd annual Fancy Farm affair.

I also have interviews with James Carroll, the Washington bureau chief for The Courier-Journal, and Howard Fineman, who started his journalism career at the C-J and is now editorial director of the Huffington Post Media Group and frequent political analyst on NBC and MSNBC. I don’t want you to overindulge on this political feast too early, so I’ll save the Carroll and Fineman pieces for consumption tomorrow.

By the way, tune in to KET and this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. for exclusive live coverage and analysis of all the speeches. Bill Goodman and I will be perched on the green John Deere wagon waiting to greet you.

Rep. Thomas Massie the Freshmore: “Call Me Mr. K‘NO’W”

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Bill Goodman’s One to One interview with Rep. Thomas Massie airs on KET tonight at 6:30 ET.

Kentucky’s 4th District Rep. Thomas Massie began his service in Washington under a rare political scenario back in 2012. He won a special and general election on the same day to fill the vacancy left by retiring Congressman Geoff Davis. He was sworn into office immediately after the November election –a trajectory that explains the “freshmore” nomenclature.

In a crowded field of seven Republicans with the Tea Party winds and Greenbacks firmly at his back, Massie bested the two more politically well-heeled candidates: State Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington and Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore for the win last year. If the victory was a surprise to some political observers and pundits, imagine the shrills of disbelief when he refused to back John Boehner as Speaker of the House and subsequently voted ‘no’ on a Hurricane Sandy relief measure. Massie’s maverick moves of going rogue in the Republican Party have earned him the nickname “Mr. No.”

A relative newcomer to politics, Massie earned his first electoral victory in 2010 as Lewis County Judge/Executive. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineering graduate with two dozen patents under his belt, tells Bill Goodman tonight at 6:30 ET how he relies on his engineering background to analyze legislation. Rep. Massie says he doesn’t operate on intuition, but facts. He adds that his policy making motivations are not to broker deals, but mine solutions. He also complains of the lack of time lawmakers actually are afforded to read bills before acting and how the moniker of “Mr. No” needs some correcting.

Visitors to his Washington office get a blunt reminder of Rep. Massie’s top priority: debt reduction. A large flat screen monitor, showing nothing more than upward-ticking national debt numbers approaching $17 trillion, greets you as you enter his office in the Cannon House building. Assuming a minimalist spartan approach to office decorating that matches his preference for less government spending, the only Kentucky memento to be found is a hemp pillow with “My Old Kentucky Home” embroidered in black stitch. On a coffee table flanking his desk is a prominently displayed press release on hemp paper announcing his introduction of an industrial hemp bill on February 6th of this year. Most members of the Kentucky delegation are backing measures in Congress to legalize hemp or push for a federal waiver to allow Kentucky to grow it.

Bill Goodman talks with Rep. Massie about industrial hemp, immigration, why he thinks the sequester is a clumsy way of dealing with government spending, and why he’s frustrated by what he says are federal lawmakers’ “propensity to abandon ideology to pursue some fixed partisan goal.”

Watch the entire interview tonight at 6:30 ET on KET. Tomorrow night, the special One to One series with Kentucky’s federal delegation continues with Rep. Hal Rogers.

Rep. John Yarmuth: KY’s Lone Democratic Ranger in Washington

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Bill Goodman’s interview with Rep. John Yarmuth airs on KET tonight at 6:30 ET.

As a one-time legislative aide on Capitol Hill, newspaper publisher, television commentator and host, it would be safe to assume Louisvillian John Yarmuth had a pretty good warm-up before claiming a seat amongst the other 434 United States representatives back in 2006. Yarmuth’s victory back then against five-term GOP Congresswoman Anne Northup was due, in part, to a national wave of growing discontent over George W. Bush’s Iraq War.

Now, in his fourth term and the only democrat in the Kentucky congressional delegation, Yarmuth is sharply critical of the political molasses that mires even the most seemingly benign and simple measures.

Rep. Yarmuth, who defected from the Republican Party in 1985, scoffs at the unyielding gridlock in Washington and declares the system “irresponsive to problems, voter opinions or challenges.” “(Washington)…is not functioning with any degree of efficiency, and it’s giving the public a bad impression of our democracy and leaving them frustrated and unfulfilled,” he laments.

So, the logical follow-up by host Bill Goodman is ‘how to loosen gridlock’s grip?’  Yarmuth claims district apportionment has a lot to do with it in this clip from Bill’s interview.

On the sluggish pace of lawmaking, Yarmurth asserts that “… at its optimum, our system is designed to move at about 20 miles per hour, and the world’s moving at 100 miles per hour. We’ve got to figure out how to narrow that gap.”

In assessing President Obama’s second term agenda, Rep. Yarmuth says in one sense he’s very impressed with Obama’s outspokenness on a number of issues including gun legislation, immigration reform, early childhood education, and standing up for an increase in the minimum wage. But, Yarmuth reserves praise of Obama pending actions that result from the rhetoric.

As a member of the Gang of Eight working on the House version of an immigration bill in Congress, Yarmuth talks about the near-secret group that’s worked out of the press limelight to forge consensus and work toward a shared goal. He believes both parties are highly motivated to broker a deal, even though he anticipates some rough patches on the way to reaching a resolution.

Bill Goodman talks with Rep. Yarmuth about the practice of mountain top removal, sequestration and a Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014 tonight at 6:30 ET on KET. Tomorrow night, the special One to One series with Kentucky’s federal delegation continues with 4th District Rep. Thomas Massie.

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