In Other News… Grimes/McConnell, fairness in Berea, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, and Lawrence buys a house

Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Alison Lundergan Grimes.

And We Have Ourselves a Ball Game: Last week, I reported that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pulled its dollars out of Kentucky, leaving Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes alone to take on Republican incumbent senator, Mitch McConnell.

I didn’t really report it, per se; more reported that other people reported it and then gave some editorial perspective, but that’s what “In Other News…” is.

And I think I wrote in one of my earliest columns that contemporary politics being so analogous to sports is one of the big things killing progress and discourse and yet I’ve done it right there in the heading.

“A rose is a rose is a rose,” I guess.

Here nor there. Looks like the DSCC is back in, says Politico, The Washington Times, International Business Times, with $650,000 worth of ads poised to hit the airwaves.

Real Clear Politics has the race listed as a “Toss Up.” The Christian Science Monitor thinks the race is close but has McConnell winning.

The Washington Post thinks it comes down to this: “People don’t like Mitch McConnell. That’s why Alison Lundergan Grimes still has a shot.” They cite a new Western Kentucky University poll that puts the two neck-and-neck.

From the Post:

The most interesting part of the poll, though, is how very few people are actually voting for Grimes. Rather, 60 percent of Grimes supporters say their vote is more about casting a ballot against McConnell than casting one for Grimes. Just 34 percent of Grimes backers said their vote will be more in support of the Democrat.

Voters for McConnell, meanwhile, are much more likely to say it’s about supporting the incumbent (62 percent) than opposing Grimes (33 percent)…

Whatever the case, it’s pretty clear that the Kentucky Senate contest is a race to the bottom, and in politics, getting people to vote against something is much easier than getting them to vote for something.

Which is more or less what we’ve been talking about these last few weeks.

And Bill Clinton came back to Kentucky, attempting to bang the drum of support, says San Francisco Chronicle(AP), MSNBC and Los Angeles Times.

Bill Clinton and Alison Lundergan Grimes

Bill Clinton and Alison Lundergan Grimes

Notice anything unusual about that AP photo? Her opponent’s name is larger and more prominent than her own on her podium placard. Which drives that earlier point home a bit.

Regardless of the whys and wherefores, this one, as we imagined, is coming down to the final stretch. Which, God help me—is another sports analogy.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post picks up on IL writer Joe Sonka’s piece on former McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton’s compensation and bribery scandal. Benton reportedly made over $500,000 working for McConnell.

From the Post:

To put Benton’s compensation into further perspective:

— It’s more than double McConnell’s annual $193,400 Senate salary.

— It’s more than double what President Obama campaign manager Jim Messina made in 2012.

— It’s more than Obama’s annual $400,000 salary.

That price tag seems to be most oft attributed to fears of a once more powerful Tea Party, Benton’s swagger within the movement, and McConnell’s need for said swagger.

Benton resigned in August due to a probe looking into allegations of an endorsement-pay-scheme to do with the campaigns of Michelle Bachman in Minn. and Kentucky.

Whole Foods/Cracker Barrel, pt. 2: Last week, we talked about the political divide in America as seen by total number of Whole Foods Stores operating in an area versus the number of Cracker Barrels. And that piece summed up the argument as that of an “Organic/Nostalgic Divide.”

This week, an op-ed piece in The New York Times looks at “The Battle for Gay Rights in Rural America” though a similar lens.

Silas House of Berea talks about the city’s recent vote against an ordinance to “ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

From the piece:

The vote illuminates a new reality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. The equality divide we face is no longer between red and blue states, but between urban and rural America. Even as we celebrate victories like this month’s Supreme Court order on same-sex marriage, the real front in the battle for equality remains the small towns that dot America’s landscape.


The more the issue of gay rights makes progress nationally, the more fear is stirred up in the bellies of small towns. Too many preachers and politicians, refusing to trust their constituents or congregants to come to their own conclusions, feed on that fear, creating an endless cycle.

So I predict when the aliens come, the conversation is going to go a little like this:

“So, no, wait—are you actually telling us you used, and in some cases continue to use, subtle nuances in biology to subjugate and ostracize productive members of your own society? Huh. Fascinating.”

And then they will not want to be our friends; they will elect to eat us instead.

Rescue Dog: We travel to Corbin, Ky., for this one. The Huffington Post, The Telegraph, TheAnimalRescueSite and The Irish Independent tell the story of  James Wathen. Hospitalized a month ago, he unexpectedly took a turn for the worse and had little to no appetite. Doctors had no answer. Turns out, the 73-year-old was missing his dog, a one-eyed Chihuahua by the name of Bubba.

James had given Bubba to a nearby shelter for care, only that seemed to backfire—Bubba missed James so much he had stopped eating, too.

And so the staff searched for the dog and arranged a reunion:

From The Huffington Post:

“He was so sad at first. We had him wrapped in a baby blanket and he was shivering,” Smyth recalled of the reunion. “The minute we got about 20 steps from this guy’s room — I kid you not — his little head went up. His eyes got real bright and he was like a different dog.”

She probably meant “his eye got real bright…”

Snark on a one-eyed dog that just saved a guy is probably not my finest moment.


Both James and Bubba have made a turnaround and appear to be “getting better,” according to the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter.