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In a speech on the Senate floor today, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell  of Kentucky will praise and welcome a group of Tea Party protesters rallying on Capitol Hill.

Politico has a preview of the speech, which comes after Senate President Harry Reid blamed the Tea Party from blocking compromises in congress.

“In my view, the tea party has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the most important issues of the day,” McConnell, of Kentucky, will say, according to prepared remarks. “It’s helped focus the debate. It’s provided a forum for Americans who felt left out of the process to have a voice and make a difference. And it’s already leading to good results.”

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul continued his book tour this week, appearing on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The 15-minute interview (in three parts—1,2,3) covers current issues and the philosophical differences on government between Stewart and Paul. The second part, specifically, deals with the cause and effects of the recession, and whether budget crises federally and in the states are the result of government overspending or the economic slump.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul was on the Late Show with David Letterman Thursday night.

Paul was promoting his new book “The Tea Party Goes to Washington.” Letterman asked the Senator about the Tea Party platform, and the conversation centered largely around tax cuts for wealthy Americans. It started with Letterman making a joke about Paul’s decision to wear jeans with a tie and blazer and ended with a brief discussion of education funding and the protests in Wisconsin. You can watch the whole clip online.

On a side note, while discussing the advantages of the private sector, Paul said Letterman can do better because he has to compete with other late night hosts. This set Letterman up for a joke about Jay Leno, but for astute public radio listeners, the conversation may be familiar. New York Times correspondent Bill Carter—who has written two books about late night television, one of which centers on the Letterman/Leno feud for the Tonight Show—recently discussed late night TV competition on The Sound of Young America. Carter says increased competition has made a few new stars (Letterman, Conan O’Brien, their writing staffs), it’s also hurt late night in general by splintering the audience and ultimately weakening the power of the Tonight Show. Carter certainly wasn’t arguing for state-run comedy shows or regulations on how many shows there can be, but his story connects to Paul’s argument in an interesting way.

Freshman Kentucky Senator Rand Paul continues his push to cut $500 billion from the federal budget.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Paul, a Republican, spoke for the Tea Party Caucus  “Bring on the cuts! And then, bring on more!”

Paul’s budget plan would cut billions from the departments of education, housing and agriculture, among others. It puts him and his Tea Party Caucus (which is a minority in the Senate and in the GOP) at odds with both major parties, which are championing different spending plans.

State Senator Dan Seum sent a letter and survey to his constituents recently saying he was opposed to “liberal power-grabs.” The survey poses questions on several topics, including:

  • Amend Kentucky’s Constitution to allow you to choose your health care insurance rather than being forced into a government “public option” system controlled by bureaucrats in Washington DC
  • Amend Kentucky’s Constitution protecting public displays of religion, including the Ten Commandments, as part of a display of historic documents
  • Require a woman considering an abortion to have a “face-to-face” meeting with a doctor to discuss medical risks rather than listening to a recorded message on a telephone or watching a video
  • Promote “clean coal technology” to ensure an energy independent America uses Kentucky coal


Even though he campaigned as an outsider, there are some political trends Senator-elect Rand Paul appears unable to avoid. He will follow in the footsteps of hundreds of his political forebears by releasing a book.

From the C-J:

“In The Tea Party Goes to Washington, Rand Paul presents his plan—and the Tea Party’s platform—to bring the U.S. government more in line with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, to stop spending money the country doesn’t have, to stop borrowing, to balance the budget and reduce the size of the government,” the press release says.
There is no word on where Paul’s book will be available.

First, a look at the future. A Tea Party Unity convention planned for Las Vegas (the center of a Senate race where Tea Party-fueled Republican Sharron Angle is facing Majority Leader Harry Reid) has been cancelled.

From the New York Times:

Sponsored by Tea Party Nation, a social networking site, the convention was supposed to emphasize Tea Party groups working together — a contrast to the convention in February, which was plagued by infighting among groups, with sponsors and speakers dropping out right up until its opening hours. Organizers chose Las Vegas not least because it is the center of the Senate race that Tea Party activists would most dearly love to win: Sharron Angle, a Republican supported by Tea Party groups, is challenging Harry Reid, the leader of the Democratic majority.

Barbee Kinnison, a Tea Party activist in Las Vegas who had been helping organize the convention, sent an e-mail to supporters saying that it was with “deep sorrow” that she had to announce “the convention is just not going to happen.”

Tea Party Nation still draws scorn from some other Tea Party groups, which have raised eyebrows at asking people to spend more than $200 to attend a convention, so it was not clear what this said about the strength of the movement. Tea Party Patriots, a large umbrella for about 2,700 local Tea Party groups nationwide, had criticized the media attention on the convention in February, saying it was not a real representation of Tea Party activism.

The February convention referenced in the NYT piece drew about 600 delegates (and nearly as many reporters, the Times says). Three hundred attendees are expected this weekend, as the Coffee Party holds its first-ever convention in Louisville.

I talked with Coffee Party co-founder Eric Byler about the convention this week. He says his group is not partisan, but does favor calm, rational discourse. (He says that approach has led the party to endorse certain legislation.) Byler said he welcomes last-minute attendees, but wanted to keep the event moderate. He added that it’s sometimes difficult to get people fired up over calm conversation.

At a recent rally, Democratic candidate for mayor Greg Fischer called Republican candidate Hal Heiner an extremist (skip to the two minute mark in the video). In a debate Monday (mp3 of the full debate), Fischer said Heiner has repeatedly been a voice of “No” on the Metro Council.

These statements mirror those of many Democrats running for (or defending) federal seats against Republicans. It’s not entirely unexpected to see them here. Heiner is, of course, a Republican, and Fischer seems keen to remind the Democrats who are supporting Heiner (a large amount according to polls, though still a minority) that they are supporting a GOP candidate. That may be working to a degree, but Heiner can counter with two Democratic endorsements: Shannon White and Tyler Allen. Addressing questions of his record, Heiner has repeatedly said he does support libraries and he will enforce the Fairness Ordinance.

We could also discuss the affect of other local contests. Metro Council and State Senate races in the south end might bring out Democrats and independents eager for change, or Republicans supporting incumbents. The 6th District race could push more Democrats to the polls.

Another note from the Monday debate–independent Jackie Green continues to press Heiner and Fischer on environmental and sustainability issues. Green has said he wants to bring new topics into the debate, and that goal is easier for him to accomplish when he’s given one-third of the speaking time at forums.

After David Adams left Republican Rand Paul‘s Senate campaign, the former campaign director said he was working with a GOP gubernatorial ticket that would likely gain Tea Party support.

The ticket was announced today:

Phil Moffett, co-founder and managing partner of the Louisville-based telecom management company CCS Partners, is running for governor, and his running mate for lieutenant governor is Rep. Mike Harmon of Boyle County.


Moffett has been a board member of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, an independent research and educational institution for the state’s public policy issues.

He also is co-founder and serves on the board of directors of School CHOICE Scholarships of Kentucky Inc., a privately funded school-choice program providing scholarships to low-income families to allow their children to attend private schools.


Harmon, a loan officer, has been a member of the state House since 2003. He is vice chair of the Tourism Development and Energy Committee and has a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University.

State Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson said the Moffett-Harmon announcement “is encouraging in that conservative Republicans are stepping forward to challenge a very vulnerable governor who has not earned the support of Kentucky voters to seek a second term.”

Speculation is high on which other Republicans may enter the race. Democratic Governor Steve Beshear is seeking a second term, with Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson also on the ticket.

Members of the Glenn Beck-inspired 9/12 Project have set up a Vacation Liberty School in Georgetown, Kentucky.

The C-J visited the class:

On Monday, the first night of Vacation Liberty School, the basement of the church was converted into a tyrannical kingdom meant to resemble colonial England where students were told they must suppress their laughter, sit apart from their friends and flawlessly recite “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

Against the urgings of a mock king’s representative, the brave ones ventured through the rugged terrain of a maze of upside-down tables discovered an adjoining room with all the luxuries of the New World. There they could play basketball, toss beanbags and ride a teeter-totter while being showered with confetti as Neil Diamond’s “Coming To America” blared over the speakers.

The school’s founders say it’s an answer to the liberal influence they see in public schools. But if this is a political school in a church, there could be trouble.

Joe Conn, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, isn’t so sure [the school isn’t indoctrinating politics]. A news release announcing the school referenced the tea party, leading him to believe that if the Vacation Liberty School isn’t crossing the line into politics, it’s coming close.

“All Americans want kids to learn about the government and political system,” he said. “It’s something quite different when kids are being indoctrinated in church in one political tradition. That’s quite different from learning objectively and academically about civics.”

He cautions Gano Baptist could risk losing its tax-exempt status if explicit political lessons are being taught in a church setting.

But the Rev. Wayne Lipscomb, the pastor there, says he had no political motivations for allowing the classes to be held without a rental fee. Tickets were distributed online for free.

“I think our kids need to know about the Founding Fathers and they need to understand the connection between God and the Founding Fathers,” he said. “They don’t need to hear the revisionists’ stories of history.”

Religion as it relates to the founding fathers is a touch subject, to say the least. It’s one of those all-too-common times when historical interpretation splits on party lines, and colonial history especially divisive right now. Maybe we’ll see new interpretations of Thomas Paine‘s Age of Reason.

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