Op-Ed

Is this who Kentuckians really are?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump after their Oct. 16 meeting at the White House.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump after their Oct. 16 meeting at the White House. AP

President Donald Trump awards himself a 10 on response to the hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

No administration, he says, has ever done such a great job, though 80 per cent of Puerto Rico is without electricity. “We did a fantastic job,” he said of the Puerto Rico response. It is like a high school freshman giving himself an “A” after failing volleyball. I doubt Trump could find 10 people in all of Puerto Rico who would give him a 10.

I wonder what grade he would give the three Kentucky congressmen who voted against relief money for the suffering survivors?

I heard the word “callous” in reference to the congressmen’s votes. No, their votes were not callous. They were in support of a form of genocide by forcing a largely Latino population they do not like to drink poisoned water. Webster defines callous as “emotionally hardened, unfeeling.” This was something far worse than unfeeling.

The votes of Kentucky congressmen Republicans Andy Barr (Lexington), James Comer (Paducah, Tompkinsville) and Thomas Massie (Ashland, Crescent Springs) didn’t really matter as the House approved support for hurricane victims by an overwhelming 353-69, so what did they gain except showing they have no heart?

The question we are faced with is this: Do these congressmen, so hardened and unfeeling, represent the people in their districts (the Bluegrass, far Western Kentucky, Northern and northeastern Kentucky) who voted for them in masses? My view of their votes is that every dollar saved from people suffering is another dollar for their millionaire contributors.

Does Trump deserve credit for shortchanging Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to save taxpayer money he can give to the top one percent of Americans in tax breaks? The average Kentuckian would save, what, $200 a year, from his or her tax break, while Trump’s family would save upwards to a billion dollars if he is anywhere near what he says he is worth.

This is a tax break for Trump and his, not you and yours.

Are Kentucky voters this stupid? I often requote the woman from Pikeville who told The New York Times she would vote for our right-wing nut Gov. Matt Bevin and the mentally unbalanced Donald Trump even though she knew they were going to take away the only insurance she could ever afford, Obamacare.

If she has children or grandchildren she got her wish recently when the Republicans refused to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (known as KCHIP in Kentucky) which provides health insurance to 9 million American children. Let’s see what she thinks when they take away her Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and disability payments that may be keeping some in her family out of the poor house.

Kentuckians still face the question: Do Republicans represent the character, the respect of our fellow man and woman, the honor we feel for those who are not as fortunate as some of us? I am convinced they do not. They do not give a whit about the person on the ladder a rung below them. What could be more clear in Republican thinking than to know that Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell were going to take the $800 billion saved in killing Obamacare and give it to the richest one percent of Americans?

If you are among the richest one percent, go for it. If you are the rest of us, vote to throw them out hook, line and sinker in the 2018 and 2020 elections.

The votes of Barr, Comer and Massie against hurricane relief was more than callous. Each vote was a matter of life and death. The Latinos of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, all of them U.S. citizens, are dying from lack of clean drinking water and suffering in 100 degree-plus heat with no electricity because the Republicans do not care about them. They do not have to build a wall around them. Letting them drink contaminated water and die of heat exhaustion will do the job just fine.

Do you think this would be happening in North Carolina or South Carolina, the nation’s red hotbeds of Republican hatred still so widely spread by Donald Trump?

No, they would be awash in the cleanest bottled water Trump’s son could make a dollar a bottle off of.

Does anyone out there think that Trump and McConnell have made up after calling their mothers bad names? No, it is clear by any measure they hate each others’ guts. But they will stay together as long as it keeps McConnell head of the Republicans, his pretty wife sitting by Trump in Cabinet photo ops, and Trump ruler of the world.

All they care about is 2020. McConnell takes a beating like no other Senate majority leader in our history. House Speaker Paul Ryan is such a little boy in an adult choir he just stays quiet. Can you imagine how hard Senate Leader Lyndon Johnson or House Speaker Tip O’Neill would have smacked that bunch of twerps in the mouth? Wouldn’t you love to have seen Lyndon twist Trump’s little hands down to size in the Oval Office?

Keeping the House, the Senate, the presidency and the Supreme Court is all they care about. It is not war with Korea. Not the war on Social Security or turning the environment over to energy barons.

No, it is about staying in power. The election in 2020 is what we all should be thinking about. Talk of impeachment is silly. Democrats do not have the votes and Republicans do not have the guts.

Frank Ashley of Lexington, a former Courier-Journal reporter, served as press secretary for two governors. Reach him at famedia@aim.com.

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