Kentucky editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:
The Courier-Journal of Louisville on Mitch McConnell as U.S. Senate majority leader:
Mitch McConnell is failing as majority leader of the Senate. Worse, he is failing to defend our democracy.
Such may be his legacy.
We find it disturbing that he had a tepid reaction — at best — to the news that Donald Trump Jr.; the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and campaign manager Paul Manafort met with a Russian operative who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign.
When asked about it repeatedly, McConnell said only, “The investigation in the Senate is being handled by the Intelligence Committee and I’m sure they’ll get to the bottom of whatever may have happened.”
That’s not to suggest that the senator hasn’t shown a willingness to break ranks with the president. When Trump challenged U.S. intelligence findings on Russian election meddling, McConnell said he had high confidence in the intelligence community.
But where is he now — now that there’s a connection between the Trump campaign and Russia’s efforts to subvert the election. The president’s son released emails that show he was eager to get the dirt on Clinton in the hopes of delivering a killer blow and win the election for his daddy. The words conspiracy, criminal and treason come to mind.
Over several days, Trump Jr. has changed his story.
But from McConnell, there was not even a sideways swipe at the Trump crew.
McConnell has been quick to play the “let’s not play politics” card, even on Russian hacking.
So, we won’t play that card, either.
Here’s what some Republicans are saying:
South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham: “This is very problematic.”
Maine Sen. Susan Collins said she wants Trump Jr. and others to testify before the intelligence committee.
Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said, “Now if anybody conspired with them (Russia), I think they ought to be held accountable, but we don’t know anything yet.”
Arizona Sen. John McCain said, “It’s certainly another shoe that’s dropped that needs to be pursued and looked at.”
Meanwhile, in Kentucky, our jaws are dropping at McConnell’s weak reaction.
Lexington Herald-Leader on President Donald Trump threatening to launch trade wars that could hurt Kentucky’s economy:
Kentucky’s Republican leaders have relentlessly pounded an economic drum this year, pushing through a host of laws they say will boost business, attract companies and produce more and better-paying jobs.
They removed worker protections, enacted tax exemptions, even flat-out gave away money in the drive to make Kentucky business friendly.
But here’s what’s strange: They have remained largely silent as a president of their own party threatens to launch trade wars that can only undercut their efforts by hurting Kentucky’s struggling economy.
If President Donald Trump raises tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, as he’s threatened, one of the leading possible targets for retaliation is Kentucky bourbon.
This has led to a raft of stories and commentaries locally and nationally with headlines like, “Will Trump kill the bourbon boom?” in the New York Times.
Anyone who has ever watched the private jets parked at Blue Grass Airport during horse sales or traced the growth of bourbon sales abroad knows international trade matters here.
But few probably realize how deep and broad Kentucky’s connections are to the international economy. Consider these facts from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development:
? 450 international companies from 33 nations operate in our state.
? Last year, $29.2 billion in Kentucky goods were sold to 199 countries.
? Exports supported 140,352 Kentucky jobs, many in 3,655 small- and medium-sized firms.
? United States free-trade agreements accounted for $11.7 billion in exports in 2015, up 52 percent since 2005.
Exports support Kentucky’s rural communities, with sales of soybeans, corn, feed grains, tobacco and livestock accounting for $2.1 billion in sales in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Three of our largest trading partners — Canada, Mexico and China — rest squarely in Trump’s sights as he beats a drum for U.S. economic isolation and a very limited vision of self-interest, whether through tariffs or renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
The Business Roundtable, an organization of leading U.S. CEOs, reported that in 2014 Kentucky exported $7.7 billion worth of goods to Canada (our largest customer), $2.5 billion to Mexico and $2 billion to China.
The roundtable makes a bland, but convincing, case for keeping trade routes as open as possible: “With more than 95 percent of the world’s population and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power outside the United States, future economic growth and jobs,” depend on expanded trade.
There are subtleties in the trade equation, of course, as the Louisvillle Courier-Journal’s Joe Gerth pointed out in a recent column.
Gov. Matt Bevin decided to invest $15 million of taxpayer money in a private venture to build an aluminum plant in Northeastern Kentucky. If Trump imposes a tariff on foreign aluminum that will be a boon for the plant, its employees and, presumably, state investment in the operation.
However, a retaliatory tariff on bourbon would slam another, longstanding industry, its employees and investors.
It’s equally clear that Trump’s protectionist instincts threaten a broad swath of Kentucky’s economy and tens of thousands of jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and other sectors. Our leaders must speak up for the state’s workers and businesses.
Daily News of Bowling Green on the state’s metropolises separation from the rest of Kentucky:
The cities of Louisville and Lexington have proven time after time that they are way out of touch with the rest of Kentucky.
Those who run these northern Kentucky cities are elitists and have no sense of the rest of this beautiful state or its people. Kentucky is full of traditions, values and morals. Those not living in the southern city with northern ideals or Lexington enjoy the clean fresh air, the beauty of nature and having places close by to go fishing and hunting; not the smog, concrete, crime and noise congestion - or the politics, for that matter - of these two cities.
It’s worth noting, when it comes to politics in the 2016 presidential election, that Jefferson and Fayette counties, where these two cities are located, were the only two counties in Kentucky that voted for Hillary Clinton over President Donald Trump. These numbers are very telling about the politics of these cities.
It now appears that the leaders of these two cities think they can ignore state law because the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation they didn’t like earlier this year. Our state passed a new religious expression law that prohibits school officials from punishing students for wearing religious messages on their clothes and expressing religious or political beliefs in homework, artwork and speeches. It would also prevent school officials from regulating student organizations, including the selection of members and “doctrines and principles.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has banned state-sponsored travel to Kentucky and several other states because he believes the law is discriminatory. In response, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray sent Becerra letters requesting a restriction waiver for their cities, citing their openness and inclusiveness.
We didn’t realize that these two cities had seceded from the state. Secession didn’t work out all that well the last time it was attempted in our country.
It’s worth noting that Bercerra rejected both mayors’ requests. Once again, the requests by these two very liberal mayors suggest they are elitists who believe they deserve special treatment. Well, they don’t deserve any more special treatment than the rest of the state does. Even if they don’t like state law that was passed by a majority of legislators, it still applies to their cities until such time as it is repealed or struck down by the courts.
Louisville Metro Councilman Brandon Coan responded to Bercerra’s travel restriction with a tweet saying, “Louisville is not Kentucky, sir.”
It seems likely that geography is not Coan’s strong suit, or perhaps it was not part of the curriculum when he attended school. We venture to guess that Coan’s views are not even shared by some of his own constituents. We believe a majority of Kentuckians outside this metro area have a different point of view.