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Bush league politics

February 26, 2010 - Mike Donahey

Baseball and politics.
Odd bedfellows for some, but not for me.
I follow both closely and I’ve written about them in Marshall Times and Past Times.
I've volunteered for political campaigns and contributed money to Democrat and Republican candidates. I've coached Little League in two different communities and with the Marshalltown Girls Softball Association.
As the late Casey Stengel, veteran manager of the Yankees and Mets used to say, “you can look it up.”
Which brings me to the subject at hand.
Jim Bunning (R-KY) is in the news and its not becoming of him.
Bunning was an All-Star pitcher years ago. He is one of the few pitchers to throw a no-hitter in both the American and National League.
(Quick, without looking it up, name the teams he pitched for throwing the no-hitters.)
I admired his baseball skills as a kid. As an adult, I don’t like what he is trying to do now in the Senate.
According to press reports, “he is waging a lone battle to block the (Senate) from voting to extend unemployment benefits and COBRA subsidies for the jobless, highway and transit programs, the compulsory copyright license used by satellite TV and the federal flood insurance program for 30 days.”
Bunning reportedly said he wanted to know how the benefits extension was going to be paid. No doubt other federal funds benefiting Kentucky in some form, are still being sent by Washington. And I wonder if Bunning is questioning how those allotments are being paid. According to a March 1 report from ABC News, Bunning prefers that unspent stimulus funds be used for the extensions. Regardless, It's bush league, holding up the unemployment benefits for people struggling to make ends meet.
Extending benefits has been a bipartisan effort throughout this recession.
Unemployed people don’t need the additional stress of wondering how to pay bills without unemployment benefits.
Nationally, that's one million people.
In Iowa this means 75,000 lost their benefits Sunday.
I don’t know how many central Iowans are in included in that number, but I do know that demands at Marshalltown’s House of Compassion supply closet are up 20 percent this year and requests for assistance at the Salvation Army are up 28 percent.
Accordingly, I would suspect its unemployed folks who are using the resources of both to get by.
I would expect the unemployed in Kentucky are also using similar organizations, again, to get by.
In his 2004 re-election campaign Bunning did three things which, like his hold on unemployment benefits, made him stand out and none were becoming.
According to USA Today, Bunning compared the appearance of his opponent – Dennis Mongiardo – to one of Saddam Hussein’s sons. Additionally, Bunning made an unsubstantiated claim that his wife wound up “black and blue’ after an alleged encounter with his rival’s staffers at a political picnic.
Anyone who participated in high school debate will like the next one.
In his only "debate" with Mongiardo, Bunning participated from the Republican National Committee offices in Washington and the campaign later acknowledged he used a TelePrompTer for some remarks.
TelePrompTers have been commonly used in political speeches, business presentations and the like.
The late Richard Nixon received much criticism for his style in the 1960 presidential debates with John Kennedy. But Nixon was never accused of using a TelePromTer.
Bunning won the close and bitterly fought election 51 percent to 49 percent. Much too close for a veteran politician like Bunning against a political unknown. However, the Senator announced his retirement. He won't be up for re-election this year. Evidently, holding up people's unemployment benefits is something one can do if you aren't facing the voters again. And when asked a question by an ABC reporter as to his reasoning for holding up the benefits on Monday, he didn't answer.

He did give his reasoning on the Senate floor later.

There's more.

ABC Senate producer Z. Bryon Wolf said he asked Bunning to talk to the ABC cameras. Bunning walked toward the "Senators Only Elevator and allegedly shot the middle finger over his head.





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