Archive (2008)

Sunday Local and National News

Randy Kuhl attended the Hornell Lincoln Day Dinner last night.  No new word on whether he's running this Fall.

Today's New York Times has a story about Presidential earmarks.  Like a number of other Republicans, Kuhl has been stepping up the rhetoric on earmarks.  The Times article makes it clear, if it wasn't already, that there's more than a little political motivation in the Republicans' new-found religion on earmarks.

Biofuels are looking a little less wonderful after some scientific studies show that they increase, rather than decrease, greenhouse gas emissions.  This comes on top of earlier news that ethanol subsidies have pushed food costs to historical highs.

Stimulus, Brazil, Roads and Guns

Randy Kuhl and Eric Massa both agree that the stimulus package that just passed Congress is a good thing, and the Hornell Evening Tribune and WENY carry reports on the trip.

In the Hornell Evening Tribune story, Kuhl also makes the claim that the WHAM "got it all wrong" when reporting in his Brazil trip.  In the same story, Massa says it's time to move on and address other, more important issues.

The Buffalo Evening News carries a Kuhl quote about the stalled extension of State Highway 219.  Apparently part of the stall was an environmental issue involving the Army Corps of Engineers.

Kuhl is one of the many signers of a Congressional friend-of-the-court brief in support of the individual right to bear arms.  The case is DC vs Heller, which challenges the DC law banning guns on constitutional grounds.  This case will add precedent on the issue of whether the Second Amendment guarantees a collective or individual right to bear arms.

(In news only I care about, the Hornell Evening Tribune switched to the Gatehouse Media standard Zope-based  content management system, so now their URLs won't change overnight.)

In Other Blogs

DragonFlyEye has a copy of Randy Kuhl's latest mailer.  It's an informative piece highlighting the availability of digital-to-analog television tuners for those who watch TV over-the-air and can't afford a new TV.

Rochesterturning notes that Kuhl introduced a resolution honoring the Veterans' Administration's 75th anniversary.

Another Kuhl Brazil Story

WHAM-13 has a follow-up to the recent story detailing the cost of Randy Kuhl's trip to Brazil.  In this piece, Evan Dawson calculates the cost of Kuhl's air travel as $28,611.  Dawson's blog entry contains the entire itinerary as well as his calculations.  The broadcast story is embedded after the break: DayPortPlayer.newPlayer({articleID:"190301",bannerAdObjectID:"5",videoAdObjectID:"4",videoAdConDefID:"2",playerInstanceID:"27574A89-06D1-CD92-4444-22719C5099EC",domain:"",rootCategory:"null",categoryID:"5"});

Super Tuesday Postgame

I have no great wisdom to impart on Super-Duper-Apocalypto-Big Bang Tuesday, because when all was said and done, Democrats are pretty much where they were on ordinary Monday.

I do hope the parties continue to have a bunch of primaries on one day.  It makes things more interesting and exciting.

Mid-Morning Linkage and Comment

Elmira's WETM-18 has a story about the cost of Kuhl's trip to Brazil.

Via Rochesterturning, here's a Politico story that puts Randy Kuhl in a group of a half-dozen incumbents out-raised by their opponents.

Evan Dawson of WHAM-13 has a long and thoughtful response to criticisms in the comments to a previous post.

Thought Experiment

Ontario GOP has a couple of comments in last night's post, alleging media bias in the 29th district.  I invite anyone who thinks that might be true to engage in the following mental experiment:

Imagine that your least-favorite Congressional Democrat (Louise Slaughter, Brian Higgins, whoever) went on a Congressional junket somewhere you think he or she has no business going. 

When you're looking through the media coverage of that trip, which would you prefer:

  1. A series of stories that examine every detail of the trip, questioning the stated purpose, and showing that your least-favorite Democrat was giving the press the run-around, and that his or her expense report probably understated the real cost of the trip.

  2. A story that re-prints Brian or Louise's press release about the trip without questioning it.

  3. A local press that completely ignores the trip, because the trip wasn't a lot of money and there are more important things to discuss.
I want (1).  While I don't agree with (3) completely, I understand that the press sometimes tends to focus on minutiae while ignoring the big picture.  What I don't get is (2), which is apparently what some Kuhl supporters expect from the local press.

Shoot the Messenger

The WHAM-13 blog has a new post with more details on Randy Kuhl's trip to Brazil.  Kuhl's office has released a partial accounting of the cost of his trip, which totals around $4K.  As WHAM's Evan Dawson points out, that number is misleading because it doesn't include the cost of military air transport, which is something like $10,000 per hour.

In addition to the cost of military airtime, there's some more missing information:  how many military and/or embassy personnel were detailed to the trip?  How much time did that expensive airplane and crew have to sit around waiting to shuttle the delegation between cities?  All the disclosure appears to show is Kuhl's per diem and hotel costs, which is a small fraction of the cost to taxpayers.

This partial information release is accompanied by one of the snottiest press releases I've read in a long time.  Here's an excerpt:

The total for my portion of the trip was $4,028.93, which divided up among the 600,000+ residents the 29th District, equals approximately $0.00671 per constituent.

I understand the significance $0.00671 means to my district, but achieving energy independence is priceless to some. There are those who said that this trip was a vacation and we should have spent our time in Iowa. When Iowa finds the solution to energy independence, I will be the first to schedule a CODEL there.
It is unfortunate that some media outlets and individuals would skew this trip to only be about dollars and cents. But the truth is that this trip was desperately needed by lawmakers of Congress to find a solution to the energy crisis and I encourage more of my colleagues in Congress to visit Brazil.

Kuhl seems to be attacking the messenger, WHAM, which is an organization that's just doing its job.  When you don't disclose information when you promise to do so, it makes good reporters curious, so they follow up.  WHAM spent an inordinate amount of time and effort to find out something that could have been disclosed on time and without any static.  Their reward for going through weeks of run-around is a partial disclosure and a bunch of attitude.  They're the ones who should be snarky, but of course they've stayed professional.

If there's really nothing here, then Kuhl should put a little foot on ass with the committee bureaucracy and provide a full disclosure.  That's good representation and smart politics.

(Thanks to Exile at Rochesterturning for a heads-up on this.)

Super Tuesday Notes

Polls in New York open at Noon and close at 9.  I've already talked with someone who went to their polling place, found it empty and wondered what was going on.

All Democratic races are proportional except for West Virginia (18 delegates) and Montana (25 delegates).  If races are tight in all the proportional states (with home-states of New York/New Jersey balanced by Illinois), then these two mountain states might be more important than one would think.  That's about as astute as my analysis gets, unfortunately.

After the break, an overly-cute Obama video, for which I apologize in advance.

Full Kuhl Interview Internally in the System

The raw footage of Randy Kuhl's interview with Rochester's WHAM-13 has been posted (and embedded below).


  • "Taking every step to become a candidate in the next election" (0:45).
  • He's never had any pressure from his party to vote for a bill (5:00).
  • The Iguazu Falls trip was to study drug interdiction (7:15) and it built a relationship with Brazilian legislators (8:00).
  • S-CHIP extension that he supported (and was the subject of the mailer) is "actually an expansion" (10:40)
  • Mailings aren't confusing, they tell people that he "supported S-CHIP for poor children first" (12:10)
  • Why didn't Kuhl speak out against earmarks in 2005 when he said that "earmarks are an important tool" (12:50).  Answer:  He has, "internally in the system".  Also, we should be taking federal money however it comes (14:45).
  • Iraq. (17:00)  The point of the surge was a political solution.  Is it working?  Answer:  Surge has stabilized the country, need security for a government.  Governmental reconciliation is not going as fast as Kuhl would like, but "firmly convinced we are on the right course". 
  • How long can Iraq fail without us getting out? (19:15). "All I know is what I'm fed." If we hadn't seen success in the last surge, we wouldn't be in a position to continue our support.  Our next timeline is March.  "General Petreus, you're the leader, tell us what's going on."  
  • What about McCain's 100 years comment (21:00)?  "In many cases countries don't want us to leave...that may very well be what happens and what Sen. McCain was talking about."

In the accompanying blog entry, Reporter Evan Dawson talks about the importance of government transparency.  Amen, brother.

Brazil Trip Run Around

Rochester's WHAM (Channel 13) has a story about Kuhl's Brazil trip that highlights the run-around they've been getting from the different committees and offices that are supposed to be releasing information about the trip.  The story illustrates all the tricks of non-disclosure disclosure.  These include unclear responsibility, releasing documents in Washington DC on paper instead of via email or over the Internet, and refusal of the main actors to acknowledge a problem.

WHAM should feel good about the hard work they're doing to track down this story.  Even better, they let bloggers embed their stories, which I've done after the break:

Kuhl Interview

Ontario GOP has posted his interview with Randy Kuhl.  It's a good run-down of Kuhl's spin on some important election-day issues.

To his credit, GOP asks a couple of questions about issues that will be important election issues.  On S-CHIP, Kuhl's justification for voting against hasn't changed much since last Fall:

Their plan also enables illegal aliens to fraudulently enroll in Medicaid and SCHIP by weakening the proof of citizenship. Also, their bill is the most regressive tax increase in American history and taxes the poor to benefit the rich. SCHIP was also designed for children, but the Democratic extension increases the number of adults on SCHIP, which allows even more resources to be taken away from low-income kids. And finally and most importantly, SCHIP was designed for low-income, poor children. The majority forgot that when they designed their extension, because there are still poor children not covered. We must ensure that we cover the low-income children first before considering expanding the program.
I've debunked some of these claims earlier (see this post on the immigrant issue).  The "tax the poor" spin is an argument that poor people will bear the brunt of the tax increase on tobacco that partially funds S-CHIP expansion.  The adult issue is a legitimate question, but the states that received waivers for adults were already covering all the kids allowed to be covered by S-CHIP, so the spin that adult funding is shorting kids is wrong.  Also, part of the reason that poor children are not covered is that states are allowed to set coverage levels, and some fund S-CHIP at lower levels.

On the trip to Brazil, I think Kuhl over-reaches when he says this:

This trip was enlightening and desperately needed. And for those people that want to belittle it for political gain, do not understand that as a country you can not hide your head in the sand and think that everything will be fine. This is a global economy and we must learn from one another to benefit from the successes and failures that we have experienced.
The obvious rejoinder to this is that there's no desperate need for anyone to stay at five-star hotels and fly on first-class military charters to learn about Brazil.
Iraq is not mentioned in the interview, which I think reflects the spin that the working surge means Iraq no longer matters.  I don't think that wish will hold up to the reality of the election.