Archive (2008)

Kuhl and the "Moderate" Label

The Watertown Daily Times has a long story about Randy Kuhl and the demise of moderate Republicans.  As the article points out, Kuhl is only "moderate" in comparison to the current crop of Republicans:  "with the ranks of so-called moderate Republicans in Congress thinning, Mr. Kuhl, who supports organized labor and lower taxes, is looking a lot more middle-of-the-road."

The story doesn't point out that Kuhl's labor support is mixed at best.  For example, he voted against the Employee Free Choice Act, which was the "big" labor bill last year.  But the general point of the article, which is that Republican moderates and the groups that support them are languishing, is absolutely correct.  Some of those groups have been diminished to almost nothing:

The Log Cabin Republicans PAC, which supports candidates supportive of gay and lesbian issues, has contributed just $1,000 to candidates so far this cycle, after giving $31,144 to 11 House candidates and one Senate candidate in 2006.

Project Vote Smart

Project Vote Smart is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to informing voters.  They've recently updated their candidate information pages, including lists of what Vote Smart calls "key votes", which are an extremely useful resource.   Randy Kuhl's key votes are here.  Vote Smart also has a "political courage test" which records politicians' positions on key issues.  Kuhl has refused to answer those questions.

Gannett and a Little Lesson on Transparency

Jim Hopkins, the proprietor of Gannett Blog, has made a very careful study of the charitable contributions made by the Gannett Foundation.  One interesting discovery relevant to Rochester is that the Gannett Foundation gives around half of its donations to charities in the Rochester area.  Jim thinks, and I agree, that this is guilt money from Gannett, which is still feeling bad about moving their corporate HQ to the Washington, DC area and leaving us with the Democrat and Chronicle.

Those of you interested in the role of blogs in journalism should take a look at Jim's series on the Gannett Foundation.  By carefully reading required disclosures, he found that Gannett executives had a special program in the Gannett charities that allowed those execs to target donations to their favorite charities.  Of course, those executives took advantage of the program to donate to their alma maters.  For example, though the overall mission of the Foundation is to support charities in areas where Gannett has newspapers, the CEO chose to funnel contributions to his beloved University of Texas.  Gannett doesn't have any papers in Texas.

Followup - The Lack of Stimulation is Palpable

I have yet to receive a stimulus mailer from Randy Kuhl, and neither has Reader Rich.  Reasoning from this massive sample of two, it does raise the question of whether that mailer was targeted in some way. 

To continue this line of baseless speculation using anecdotal data, I noticed that the mailer posted at Rochesterturning was sent to someone in Victor.  Victor, which is a part of Ontario County, is a good target.  It's more conservative than Monroe, since it contains a mix of suburban and rural voters.  If I were Kuhl, I'd want to firm up my support there.

"Responsible Plan" Gets National Press

The Iraq exit strategy proposed by Eric Massa and other candidates and military experts received some mention in today's Washington Post and on MSNBC.  Money quote from the MSNBC story:

“This plan offers a path out of Iraq. This administration has built a parking lot to keep us there,” said Eric Massa, who is running in New York’s 29th district. Massa added that much of the American public falsely believes that their only choices are between cutting and running and staying forever.

Massa on Mailers

Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader article [pdf] on the Kuhl mailer, in which Eric Massa criticizes Kuhl's mailers as well as the practice of spending money on mailers by members in either party.

The Republican Challenge

The New York Times has an in-depth story on the National Republican Congressional Committee, and its leader, Tom Cole (OK-4).  The NRCC is facing trouble raising money from a disenchanted base (one donor returned a fundraising letter full of feces), and they're also facing a shift in the electorate.  I thought this take, by one of Cole's deputies, was spot-on:

You go back to the Reagan years, and even before that, and we always had a three-legged stool: anti-Communism, anti-abortion and tax and spend [...] The first leg dropped off when the Berlin Wall fell, and after 9/11 we’ve tried to do the same thing with terrorism, but it’s not as strong. The second leg, tax and spend, was pretty strong until George Bush. Then we had just one leg of the stool, which was social issues, and I think that you look at the makeup of the younger generation and there’s more of a libertarian view on social issues.
The whole article is worth a read, because it appears that the NRCC, which was a factor in the 2006 election in the 29th, is under-resourced and over-stretched for 2008.

News 10 Mailer Story

Rochester's Channel 10 "I-Team" has a story on the cost and use of congressional mailers.  Of the Rochester-area Members of Congress, Randy Kuhl spends the most on mailings, $136,000 in 2006.

Unstimulated in the AM

I haven't received my copy of Randy Kuhl's stimulus mailer yet, but Rochesterturning has a scan of the piece.

Evan Dawson had a post yesterday on the illogic of pork barrel spending, where he makes the following good point:

The incongruity seems to come from those who argue that government spends too much -- but then argue that their own Representative has a duty to bring home fistfuls of cash.  They don't seem to care to inspect the validity of each earmark; it's good enough that their Representative is bringing home something.  $100k for library tags in Greece?  Sure.  $1 million for a private college that is in no financial trouble?  Why not?

Kuhl Editorial in Messenger-Post

Today's Messenger-Post has an editorial that takes Randy Kuhl to task for distributing a glossy flyer that essentially duplicates information sent by the IRS.  Kuhl has fired back with a press release, taking the M-P to task for some loose wording in the editorial. 

I'll let readers decide whether Kuhl's call on the factual error is right. At best, it's nitpicky.  If the M-P had added one word in the second graph ("probably getting" instead of "getting"), there would be no issue.  Otherwise, I agree with Rochesterturning that this is a well-written editorial that makes a sound basic point:  Kuhl doesn't need to send out an expensive glossy mailer that duplicates an IRS mailer containing the same information. 

Kuhl's stated justification for sending the mailer was that his office received 200 calls in February with questions.  That's a silly reason, since the IRS mailers, which cost taxpayers $42 million, didn't go out until early March.

Corning Leader on Massa v Kuhl, Iraq War

Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader column [pdf] from Managing Editor Joe Dunning. Dunning thinks Kuhl is in for a tougher run this time around. Money quote:

If you consider Bush one of the worst presidents ever -- think a foreign policy like Lyndon Johnson’s (Vietnam) and a domestic plan like Herbert Hoover’s (The Depression ) -- then it would be hard to look favorably on his supporters. That’s the battle Kuhl must overcome to get back to Washington.

The same page has an Iraq editorial that mentions calls for victory and notes that "it's impossible to know now when it might be deemed a success". That editorial concludes by saing that Bush's

successor must be someone who, on March 19, 2009, will observe this grim anniversary not by looking back, but by reporting progress on a plan to swiftly end this war, bring our troops home, and engage the United States as a diplomatic player -- rather than a ham-fisted bully -- in this critical region.

This is from a conservative newspaper that endorsed Kuhl in 2006. If you want to understand how things have changed since then in the most Republican part of the 29th district, look no further.

The Iraq Situation, In Quotations

Randy Kuhl:

Although it is vital that Iraq’s political leaders move more aggressively to reconcile the differences between the factions within their country, Iraqi leaders are slowly learning to govern and have passed several key pieces of legislation in recent months.
Washington Post:

Petraeus, who is preparing to testify to Congress next month on the Iraq war, said in an interview that "no one" in the U.S. and Iraqi governments "feels that there has been sufficient progress by any means in the area of national reconciliation," or in the provision of basic public services. [...]
[T]he Iraqi government also has deferred action on some of its most important legislative goals, including laws governing the exploitation of Iraq's oil resources, that the Bush administration had identified as necessary benchmarks of progress toward reconciliation.
Randy Kuhl:

Under the leadership of General David Petraeus, America’s armed forces have made significant strides in bringing stability to the region.
CBS News:

The levels of fear and animosity have not ebbed, even if the statistics seem to indicate otherwise. Reporters and camera crews still must adhere to the “15-minute rule”: stay no longer than 15 minutes in any one place. In some places, indeed many places, even that is far too long.

The exceptions are neighborhoods where a combination of concrete barriers, known as “T-walls” because of their shape, guarded entrances and the presence of Iraqi security forces backed up by and under the close watch of U.S. troops make it safe to spend time. There are more than a few of those now.

Baghdad is no longer so much a capital city as a jigsaw puzzle of uni-ethnic zones.
Randy Kuhl:

And most importantly, our troops are coming home knowing that their efforts are leading to victory.

Gen Petraeus was keen to emphasise that the ongoing unrest in Iraq is not something he expects to be resolved overnight.

"Northern Ireland, I think, taught you that very well. My counterparts in your [British] forces really understand this kind of operation... It took a long time, decades," he said.