Archive (2008)

Massa in the News

Grievous Angel at Rochesterturning has an interview with Eric Massa on gas prices.  Massa makes another important point about gas prices:  the low value of the dollar drives high oil prices.

Reader Elmer sends a photo page [pdf] from the Corning Leader, which features a shot of Massa addressing a Memorial Day event, as well as a shot of Amo Houghton, former 29th Representative.

Debunking Some Gasoline Myths

Since the price of gas has become a political issue, here's a roundup of media stories addressing some of the ideas floating around:

Evan Dawson at Rochester WHAM-13 talks to an economist about a gas tax holiday. It turns out that the way the gas market is structured in New York, any cut in gas taxes could be swallowed up by middlemen, and we would also probably see a rebound shock at the end of Summer.

McClatchy has a round-up of things President Bush could do to cut the price of gas. One thing Bush didn't mention yesterday might work, and everything he did mention won't work.

Reuters analyzes the claim that a 2002 authorization drilling in ANWR would have solved today's problem. It wouldn't, and at maximum production far in the future ANWR would have only accounted for 2% of our total oil consumption. It's a oft-mentioned drop in the bucket.

Anyone Who Had a Heart

Randy Kuhl will receive the American Heart Association Service Award today. Last year, Kuhl sponsored H.Con.Res 215 which supported "National Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Automated External Defibrillator Awareness Week".

In that same vein, I hope everyone knows about the new hands-off only CPR guidelines for witnessed adult collapse.

You Know You're In Trouble When...

Farm Bill and Ethanol

Today's Corning Leader has a story on the Farm Bill, which is still crawling through Congress. The bill includes $1.6 billion in specialty crop funding, which will help the area's apple and grape growers.

The bill still includs $5.2 billion of "direct payments" to farmers, who are making record profits due to high food prices that are causing widespread malnutrition in developing countries.

The Times' article on the bill notes that the ethanol tax credit has been reduced 6 cents, to 45 cents/gallon. Though the bill adds incentives for cellulosic ethanol, the corn ethanol subsidy continues to line the pockets of agribusiness without contributing to energy independence.

The ethanol subsidy is an area of government dysfunction where both the left and right can agree. Eric Massa has spoken out against corn ethanol in the past. And even the conservative National Review thinks we're getting shafted:

But today, liberal environmentalists are not the ones pushing ethanol. It's Agribusiness, all the way. Most reputable liberals believe ethanol to be a big joke — an enormous corporate welfare subsidy with no real benefits and many downsides.

On many issues, Conservatives have more in common with ideological liberals than we do with the business interests that come to Washington looking for a handout. Our goal should be to persuade the Left — to use clear failures we agree on, like ethanol — to demonstrate that Big Business will always come to Washington for handouts until Washington stops giving them altogether. Each new handout is the next ethanol, the next sugar — and once you've started giving a handout, it never ends.

Possible Medicaid Veto Override

Randy Kuhl was part of a unanimous New York delegation vote for the Medicaid Safety Net Act eariler this week. This bill extends a number of deadlines for program cuts in Medicaid. Since it passed by a veto-proof majority, and because it is under veto threat from the White House, this sets up a possible veto override vote, assuming the bill passes the Senate intact.

Houghton Endorses Kuhl

Randy Kuhl's popular predecessor Amo Houghton, who retired after nine terms, has once again endorsed Kuhl for Congress, according to WETM-TV.  Hougton's take on Kuhl's tenure:  "outstanding".



This is a rant, but it's relevant to the 29th.  Those interested can continue after the jump.

Others might want to check out Kathleen Edwards' album Failer.  It covers the same themes.

Yesterday, in addition to the Pennsylvania mess (more on that anon), there was a special congressional election in a super-Republican Mississippi-1.  The NRCC spent $292K in this race.  That's 4% of their total cash-on-hand.  The DCCC spent $142K on their race.  That's .3% of their cash-on-hand.  (3/10ths of 1%).   The Democrat in the race lost by 2%

Over at Rochesterturning, Stlo7 carries a little DCCC water with this comment:

I’m not sure “could of” or “should of” plays here. [...]

Bottom line - this presents an opportunity to continue to bleed the NRCC dry continuing in Mississippi through November.

Plus they still might win the run-off.

Strategically, the DCCC wants to bleed the NRCC dry so they are electorally ineffective in November. This is part of that strategy and it seems to be working. [...]

I don't mean to pick on Stlo7 -- he's a hard-working, smart guy.  But this attitude is what's wrong with the Democratic party.  Any failure is reasoned away with poisonous "failure is actually part of our devious plan" logic.  This attitude allows incompetents to continue to run the party and focus attention away from quality party-building activities. 

The reality in MS-1 is that special elections generally have low turnout, that the closeness of this election was due in large part to a "bitter" split in the Republican party over who to run for this supposedly safe seat.  This election will be a wake-up call for Republicans who stayed home, and it's much less likely that the next special will be as close.  Any rational observer must see MS-1 as a missed opportunity for the DCCC.  So what if the NRCC spent more?  They avoided a catastrophic loss. 

That's not "bleeding" -- it's having the guts to take a risk by wagering a good part of your precious warchest, and getting a return on your investment.   The bleeders here are the DCCC, who made a classic bad bet:  it's a rounding error on their enormous bank account, but it also was just little enough to lose. 

failotron.gifThe DCCC is supposedly "under new management" under Chris Van Hollen, but I think the FAIL-o-tron 6000 is still ensconced somewhere deep in the bowels of DCCC HQ.  The FAIL-o-tron, for those unfamiliar with the technology, is a device powered completely by failure, and is used to predict the next Democratic move.  Originally, the FAIL-o-tron was fed the tears of homely girls who weren't asked to prom, but over the years its power was greatly increased as it ingested copies of the Starr report mixed in with stock certificates.  Today, it is running hot on Countrywide Finance foreclosure notifications.

Consultants like Bob Shrum and Mark Penn have a direct connection to the FAIL-o-tron embedded in their tiny lizard brains.  The FAIL-o-tron tells them that process is for the little people, that kissing the asses of big donors is the only way to raise money, and that  Democrats can win by hanging on to "blue" states and forgetting everyone else.

So, when Barack Obama starts a grassroots campaign that focuses on winning the primary by (shock, horror) registering huge numbers of new voters and turning them out, when Obama ignores big donors and powers his campaign on millions of little donations, and when Obama runs hard in every state, even Idaho, then the FAIL-o-tron has a failure script ready to go. 

That script is very like the DCCC's.  It begins with the "devious plan" rhetoric.  Hillary's devious plan was to ignore caucuses to focus on a decisive win in February March (oops, I guess it's May now).  The devious plan was accompanied by a constantly changing message, another FAIL-o-tron special, since it is calibrated to vary its output based on slight, meaningless poll changes.  In addition, the FAIL-o-tron has exquisite self-protection mechanisms, so nobody with a F-o-t implant gets fired.  Despite screwing the pooch like no other, Penn is still an employee of the Clinton campaign.

The FAIL-o-tron is hard at work in Monroe County.  After the MCDC's inability to field a candidate for county exec, nothing happened.  The same bumblers are still bumbling along.  When Town of Mendon Republicans lost a couple of city races, the Monroe County chair canned the entire committee.  I think it's immensely telling that the reaction at Rochesterturning was to search for some reason why this wasn't fair.  They didn't ask why their own party was unable to accomplish the same task.

In the 29th, the DCCC's FAIL-o-tron dictated that there's no way that Eric Massa could win in 2006, so Massa got little support.  Today, that story seems to be changing, but the DCCC F-o-t's residual prom-rejection tears remember the pain, and it's scared of losing.  The FAIL-o-tron will probably dictate a token contribution like the MS-1 race.

I'd like to be mad at the FAIL-o-tron, but it's just a machine.  I'm disappointed when smart Democrats start to take its bullshit seriously.  We need to stop drinking this weak Kool Aid.  The DCCC fucked up in MS-1.  It's not the most tragic fuckup in recent memory, but it's a legitimate fuckup, and I'm calling it what it is.

North vs. South in the 29th

Sadface If you want to know the difference between the more affluent and suburban Northern 29th, and the less affluent and more rural Southern Tier, look no further than this story in today's Corning Leader.  The town of Bath, located a few miles from Randy Kuhl's home in Hammondsport, is reeling after Wal-Mart decided not to build a superstore there.

Two years ago, Wal-Mart was interested in building a superstore in Lima, just over the district border.  Residents in nearby Mendon, a Rochester exurb full of sprawling homes and horse paddocks, began a campaign against Wal-Mart that has been successful.

Today, there's no superstore in Lima, and Muffy and Biff are happy that they can still drive their Volvo to the local hardware store in Mendon to buy fencing wire for their stable.  There's no superstore in Bath, and the town's deputy supervisor is "disappointed, very disappointed."

An Uncomfortable Fact About Gas

Eric Massa and Randy Kuhl are both addressing the issue of higher gas prices. 

The Kuhl take is the same as the rest of the Republican caucus: it's Nancy Pelosi's fault.  If you're interested in the tortured logic by which Kuhl arrives at this view, here's his floor speech.   The sum total of Kuhl's "argument", which is cribbed from his caucus, is that Pelosi said that Democrats would lower gas prices and they haven't.  Ergo, it's all Pelosi's fault.  I don't think anyone's buying:  unless the use of botox somehow depletes the world's oil supply, Nancy is in the clear.

Massa's view is as follows:

The source of this problem is clear - Randy Kuhl and far too many Washington insiders have allowed Big Oil to gouge us at the pump. To solve this problem, we must stop the George W. Bush Big Oil handouts and start investing in real energy independence for America, not real obnoxious profits for Exxon Mobil.
I agree with Massa that the subsidies and tax breaks for big oil make no sense, especially when oil is over $100/barrel, and they should be ended at once.

But here's the unpleasant fact:  the only thing that causes us to stop using so much gasoline, and to invest in energy independence, is high gas prices.  For the first time since 1991, and the eighth time since 1951, gas consumption is down in the United States.

"Sustained higher gasoline prices are beginning to show up in lower gasoline consumption,” said Tancred Lidderdale, an analyst for the Energy Information Administration.
While I agree with Massa that, in theory, the government could implement an energy independence program, it's too late for that.  We're like the fat smoker who just had a heart attack.  We've known for decades what we're supposed to do, but we will only do it under influence of tremendous pain and fear.

Checking In at Gannett

Jim Hopkins, editor of Gannettblog, has written a couple of posts that might be of interest to those following the fortunes of the 29th's "paper of record", the Democrat and Chronicle.

Jim notes that the D&C is a two-time winner of the Gannett in-house diversity award.  He also wonders if Gannett's focus on diversity has yielded the results they're shooting for.

Jim also looks at the conundrum of "resources".  A resource shortage is one of the excuses given for the light coverage of the 29th at the D&C.  Jim relates his experiences at another Gannett property, the Idaho Statesman, which is now owned by McClatchy (emphasis mine):

The Boise paper employed about 65 folks in its newsroom when I worked there in 1991-96; I suspect employment under McClatchy hasn't changed much. But my experience, working for one of the best editors I've known, shows that a small number of staffers, managed well, can produce very good work. The editor, John Costa, had come to the Statesman from Florida's St. Petersburg Times. Costa was an outsider; he had not worked his way up through Gannett, so his hiring was a little unusual.
Costa was an old-fashioned First Amendment journalist. Over and over, he preached the importance of using freedom of information laws to hold powerful people accountable. Once, for example, when I was reporting on a state prison story, I found myself in a federal courtroom, hearing a judge about to seal an important court document from public view. During a hearing break, I called Costa and asked what to do. He told me to return to the courtroom, and ask the judge to reconsider. When the hearing resumed, I stood up at the back of the very big courtroom, and called out to the judge -- startling the assembled attorneys. (In response, the judge offered a compromise.)
Costa's approach to producing great journalism was simple: Take the best stories, assign them to the newsroom's most talented people -- then get out of the way, and let them do their jobs. He believed readers would remember big, impactful stories long after they'd forgotten the routine stuff we produce daily, just to fill tomorrow's paper. If a reporter was working on a project, and Costa saw her name attached to a daily on that morning's budget, he'd demand to know why. 


That last post was the first in a series that will be cross-posted at a new site,  WNYCongress is an "aggregator" or "planet" that brings together blog posts from area bloggers interested in NY-25, NY-26 and NY-29 races.  The goal of WNYCongress is to publish regular summaries and breaking news for those who are interested in the races but don't have time to spend reading every single post on area blogs.

Rocplanet is another project of mine, so if people have other ideas for planets, I'm all ears.