Archive (2008)

FAIL-o-Tron Version 2 - New and Unimproved

The DCCC has to make tough decisions about where to spend its money. This is well-understood, and if the DCCC doesn't want to spend money in the 29th district, that's their choice. I think they're wrong, but that's nothing new with an organization that has a long record of poor money choices. (I've examined some of those choices here and in more depth here, including an explanation of the FAIL-o-tron reference.)

However, letting their list of targeted ads leak is a simple unforced error. It sends a signal to fundraisers, donors and pundits about the races where they think some extra money will make a difference. Leaking, or letting out, this list in July, which is 2-3 months before the ad buys will occur, damages any Democrat in a tight race who isn't on that list.

The DCCC may have some clever reason for leaking the list (if it wasn't an accident). If they do, I guarantee that it's too clever by half.

Update: Here's the DCCC response:

Our initial media buy is the first act of a many act play. As we have been all cycle, the DCCC is focused, prepared, and organized. Watch what we do over the next four months and our aggressive strategy to expand the playing field and strengthen the Democratic Majority will become clear.

DCCC - No Western NY Ads

The DCCC will spend nothing on television advertising in Western New York, according to a document obtained by Talking Points Memo. The DCCC is planning a $34 million ad buy, but the only New York race which will see a DCCC expenditure is NY-13, currently held by retiring Vito Fossella.

Oil, Petitions and Our Opinion of Congress

Today's Democrat and Chronicle has a analysis piece about Randy Kuhl's energy bill. It contrasts the Republicans' plan to blame Congress for high energy costs with some polling data. Polls show that Americans blame oil companies, President Bush, foreign oil producing nations and Congress, in that order.

The Kuhl Campaign announced that their petition filing includes over 11,000 signatures, which shows the strength of Republican organization, especially in the Southern Tier (that's an assumption). This is roughly 3,000 more than the Massa campaign reported Wednesday.

WETM has a story on petition filing in the Elmira area. Along with mentioning Massa and Kuhl's petitions, WETM reports that only Republican State Senator George Winner will have a challenger. Republican Assemblymen Bacalles and O'Meara will run unopposed this year.

After the break, I've embedded Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig's take on the popularity of Congress, which, as was discussed earlier, is in single digits. For Lessig, it's all about the money.

Petitions and Decontamination

The Buffalo News reports that Senator Chuck Schumer is the last-chance Texaco for full funding of the West Valley Demonstration Project cleanup. West Valley is an abandoned, contaminated nuclear fuel reprocessing facility in Cattaraugus County. The House Appropriations Committee has allocated $23 million less than the amount requested by Randy Kuhl.

The Massa campaign says that they've filed petitions containing 7,209 signatures, up over 1,000 from 2006. As reported here earlier, Yates County contributed over 1,000 of those signatures. A little over 3,000 people voted for Massa in Yates County in 2006, so it's fair to say the Yates County Democrats are energized.

Massa Meets the Press

Today's Massa press conference covered veterans' issues and, of course, energy.

Massa began with a discussion of the current state of veterans' issues. With 500,000 new veterans, mainly from Iraq and Afghanistan, the average processing time for veterans' claims by the VA has increased from 177 days in 2006 to 183 days in 2007. Massa said, "It's time to support our troops and veterans' community instead of just talking about it."

Referring to Kuhl's recent media event, Massa said that veterans "deserve more than a yellow ribbon and a press conference from their Congressman." He noted that Kuhl refused to take questions from actual vets at that conference. In addition

According to the Congressional Record, Randy Kuhl has voted to oppose ending the military family tax, against veterans' health care funding, and against the minimum rest period in Iraq. [His explanation is] they're too expensive. [...] That's a Congressional vote, not spin.

Massa called on Kuhl to co-sponsor John Hall's [D,NY-19] Veterans Claims Modernization Act (HR 5892). Massa believes this bill "will end many of the issues veterans face every day." He says it will increase funding as necessary. "It's about time we put our money where our mouths are." He said that if we can spend a trillion dollars funding George Bush's Iraq War, we can afford to take care of veterans.

I asked a couple of questions. First, Nancy Pelosi has called for using oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. I asked Massa if he agreed. He doesn't.

We face a crisis in this country, which has been brought about by the devaluation of the dollar, pursued so we could fund the War in Iraq. The biggest thing we can do is strengthen the dollar. [CNN reported that] crude oil is down $14/barrel because the dollar is strengthening. Using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will not lower the price at the pumps, and it will place us in a worse strategic place.

I also asked Massa about Randy Kuhl's recent remarks to the Corning Leader, where he said that there are other sources of oil that could be tapped. Massa said he has no idea what he's talking about, noting that "Kuhl has talked about the need to start drilling in ANWR. That would open a minimal supply of petroleum in a 5-year period."

Massa then talked about a full-page ad in the New York Times, paid for by T. Boone Pickens:

Mr. Pickens is rumored to have some experince in the oil business. His ad says, 'My name is T. Boone Pickens. I have been an oil man all my life. This is one emergency we can't drill our way out of.' I think Mr. Kuhl should talk to T. Boone Pickens.

Massa referred to Pickens website,, noting that he agrees with some of what Pickens says, and disagrees with other parts of the plan. But, he noted, at least Pickens is being straightforward about the problem.

Kuhl, in contrast, "is not only wrong, but insultingly wrong. He's answering to his masters in big oil who have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to his campaign. All drilling in ANWR will do is increase their profits."

The other reporter on the call was from WXXI, Rochester's public radio station.

New Blog in Town

The Progressive Democrats of Genesee Valley have a new blog with a post about Randy Kuhl's Veterans' Mental Health Caucus. They note that Kuhl has the worst rating (D) of the New York delegation, according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans' Association.

Stories of Note

Randy Kuhl's Veterans' Mental Health Caucus rates a skeptical editorial from the Messenger-Post, hometown paper for the Canandaigua VA center specializing in psychiatric care. Nut graphs:

An honest discussion of troops’ mental health begins with the decision to engage in two long-term occupations halfway around the globe with an all-volunteer military and continues with the wait and red tape to get services once they return. We hope this is not a broader task than the members of Kuhl’s House caucus had bargained for.

Awareness is fine, but conviction and action would be more appropriate here.

Reader Elmer sends a link to a Rasmussen poll showing that the approval rating of Congress is now in single digits.

Any Republican reading that poll should be worried, because Democrats have not been in control for very long. Though Republicans are definitely spinning each and every problem as the fault of the newly-elected Democrats, most of what we're reaping today was sown before Democrats took over last year. That said, any Democratic challenger reading the poll should conclude that running against the system, which includes opposing some current Democratic positions in Congress, is a smart move.

Update: I missed this earlier, but despite the 9% overall Congressional approval rating, Democrats still have a 12% lead in Rasmussen's generic Congressional ballot question.

Petition Report

Reader Rich sends a report on Massa petitioning progress in Yates County. He's a first-time petitioner, and he believes that Yates will send in roughly 1,000 signatures for Massa. This is in a county that cast a little over 3,000 votes for Massa in the last election.

Rich is aware of some Republican petitioners for State Senator George Winner, but none for Randy Kuhl.

D&C Attaboy

Randy Kuhl's announcement of a Veterans' Mental Health Caucus is the subject of a positive editorial in today's Democrat and Chronicle.

Leader Interview

Reader Elmer sends a link to Randy Kuhl's interview with the Corning Leader editorial board. The main topic is energy, with Kuhl expressing concern about the effect of the high price of heating oil on those with fixed budgets.

Kuhl also makes the following new claim:

Kuhl disputes that notion saying that while tapping into places such as ANWR would take several years, areas do exist where oil could be reached and refined in a matter of months.

Even Kuhl's latest mailer, which was full of overstatements about the consequences of ANWR and offshore drilling, made no claim about other untapped oil fields. Kuhl has been spinning ever more fanciful stories about short-term fixes to our long-term energy problems. It's hard to see how this new fabrication will help his case.

Two Days' News

I'm traveling so here are a few things I missed the last couple of days:

Massa Press Conference and McCain Comment

Grievous Angel at Rochesterturning has a write-up of today's Massa press conference. Massa covered energy independence, Kuhl's mailer and Wes Clark's remarks on John McCain.

Massa also has a Daily Kos post discussing the Clark/McCain issue.