Archive (2008)

Yet Another Drilling Post

When Randy Kuhl chose to take a page directly from Newt Gingrich's book and make drilling the centerpiece of his energy program, he chose to ignore what we've know for at least 35 years: we are far too dependent on a commodity that's extracted in some of the most contentious corners of the earth. Instead of attacking this problem head-on, he chose to mouth a comprehensive energy plan while advertising a "business as usual" solution.

That would be fine if "business as usual" were presented honestly. But the case coupling drilling more with paying less in the near term is so tenuous that Kuhl and others following the Gingrich gameplan have to rely on a set of false claims to make their case.

Today's press conference is a prime example. Let's start with John Boehner's claim that we can begin to see the benefits of drilling in ANWR and other off-limits locations in less than a year. He said, "You have to remember that the people who are saying it will take ten or fifteen years are the same people twenty years ago who said it would take ten or fifteen years." These nefarious "same people" are none other than the Bush Administration's Department of Energy. If those people are such wet blankets, the Bush Administration has had almost 8 years to replace them with optimists.

In addition to Boehner's willful ignorance of reality, Randy Kuhl's crazy oil production math, which we've seen before, is still in evidence. Today, he claimed that Nancy Pelosi's advocated release of 10% of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve tells us that drilling everywhere would lower the price of gas by half. This is such a complicated tale that it needs to be untangled piece-by-piece.

Kuhl says Pelosi claimed that releasing 10% of the SPR would lead to a 5 cent drop in gasoline. She might have said that at some point, but she didn't say it in her letter to the President. Pelosi only cited the fact that previous releases had lowered the price of crude; she made no prediction. Even so, 10% of the SPR is 70 million barrels of oil. At beginning of offshore and ANWR production, 3-4 million barrels will be produced per day (that's in 2018, see here and here.) Assuming it takes a couple of weeks to get 10% out of the SPR, ANWR and offshore's affect on supply is about par with a SPR release. They certainly aren't 40 times more effective, which is what it takes to make Kuhl's math work.

One final thing to think about: oil production is a market-driven business. Today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram tells us that natural gas producers are already fearing a glut in production. The high price of natural gas, along with some new extraction technologies that are now cost-effective, have spurred production of known reserves to an all-time high. If the Kuhl/Boehner/Gingrich fantasy were true, and oil companies could begin drilling everywhere all at once, they would flood the market and eventually lose their economic incentive for drilling.

That's why it's so irresponsible for Kuhl to hold out the promise of $2/gallon gas. We've never seen that kind of price change in the last 30 years, because once that market makes a stairstep price adjustment, it doesn't look back, no matter what tall tales Congressmen dream up.

Kuhl/Boehner/Houghton Press Conference

13WHAM's Evan Dawson has coverage of a Republican press conference in Rochester. One piece is Amo Houghton's remarks on why Randy Kuhl is targeted. (Because he's a moderate?) The second is an interview with Kuhl and House Majority Leader John Boehner.

What's Wrong with Congress

Andrew Bacevich's interview with Bill Moyers is an interesting and enlightening discussion of how we got into our current political predicament. Bacevich is a retired Army colonel, and a conservative in the real sense of the term. Here's one part of the interview that I thought hit the nail on the head:

The Congress, especially with regard to matters related to national security policy, has thrust power and authority to the executive branch. We have created an imperial presidency. The congress no longer is able to articulate a vision of what is the common good. The Congress exists primarily to ensure the reelection of members of Congress.

and this:

BILL MOYERS: Here is what I take to be the core of your analysis of our political crisis. You write, "The United States has become a de facto one party state. With the legislative branch permanently controlled by an incumbent's party. And every President exploiting his role as Commander in Chief to expand on the imperial prerogatives of his office."

ANDREW BACEVICH: One of the great lies about American politics is that Democrats genuinely subscribe to a set of core convictions that make Democrats different from Republicans. And the same thing, of course, applies to the other party. It's not true. I happen to define myself as a conservative.

Well, what do conservatives say they stand for? Well, conservatives say they stand for balanced budgets. Small government. The so called traditional values.

Well, when you look back over the past 30 or so years, since the rise of Ronald Reagan, which we, in many respects, has been a conservative era in American politics, well, did we get small government?

Do we get balanced budgets? Do we get serious as opposed to simply rhetorical attention to traditional social values? The answer's no. Because all of that really has simply been part of a package of tactics that Republicans have employed to get elected and to - and then to stay in office.

and this about the 2006 election, where Democrats promised to end the Iraq War:

BILL MOYERS: And you say the promises of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi prove to be empty. Reid and Pelosi's commitment to forcing a change in policy took a backseat to their concern to protect the Democratic majority.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Could anybody disagree with that?

This blog is devoted to understanding one Congressional district. In the three years I've been writing here, I have been surprised to see how much power Congress has ceded to the President. The most unpopular President in modern history has been able to manipulate Congress because each party in Congress, as Bacevich says, is mainly concerned with maintaining its majority.

The whole interview is worth watching.

Remember Town Hall Meetings?

One point of pride in Randy Kuhl's 2006 campaign was his pledge to visit all 145 towns in the district every year. Because of last year's protests, and their attendant media attention, Kuhl changed those meetings to by-appointment-only this year. He's held a handful so far, and no more are scheduled on his town hall meeting page. His campaign website also contains no mention of the meetings.

A reader noticed this state of affairs and contacted Kuhl's office asking about meetings. He was told that Kuhl will be having more meetings if he's elected this year.

In 2006, town hall meetings were a major part of Kuhl's effort to portray himself as a "service Congressman". In 2008, they are a public relations liability that are no longer part of Kuhl's campaign.

WETM Drilling Report

WETM covers Kuhl's drilling ad with a pretty favorable story, including a bunch of man-on-the-street interviews. Video embedded below:

History Repeating

13WHAM is first off the blocks with analysis of Randy Kuhl's latest campaign ad. It rates the claim that Kuhl is the only candidate who supports offshore drilling as "fiction". The "drill now/pay less" claim gets called "faction," because it's contains a tiny portion of fact: "So, 23 years from now, expanded drilling would actually drop the price of a gallon of gas--about 2.7 cents."

If you're not sure about the term "faction", Ms Shirley Bassey explains it in a video embedded below:

Return of the Rebel

Randy Kuhl is back in the district after participating in spontaneous rebellion.

Farmers are still unhappy about scarce immigrant labor.

Finally, Dr Denny votes for a two-term limit as he dissects the Fix Washington "Gimmick".

Massa Press Conference: The Big Lie

This morning's Massa press conference concentrated on Randy
Kuhl's radio ad

Massa began the call by pointing to Louise Slaughter's op-ed in
today's Democrat and Chronicle, which he believed made a good case
that drilling isn't the only answer to high gas prices.

The campaign season is heating up. We are 83 days and 11
hours from the election, and already in his first time out of the box,
Randy Kuhl is simply not telling the truth. He is running radio ads
in which he makes the statement that Randy Kuhl is the only candidate
who supports drilling for our energy needs now. That is simply

In our first media buy, I made the decision to run a
positive campaign. In Randy Kuhl's first buy, he made the decision to
not tell the truth. In virtually every newspaper in the district,
I've been talking about responsible drilling.

Massa listed off 11 articles where his energy policy has been
discussed, and noted that his energy plan has been posted publicly on
his web site. "Every news organization in this Congressional District
knows the truth. I call for today for Randy Kuhl to take down his
dishonest and untrue radio ad."

Massa said that Kuhl has refused to debate him on substantive issues,
and called his DC appearance "grandstanding and gaming instead of
looking for solutions." Noting that today's Corning Leader carried an
government report estimating that offshore drilling will increase
production by 1% by 2030, he added "It's a great disservice to voters
of this district to knowingly tell them things that are not true."

I asked Massa if he felt that Kuhl's strategy was to get him to react,
to knock him back on his heels.

I don't feel like I'm on my heels. Their strategy
illustrates the reason that there will be a landslide in this
country. Americans are tired of the same Washington politics as

Massa called Kuhl's current strategy an Orwellian "big lie": Create
a big lie, propagate it as much as possible, and enough people will
believe you so you can squeak by at the polls.

Massa believes this strategy will backfire: "Nothing is clearer than
in 27 days in a row, the price of gas has gone down, and the value of
the dollar has increased." The issue is Bush's failed economic
policies, not drilling, he said.

Morning News: Debates, Boehner

WETM has announced that they'll co-sponsor a debate along with the Corning Leader, on October 21. Eric Massa has confirmed he will attend. Randy Kuhl's schedule for October hasn't been finalized, so he's still a "maybe".

Kuhl is one of 18 Republicans who will receive a fundraising visit from John Boehner.

And WENY has a short piece on yesterday's Republican news conference.

Republican House News Conference

The video [27MB wmv] of this morning's House Republican press conference is now available. Randy Kuhl speaks at about 2:10.

Kuhl says that it is "outrageous that Speaker Pelosi, a multi-millionaire, travels around the country promoting a book when we, Members of Congress, are receiving letters and phone calls daily from people pleading for help." Kuhl read a letter from constituent Elizabeth, from Wayland, NY, who travels 50 miles daily to work in Rochester. Her heating oil budget has tripled, and her electricity budget is up by over half.

Since each of the Members had a couple of minutes, and many of them repeated the same talking points, the press conference gets a little long. But don't miss a reporter's question at 13:50, "None of this legislation will immediately drop the price at the pump, will it?"

John Kline [MN-2], replied, "It remains to be seen. It takes a while for oil to come out of the ground [...] two years, or three years, or five years." He added that it's an "important signal to the market", so "we think it will have an affect on prices."

Leader on Massa Request, LTEs

Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader story [pdf] on Massa's request yesterday.

The Leader also publishes their policy on letters to the Editor [pdf] today, in anticipation of a flood of letters by partisans on both sides.

Update: Today's Messenger-Post also covers the energy back-and-forth.

New Kuhl Ad

The Kuhl campaign has started a media effort coordinated with Kuhl's appearance at the House protest this week. Kuhl's new radio and TV ads, which the campaign says will air across the 29th district, are embedded after the break.

Kuhl will also appear at a press conference on C-SPAN C-SPAN2 this morning at 11.