Posts containing facts about the race in the 29th.

Batiste Wants Democratic Turnover

Maj Gen (Ret) John Batiste has is now on the record in support of Democratic control of Congress: 

"The best thing that can happen right now is for one or both of our houses to go Democratic so we can have some oversight," [...] Batiste describes himself as a "lifelong Republican." But now, he said, "It is time for a change."

Though the Massa campaign has used Batiste's written and on-air critiques of Kuhl in advertisements and debates, Batiste has not officially endorsed Massa or any other candidate as far as I know. 

Canandaigua VA Redux

Ever-alert reader Rich forwards the WROC (Rochester CBS Affiliate) coverage of  Eric Massa's press conference on the closing of the acute psychiatric unit at the Canandaigua VA hospital.  Massa's sending a letter to someone at the VA, which by itself is not news.  What is news is Bob Van Wicklin's dumb response.   Let's unpack it:

Our opponent is being highly irresponsible to suggest that services at the Canandaigua VA will be any less that what they are today. 

I'd say that faxing a letter to the VA and holding a press conference is probably more futile than irresponsible.  More importantly, was WROC being irresponsible last week when they broke the story?  How about the D&C?

He's preying on the fears of our veterans.

Generally, "preying on fears" is a charge that sticks when a politician says that some scary event might happen.  This event has happened -- what was feared has occurred.  You can't "prey" on occurrences.

...the facts are that there will be an increase in services at the Canandaigua VA and it will be designated as a national center of excellence for post-traumatic stress disorder.

As usual with Van Wicklin, once we get past the ad hominem, it is time for the spin.  If this is really a fact -- and facts have been sparse in the VA announcements -- it probably doesn't address the issue Massa and the media have raised.    If "increase in services" means more sub-acute beds, as I can only imagine it does (or Van Wicklin wouldn't have been so vague), it still doesn't make up for the loss of acute beds.    Loss of acute beds is loss of service, period, and all the name-calling and spin in the world won't change that fact.

(Update:  A 10/25 D&C story quotes Van Wicklin as saying that Kuhl wanted the VA to wait to close the acute unit until a 22-bed sub-acute unit opens.  It's the range of services, not the number of beds, that counts.  Also, as Rich wrote to point out, the D&C article says that Kuhl knew about the acute unit closing last week and stayed mum about it. )

The Company Massa Keeps

In a piece about Amo Houghton's endorsement in the City News Blog, reporter Krestia DeGeorge mentions a Kuhl press release about Massa's fundraiser with "Liberal Tax and Spend" Nancy Pelosi in New York City.  DeGeorge wonders if a NYC fundraiser with Pelosi is smart, given the Kuhl campaign's attempt to paint Massa as an "outsider".

My take is that the Pelosi fundraiser will have less detrimental effect to the Massa campaign than the Vice-President's visit last month.  Like Cheney, Pelosi mainly attracts the ire of base voters who would never consider switching tickets.  Unlike the Cheney visit, Pelosi is less well-known figure, she's less widely disliked, and her fundraiser in NYC didn't make the Rochester news.

It's worth nothing that Kuhl made no similar fuss when Massa went to New York in August to participate in a fundraiser with Jack Murtha, and Massa didn't make a peep when Republican Majority Leader John Boehner raised funds in Horseheads that same month.  Massa raised a ruckus about Cheney because he wanted to keep Iraq front and center.  Similary, Kuhl's complaint is tied to his campaign's seemingly single-minded focus on Massa's alleged desire to raise taxes.

Kuhl's press release repeats a claim similar to one he made in the debates, that Massa

will raise taxes with the very first bill he cosponsors, the socialized medicine bill to raise taxes at least $24,000 on the average family in the 29th District.

That $24,000 figure is derived by dividing the total cost of healthcare in the United States by the number of families and calling that number a "tax".   Of course, that number doesn't take into account the current cost of health insurance.  That cost would disappear under single-payer health care ("socialized medicine").   The cost of single-payer is up in the air, but one thing is certain:  it will not cost every family 24,000 additional dollars, or anything close to that number.

This is another walk on the stupid side, and what's galling to me is that there's no need for Kuhl to do it.  There are so many other, more reasonable arguments to be made against single-payer health care.  But today's talking point is taxes, and everything has to be hammered into that mold.

Regular readers might notice that I don't generally link to or discuss press releases.  That's for two reasons.  First, most press releases are full of bullshit, no matter who issues them.  Second, there's usually an elephant in the room that goes unmentioned.  In this case, it's the House leadership.  Randy Kuhl wouldn't attend a fundraiser with Denny Hastert in Timbuktu or Alpha Ceti 7, not to mention New York City.  The very fact that Massa is willing to fundraise with his party's leadership is the story Kuhl's press release, and City News, ignores.

News Roundup

Today's Rochester D&C has a story on the importance of the war in Iraq to the race in the 29th.   The headline ("Iraq becomes albatross for Republican Candidates") pretty much says it all.

The Rural Patriot points out that the National Journal has moved the 29th from 36th to 33rd in its ranking of hot races.   The 29th has been steadily inching up in this ranking.  The new Cook and Rothenberg ratings released over the weekend reclassified a number of House races, the 29th not among them.

More VA Political Football

The Massa campaign and local bloggers are both upset about the closing of the 8 bed acute psychiatric unit at the Canandaigua VA hospital. Since this same hospital was "saved" a couple of weeks ago, there's good reason to question why services are being cut immediately after salvation was at hand.

That said, every time I hear Vets complain about the closing of a VA hospital, I wonder why they must receive their health care through a parallel, often inferior, and usually inconvenient delivery system. What if we closed every VA hospital and simply gave Veterans an insurance card that allowed them to recieve quality care at any hospital? Why should a Vet who has a psychiatric crisis be forced to travel to Canandaigua (and now Buffalo or Syracuse) for treatment?

I believe Vets should get the best care possible, but the VA system seems like a hold-over that has outlived its usefulness.

29th a "Toss Up"?

Like a lot of other analysts, Ken Rudin of National Public Radio has the 29th on his list of key races.  But, unlike every other analyst I've seen, he rates the 29th a toss-up.  That might be a shot in the dark, or perhaps it's an indication of things to come.

CQ Re-Rates the 29th

Congressional Quarterly has moved the 29th from "Republican Favored" to "Leans Republican". The article announcing the move doesn't list a concrete reason for the change, but it does mention the debate in Elmira.

Massa on the Radio

Eric Massa will appear tonight on the RIT student-run radio WITR, 89.7 FM in Henrietta. Here are the details straight from the host:

I will be interviewing Eric Massa this Thursday during the show in my candidate interview segment. During the interview we will be accepting questions live over our request line (585) 749-4612. The show is streamed live ( ) and the interview will be made available afterwards at ( ). I currently expect the interview to be at 8:30 and I invite you and your listeners to listen and ask questions that they might have.

Aviation Safety

Randy Kuhl brought the chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, Rep. John Mica, to the 29th yesterday to tour the Rochester and Corning/Elmira airports. Kuhl is the vice-chairman of that committee.

One of the issues discussed was consolidation of controller jobs at airports, through the use of improved software. This will reduce costs at smaller airports. What wasn't discussed was the flip side of that issue, which might have contributed to the deaths of 48 people in August in Lexington, KY. In that case, the single controller on duty cleared a Delta Express commuter jet for the correct runway and then did some paperwork. He didn't see the plane line up on the wrong runway, which was too short. Another set of eyes in the control tower might have made a life-saving difference that day.

I'd rather pay for a few extra controllers who might avert disasters like this, and lay off a bunch of security screeners. The current airport security screening process is mostly theater, and it needs to be re-designed.

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Randy Kuhl can't catch a break. When he voted against party on the seemingly innocuous Horse Protection Action, which outlawed the sale and transportation of horses for human consumption, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Now that vote was criticized at a Democratic farmers forum in Corning, since it will result in a "catastrophic problem of abused and unwanted horses".

Maybe Randy shouldn't have listened to Bo Derek on this one.

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