Posts containing my opinion of the race.

Actions Have Consequences

If you're curious why the Chamber of Commerce, usually a solid backer of Republicans, has been praising Democrats, perhaps this snippet from a post at MonroeRising will provide a clue:

...there’s plenty of pork, like the millions for the grape center in Geneva, NY, thanks to Sen. Chuck Schumer, and Reps. Maurice Hinchey and Michael Arcuri.

MonroeRising runs that quote with a pig cartoon, because, to them, the grape center is obviously "pork".

I have a Republican, conservative friend who's also a successful entrepreneur. The other day, he was describing a new food product that he's developing. He used a government center (I believe it's the grape center -- it was in the Geneva area) to help him with the product. He provided the center with an idea and a sample of the product. In a few days, a food scientist at the center had analyzed his sample, provided ideas on where to source the raw materials, and gave him references to factories in the area that could mix and package it.

My friend had nothing but good to say about the center. He was impressed by the professionalism of the employees and the quality of the advice he got there.

I'm sure there are many legitimate questions to ask about whether the grape center needs a $2.2 million earmark. But I'm also sure that the Chamber of Commerce is A-OK with that earmark, because it's there to benefit the kinds of people who pay Chamber of Commerce dues and who, until recently, believed that Republicans has their best interests at heart. How things have changed.

Strange Bedfellows

I received this mailer [pdf] in yesterday's mail. It was created by a consortium of unions and drug companies, and it congratulates Eric Massa for voting for S-CHIP expansion.

The Hill points out that the Chamber of Commerce is congratulating Massa for his vote on the stimulus package.

Seeing the Chamber of Commerce and drug companies spending money to congratulate Massa has me waiting for frogs to fall out of the sky, peering at the horizon in search of horsemen.

Member Items and Stimulus

Reader Rich sent in a letter from State Senator George Winner, which I've included after the break. Winner tells the Village of Penn Yan that his member items have been eliminated, as have all the member items of Republican Senators.

I haven't seen this reported anywhere, but it seems like big news, especially in the 29th, where we're represented by Republicans in the State Senate. It also sounds like big news for Eric Massa, because the money in the stimulus bill is all the more critical to towns in the 29th.

I'm not an expert on the dysfunctional New York State Senate, so if anyone has any more information on this, I'd appreciate hearing it.

Update: A reader wrote to say that member items in the New York State Senate were almost completely alloted to Republicans. The new plan, apparently, is to eliminate member items entirely. That doesn't mean that it hurts less, but it sounds less partisan that Winner claims in his letter.

But You Promised!

Today's D&C editorial takes Eric Massa to task for changing his position on accepting corporate financing.

I've already said my piece on Massa's decision, so I want to focus on this part of the editorial:

How quickly they forget. President Obama succeeded largely on the backs of voters who made small donations. But it must not be excused that he, too, reneged on his promise to embrace public financing once his campaign war chest started to swell.

There are (at least) two kinds of stupid in this statement.

First, the whole point of changing the campaign financing system is to limit the influence of individual donors. Obama's network of small donors does just that. Obama didn't just ditch public financing, he found a better way to finance his campaign. It will be the model for every future Presidential campaign, and our politics will be better for it.

Second, if we're going to have better politicians, we need to judge them on results, not just promises. Is there any other human pursuit where we expect the participants to do exactly what they said they'd do months ago, regardless of current circumstances? Being upset that Obama used small-donor financing is like complaining that the coach whose team won the Super Bowl didn't play the same quarterback that he said he'd use at the start of the season.

Twitter Devolution

In researching the last post, I took a look at the new NRCC web page, which is, literally, one web page. It contains the NRCC's Twitter feed, a couple of links to other sites, and pointers to the NRCC's Facebook, YouTube and MySpace sites.

As I noted earlier, the Republican Congressional leadership believes that heavy use of Twitter and other social media will help them re-connect with the public that rejected them. This effort has been full of bloopers, as one would expect when men in their fifties and sixties adopt technology favored by their children.

In my last post on this subject, some readers disagreed with my view that it's the content of the tweets, not the fact that you're tweeting, that's important. If you still doubt my view, take a good, hard look at the NRCC's Twitter feed. At this moment, it's composed almost entirely of criticism of Democrats. There's not a single constructive or positive comment.

The NRCC's Twitter feed tells us what's bad about Democrats. I wonder what organization will tell us what's good about Republicans?

Republicans: It's Only Bad When You Do It

Erin Kelly has a story in today's Democrat and Chronicle and Star-Gazette detailing Republican attacks on Eric Massa for accepting corporate contributions.

Here's a choice quote from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which apparently never touches odious corporate money: "It didn't take long for Eric Massa to get comfortable with the way Washington Democrats operate."

Filthy Lucre

Corporate campaign contributions are just a fact of Congressional life. Members of Congress in competitive seats just don't have the time to do the hands-on fundraising required to finance their campaigns. And corporations are very eager to stuff money into the pockets of Members who sit on the committees that regulate them.

So, in retrospect, it was a bit naive to think that Eric Massa would continue to finance his campaigns without corporate donations. As someone who's never believed that union PACs are any better than corporate PACs, I'm not that concerned with his decision. Moreover, the donations he accepted came from local companies that would have gotten his attention without donating a penny.

Unfortunately for Massa's 2010 Republican opponent, corporate funding is a cornerstone of every Republican Congressional campaign. There's little chance that this will become a campaign issue, and the only people who will be upset about it aren't going to vote for a Republican anyway.

That all said, Eric Massa's decision to take corporate funding is a classic example of chucking out a supposedly heartfelt principle when it is no longer politically expedient. This one seems to have escaped media notice, but a few more like this will constitute a troubling pattern.

Sideshow Follies

The D&C reports that Eric Massa, Chris Lee [NY-26] and Dan Maffei [NY-25] all support the Stop the Congressional Pay Raise Act.

Opposing Congressional pay has been a sure way to get headlines for decades. Members of Congress are generally hard workers, they have to maintain two residences, and it's better to have them receive decent pay than to be swayed by bribes. If any public offiicial deserves a good salary, it's them. The pay story is simply a distraction. Someday we might have a media sophisticated enough to ignore this story, but until then expect it to crop up every two years.

It's Huge, I Tell Ya

Reader Rich pointed out the attachment [excel spreadsheet] to this press release, which details the stimulus targeted at the 29th.

The breath and depth of the money that will be poured into the 29th by the current stimulus bill makes your average list of earmarks look like chump change. Here are a few that caught my eye:

  • Half a billion dollars for electronic medical records in New York State.
  • $7.1 million for an East Rochester school construction project.
  • $30 million for Monroe County water treatment.

The list goes on and on. The national media is treating us to a diffuse and ill-defined discussion of "pork". The list that Massa's office released is nothing but real money for important projects, and after all the fussing and fighting is done, I think it will play well in the 29th district.

A Good Haul

Jimmy Vielkind of the New York Observer calls Massa's set of committee appointments a good haul. I agree. Half of the press releases issued by the Kuhl office announced a Homeland Security grant for some local fire department or ambulance service. Massa's appointment to that committee will allow him to influence legislation that will have a real impact on the district.

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