Monday, December 31, 2007

Tomorrow, It Begins!

Tomorrow is the first day of 2008. Next year we will be inundated with campaign ads from presidential and congressional candidates alike. While we've already seen the beginning of the campaign season, what we will witness next year will only make the last several months look like pre-season scrimmages between Pop Warner football teams, i.e., completely irrelevant.

While most of the country will focus mainly on the presidential race, those of us in New York's 29th Congressional district will concentrate more on the congressional campaign. I started this blog three months ago with the express purpose of supporting Republicans who represent Ontario County, NY, and there is no question that the Dems will do anything in their power to unseat Randy Kuhl and try to expand their majority in Congress, making this the number one race in our area. Last year, despite the extreme unpopularity of the Iraq War at the time, and various scandals coming out against certain members of the GOP, Congressman Kuhl still beat a very tough challenger by a 2.9% margin. And even though he won in every county other than a bluish part of Monroe County, his margin of victory here in Ontario County was the slimiest in the district: 2.4%.

This year, though, with even leading Democrats admitting that the Iraq War surge is working, the Dems decided to focus their attention elsewhere to "kitchen table" issues, more specifically socialized medicine "health care." Back in October, when Congressman Kuhl was fighting against the Dem leadership's plan to expand SCHIP to idiotic levels, Massa told Time magazine that he was "now making SCHIP his No. 1 priority." Liberal 527s started airing attack ads around the clock demonizing our good Congressman, but his position ultimately prevailed, and as Rottenchester pointed out yesterday, Congressman Kuhl can still tell voters that "he 'voted for S-CHIP', and he has plenty of time before the 2008 campaign for voters to forget what happened this year" (Editor's note: Given that Gallup poll, I don't think Congressman Kuhl wants voters to forget that he fought against expanding this program to cover upper-income families, and because he and other Republicans stood up against the lies and deceptions that Dems and liberals threw at them, the program retained its intended purpose: to cover children from lower-income families, which is exactly where most people stand on the issue!).

So with the surge working in Iraq, with SCHIP (Massa's "no. 1 priority") no longer an issue, and with voters' approval of the Democrat-led Congress swirling in the toilet for months, where does Massa go from here? Honestly, I have no idea, but a lot can happen in eleven months, and I'm sure he'll campaign even more aggressively than he did in 2006. Therefore, if we are determined to keep Randy Kuhl in Congress, we must work even harder than we did last year. When over 45% of the voters in the 29th are either registered Republicans or Conservatives, our job is certainly much easier than Massa's, but rather than aim for a mere win, our goal needs to be an overwhelming, runaway victory (think more of what the Pats did to our Bills a few weeks ago rather than squeaking by the Giants on Saturday).

The biggest county up for grabs, of course, is Ontario County, and Massa's people know it! Even though nearly 46% of the voters in this part of the county are either registered Republicans or Conservatives, Congressman Kuhl only received 702 more votes here than Massa, despite the fact that the bluest area of our county, Geneva, is not even in the district! Fortunately, we have already begun to mobilize supporters here like never before. A new Young Republicans chapter was created here over the summer (to join, simply email This blog's viewership has more than tripled since October. And the Ontario County Republican Committee is committed to expanding its voter outreach to unprecedented levels next year.

According to the Cook Political Report, this race is listed as "Lean Republican." Let's surprise all of the pundits next year and win big. Congressman Kuhl deserves our full-fledged support, and we deserve to have him reelected next year. So with that, I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Rudy's "Looking Good"

Click here for a memo from Brent Seaborn, Strategy Director for the Giuliani campaign. The last month has certainly not been the greatest for Rudy, but even after the Huckabee rise, Rudy still leads in the RealClearPolitics national polling average by 3.5%, and he still holds the lead in the Intrade Market Prices for the Republican nomination. As I've stated before, Rudy's "stragetery" all along was to survive in January, win Florida, and sail to victory on Super Tuesday. And as Seaborn's memo notes, Rudy's still up in Florida and most of the states holding their primaries on Super Tuesday, including delegate-rich New York, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, etc. Definitely take a look at Seaborn's memo; it's a great read, and blows the "conventional wisdom" out of the water.

Also, following up on my earlier post about Rudy's Rochester visit, it was a great honor for me to meet him on his visit up here. There are plans for some folks from our area to campaign for him in New Hampshire this weekend. The plans are still being finalized, but if nothing changes, I'll be leaving for the Granite State on Friday, most likely returning late Sunday night.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rudy Out of Hospital, Coming to Rochester

As you all probably know, Rudy was hospitalized last night in St. Louis for flu-like symptoms, but I'm happy to report that he's been released, feeling better, and according to 13WHAM, will still be visiting the Rochester area tomorrow night for his scheduled fundraiser and other events. Earlier this week, I was invited to one of the events to meet Rudy, which was definitely a HUGE Christmas present, so I'm very much looking forward to still meeting him tomorrow night!

Today's Wrap-Up Headlines

"After One Year in Power in Congress, Dems Don’t Get Much Done," McClatchy, December 20, 2007

"Key Setbacks Dim Luster of Democrats' Year," Washington Post, December 20, 2007

"Democratic Congress Recesses With A Whimper," U.S. News and World Report, December 20, 2007

"Democrats Savor Power for a Year But End It Feeling Unfulfilled," Los Angeles Times, December 20, 2007

"Party Base Slams top Democrats for Yielding," Washington Times, December 20, 2007

"Congress's Mixed Results; Democratic Promises Meet Legislative Reality," Washington Post Editorial, December 20, 2007

"Democrats Will Start 2008 With Low Ratings," New York Sun, December 20, 2007

"Chance of Iraq Policy Change Slim for Democrats," Congressional Quarterly, December 19, 2007

"Democrats Hit Limits of PAY-GO Rule," Congressional Quarterly, December 19, 2007

"AMT Patch Passes, Without Offsets But With Consternation," CongressDaily AM, December 20, 2007

"House GOP is Pleased," Roll Call, December 20, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kuhl Votes for Omnibus and Energy Bills

The Hornell Evening Tribune has the story on the omnibus spending bill here. The passage of this bill helps to continue to fund the Iraq War (i.e., for our men and women fighting for us over there) and gives additional support to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

From Congressman Kuhl:
As the clock ticks closer to recess, the Democratic leadership is struggling to complete all of the work of Congress in only a few days. Last night I voted for the Omnibus Appropriation Bill. The passing of this omnibus ends the months of uncertainty for government agencies waiting to find out what their budget will be for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. This country has gone without a budget for too long and I am pleased that the Democratic majority finally decided to put political games aside and fund the critical agencies that keep our country running. In addition, I secured $5.1 million in federal funds in the Omnibus bill for the 29th district for a wide spectrum of projects. Funding theses vital programs and projects are critical to the economic development of the 29th District. For more information click here.

Today, I voted for the Energy Bill. This energy bill is vastly better than the previous House energy bill that included a $21.5 billion dollar tax increase and was a job killer. This bill raises automobile fuel efficiency standards, mandates additional production of ethanol, reduces home energy consumption, and does not include the offensive tax hikes. While I believe that the bill should have included the renewable portfolio standard for electric utilities, this legislation is a good first step to achieving energy independence.

IRRESPONSIBLE: Democrats Prepare to Sock 23 Million Middle-Class Americans with Massive Tax Hike

From The Hill:

Hoyer says Congress may not be able to patch AMT

By Mike Soraghan
Posted: 12/18/07 12:06 PM [ET]

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) hinted Tuesday that Congress may not be able to stop a big tax increase from hitting 23 million Americans.

Hoyer, pressed on whether Congress would resolve disputes over the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), said, "Maybe."

His remark came as a surprise, since it has widely been assumed that Democrats will give up their effort to "pay for" the AMT patch and go with the Senate plan to load the cost onto the deficit.

Hoyer's statement came the morning after nearly 30 conservative Blue Dog Democrats signaled their discontent with the Senate AMT plan by voting with Republicans against an adjournment resolution.

Hoyer was asked about efforts to resolve the dispute. He said he had come to the 11 a.m. briefing directly from the meeting to resolve the impasse and did not know the "state of play on AMT."

"There's no deal" with the Blue Dogs, he said.

An AMT patch must be passed soon to avoid a big tax hike. By waiting as long as they have, lawmakers have already raised the risk of a tax-filing mess that could provide fodder for political attacks. The IRS says it needs seven weeks from the time the president signs the AMT patch into law to update its forms and re-program its computers.

Unlike Some, Kuhl Doesn't Spend Taxpayer Money to Lease a Car

According to the D&C, "[t]hree of the Rochester area's five members of Congress are among a minority of House members who use taxpayer-funded accounts to lease vehicles in their districts." Congressman Kuhl was one of the two in the area who does NOT use taxpayer-funds to lease a car.

The three congresspeople who do this practice "cited their districts' size as the reason for needing to lease a car." What irks me the most about this response is that Congressman Kuhl has the largest district geographically in New York, from Gates to the eastern most part of Chemung County and the western most part of Cattaraugus County, which is larger than the size of the State of Connecticut, and yet he doesn't need to use tax dollars to fund a car to travel through his district, despite the fact that he continues to visit each of the 145 towns in his district at least once a year. If any congressperson from New York could justify his district's size as a reason for this expense, it's Congressman Kuhl, and yet he chooses not to do it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Kuhl Votes Against Tax Increase

As I reported previously, the Senate passed an AMT patch that would not include a tax increase, and Congressman Kuhl applauded this action. However, the Dems in the House were still trying to push through an AMT patch with a tax increase, which Congressman Kuhl voted against, keeping his status as a Taxpayer's Best Friend. From the Hornell Evening Tribune:
U.S. Rep. John "Randy" Kuhl, R-29, is in favor of the [AMT] fix, but voted against a bill passed by the House Wednesday to do just that, because he said it increased taxes to make up the gap.

"The Senate passed a bill last week that would index the AMT without any tax increases in it," he said Thursday morning, during his weekly telephone press conference call. "The House majority has not taken the same position, as a result of the adoption of the 'paygo' rule, it's meant, in my estimation, to give the majority the ability to raise taxes under the guise of pay as you go. The House fix included tax increases, which I did not support, because I don't believe you need to put permanent increases in to take care of a temporary problem.

"They say that we cannot index this issue without having taxes make up for the loss of revenue," Kuhl added. "That's the stalemate we've had."

Massa, of course, supports the tax increase, claiming the bill will only tax "high income earners."

But here's a great column from Michael Barone on the issue (note the section in bold that counters Massa's claim):
Democrats, conscious of the popularity of some recent governors who have raised taxes (like Mark Warner of Virginia), seem on the surface unfazed by the political risks of tax increases and are preparing to argue that they'll raise taxes only on the rich. But this may be awkward at a time when the budget deficit is rapidly declining and when we face the nontrivial possibility of a recession.

A tax increase in a recession is usually not a good idea. And Republicans will say that when Democrats promise to tax the rich, they end up raising taxes on the ordinary person, as Bill Clinton and the Democratic Congress did in 1993. The Democrats' desperation to patch the AMT and their willingness to break their own paygo rule suggest that they fear the wrath of those New Jersey suburbanites more than they let on.
[Emphasis added]

Friday, December 14, 2007

Kuhl Co-Sponsors Bills on Health Issues

First, Congressman Kuhl co-sponsored a bill designating the first week of June as National CPR and AED Awareness Week.

Second, Congressman Kuhl has co-sponsored a bill saving projects for disabled children.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kuhl: A Taxpayer's Best Friend

Two days ago, Rottenchester reported on Channel 13's hit job "in-depth story" on Congressman Kuhl's bipartisan fact-finding mission to Brazil. 13WHAM's web article posed the following question, "How much did it cost taxpayers for U.S. Representative Randy Kuhl (R, N.Y.) to spend six days in Brazil?" The figures haven't come out yet, but I can only assume that it was a few thousand dollars.

As part of my response to this story, I wanted to contrast this with the millions of dollars that Congressman Kuhl has saved average taxpayers through his votes in Congress. So, I contacted Americans for Tax Reform to get its response on Kuhl's tax record. This morning, I received the following statement from ATR President, Grover Norquist:

Randy Kuhl has pledged in writing to the people of his district that he would oppose income tax hikes. He has kept his word. On a series of tax and limited government votes, Kuhl has demonstrated real leadership. In the last Congress, he had a "Hero of the Taxpayer" voting score of 92%. [OntarioGOP Note: Kuhl's ATR rating in 2006 was 95%, and in 2005 was 88%, giving him a combined ATR score of 92% in the 109th Congress.]

Kuhl's strength in defending the taxpayers of the 29th district of New York is particularly-praiseworthy given the unrelenting opposition of Big Labor. Time and again, he has sided with taxpayers over corrupt union bosses seeking to spend taxpayer dollars to enrich themselves.

Question to Channel 13: Why do you want to investigate the cost of a few thousand dollars for a legitimate, previously disclosed trip, while ignoring the tax savings that Congressman Kuhl's constituents have received through his service?

Dems Fail in Congress, Turning on Each Other

With the latest Gallup poll showing that 70% of Americans disapprove of Congress' job performance, come the latest headlines:

Washington Post: Democrats Blaming Each Other For Failures

Wall Street Journal: Intraparty Feuds Dog Democrats, Stall Congress

USA Today: Surge's success holds chance to seize the moment in Iraq; Instead, Democrats are lost in time...

UPDATE: Great minds think alike. From Congressman Kuhl's blog:

Yesterday, Republican Leader John Boehner said "What's going on now is something I've never seen in the 17 years that I've been here in terms of how you finish at the end. I've seen things jammed up. I've seen us here late. But at least someone had a plan. There appears to be no plan." Indeed, the following headlines in today's news illustrate a majority in complete and utter disarray:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kuhl, GOP Challenging Dems on Pork

From Congressman Kuhl:
Today the Democratic leadership is planning to unveil their massive appropriations bill, covering funding for nearly all federal agencies. To protect the American people from the thousands of earmarks and frivolous pork, the GOP leaders have assembled a virtual "Butcher Shop" to find and publicize scores of wasteful earmarks, pork-barrel spending, and harmful policy that will be included into the Majority's "omnibus" spending bill.

Just like several other critical bills, the Democratic majority is crafting this legislation behind closed doors to avoid criticism and debate. This means that I will not get to see or review any of the new earmarks until the final legislation is introduced. Hiding bills until the last minute goes against a promise that Speaker Pelosi made: "Members should have at least 24 hours to examine bill and conference report text prior to floor consideration." (Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "A New Direction for America," p. 24

I encourage you all to check out the Butcher Shop. This site will dissect what are likely to be hundreds of pages of legislation, looking for earmarks. It is vital that the Democratic leadership be kept accountable for their pet projects. The Butcher Shop is our attempt at making sure that they are not wasting taxpayers' money.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Kuhl Announces Security Grant to Firefighters

Congressman Kuhl announced last week that the "Belfast Fire Department will receive $92,942 for operations and safety programs from the Department of Homeland Security's Fire Grant Program."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Senate Passes AMT Patch

Finally, the Senate passed an AMT patch last night that won't raise taxes, unlike Rangel's proposal in the House. Congressman Kuhl applauded the Senate for this, and is "hopeful that the House leadership will see the movement from the Senate and bring a clean AMT patch to the floor immediately."

Energy Bill

As Rottenchester reported today, Congressman Kuhl voted against the Democrat's Energy Bill. The major reasons are because the now amended bill does not do anything whatsoever to help lower gas prices and the like, but rather will increase taxes and, ultimately, the price of gas. The bill also contains many silly earmarks, like completing a rainforest in Iowa and financing a speaking tour for Al Bore Gore, which are detailed below.

From Congressman Kuhl:

Today I voted against the Democratic No-Energy Bill. This bill (which is a 1,055 page bill and was introduced last night at 8:30 p.m.) doesn’t include anything to lower gas prices for American families, doesn’t include anything to help families deal with heating costs this winter, and doesn’t include anything to increase domestic energy production. In fact, the only things that the Democratic energy bill does are to increase taxes, raise gas and home heating costs, and kill American jobs. I can not vote for a bill that includes a $21.5 billion dollar tax increase and causes a net loss of 4.9 million American jobs by 2030.

If the tax increase wasn’t enough, this bill is loaded with mind-boggling pork that will let Members of Congress channel billions to their preferred “green” constituencies. Including $3 billion in funds for green projects like:

  • Financing a speaking tour by former Vice President Al Gore to promote his documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
  • Replacing police cars in Beverly Hills with Lexus Hybrids,
  • Buying energy-efficient hybrid snow-mobiles for ski resorts in Aspen.
  • Completing an indoor rainforest in Iowa - Because when I think of the rainforest, I think of Iowa.
Also included in this bill is a plethora of hidden earmarks including:

  • Sen. Baucus’ $161 million earmark for the Plum Creek Timber Company’s Montana Land Holdings for “native fish habitat conservation.” An earmark to a timber company for fish conservation? Maybe I am missing something but last time I checked fish don’t live in trees.
  • Chairman Rangel’s $2 billion earmark for the state of New York to develop a rail line from the JFK Airport to lower Manhattan.
The bill also includes $200 million in assistance for countries like China and India to develop energy technologies, purchase oil, and increase coal plants. With the overwhelming amount of ridiculous and hidden earmarks, it is no surprise that Speaker Pelosi hid this bill until late last night. It is unfortunate that Democrats have chosen to address this issue in such a political manipulative way, because the bill contains many provisions that I support wholeheartedly. For example, I am a cosponsor of a bill that would increase CAFÉ standards for vehicles to 35 mpg by 2020; a cosponsor of legislation to establish a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that would require utilities to produce 15 percent of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020; and I recently sent a letter to leadership urging inclusion of an enhanced and expanded Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). We need a real solution to the energy crisis and that can only occur when the Democratic leadership stops playing games.

What's Wrong with This "Hornell Evening Tribune" Headline?

This is the headline appearing in the Hornell Evening Tribune: "'Sorry' but it didn't happen: Kuhl, Massa agree on one thing: Challenger didn't apologize over criticism of Brazil trip".

What's wrong with it? When I first read it, my heart skipped a beat since it's not what we've been reporting here this week. But if you actually read the article, you discover that they still don't agree on what happened. The only thing they agree on is that Massa didn't apologize to Engel directly, since Engel was in Brazil (as I reported here), but Massa's still claiming he didn't call Engel's office to apologize, while Kuhl (via the information relayed to him by Engel's office), still says that Massa did call Engel's office to apologize about this whole flap (read here for why that's very relevant). The Evening Tribune's headline is only adding more confusion to this whole thing:

Massa, the Democrat who challenged Kuhl in 2006 and will again in 2008, denied the claim made in the e-mail, saying he's never spoken to Engel before.

"I called Eliot Engel's office to verify what the Washington Post said about the delegation trip," he said. "That's the only conversation I've had there. [OntarioGOP Note: This is the first time that I know of where Massa actually admits to calling Engel's office.]

"What Randy is talking about, I have no idea," Massa added.

During his weekly telephone press conference call this morning, Kuhl was asked whether or not Massa had apologized, due to the conflicting statements made by the 29th Congressional seat opponents.

"He hasn't," Kuhl said. "He called Eliot Engel's office to apologize, but Eliot was in Brazil and wasn't reachable."

Asked why Massa was apologizing, Kuhl said he assumed because of the comments made about the trip.

"Eliot Engel was insulted by it," he said. "His (Massa's) statements speak for themselves."

Kuhl referred media inquiries about the matter to Engel, because the two had discussed the alleged apology attempt.

"That's the statement Eliot Engel made to me,"
he said. "You'd have to question Eliot Engel or his staff about it, but that was the message given to me." (Emphasis added)

UPDATE: I should have slammed the first paragraph of the article to begin with: "So, apparently Eric Massa didn't apologize to the man who planned a congressional delegation trip to Brazil last week." There are two sides to this story, even after you read the whole article, and apparently the Evening Tribune only sides with Massa's version if that's how they want to begin this story. Shameless!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Rudy Filing in NY Tomorrow!

Rudy will be filing the appropriate paperwork to qualify for the New York Republican Presidential Primary ballot tomorrow at 12:00 pm, at the New York State Board of Elections, 40 Steuben Street in Albany. This isn't shocking, obviously, given that he's the favorite son of New York, and his massive lead in the primary polls here, but it would be newsworthy if another Republican candidate actually decided to file in New York, which none have done to date.

While tomorrow is the deadline for Republican presidential candidates to file for New York's primary by submitting petitions, December 11th is the deadline for Republicans to file if they are either (a) receiving presidential primary matching fund payments (or meet the eligibility criteria regarding matchable contributions), or (b) determined by the Republican commissioners of the State Board of Elections to be a "nationally known and recognized candidate and the candidacy of such person for the party nomination for president is generally and seriously advocated or recognized according to reports in the national or state news media."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What Was Missing from Massa's Press Conference?

Rottenchester has a recap of Massa's presser from earlier today, and do you know what was missing? Not a single reporter asked Massa about his private apology to Engel about the Brazil trip. Instead, we have Massa claiming the following:
By calling me ignorant in the newspaper, Randy Kuhl clearly wants this trip to become the central issue in this election. I want to talk about the economy, health care for children, how we fund home heating assistance. Randy Kuhl wants to talk about this trip because he won't answer simple questions.
Um, Eric, I don't think Congressman Kuhl is trying to make this trip a central issue of the campaign, but rather your overall ignorance, of which this present case is a prime example. Even a Democrat Congressman from New York has questioned your fitness to serve in Congress, so it's a perfectly legitimate issue! Fortunately, a reporter did raise a question about Massa's above comment. According to Rottenchester, "Rick Miller of the Olean paper asked whether it wasn't Massa who's making it an issue," which of course he is. Massa responded about going on and on about some trip that some people from Corning took or something, and the issue was dropped. Otherwise, it was just an ordinary, incoherent Massa presser, with some fine gems, including "Don't tell me what Democrats are saying [about the surge]" and that he won't be voting for Rudy Giuliani (oh darn, really?).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Relevance of Massa's Apology and Flip Flop

In response to my previous post's update, Rottenchester got the following comment from Massa spokesman Jared Smith: "Eric Massa has made absolutely no apologies on this subject and stands by his previous statements."

So now we have a categorical denial from Massa, while Eliot Engel's office still asserts that Massa called them while Engel was away to apologize.

This whole episode speaks volumes for Massa and his campaign. Massa had a field day with bashing Congressman Kuhl about this trip for a week now. He thought he had a campaign issue and ran with it, gaining some press coverage and generating lots of buzz in the blogosphere in an otherwise slow news week. Yet, in order to attack Congressman Kuhl, Massa would have to imply that the five Democrats who also went on this bipartisan trip were wrong in going, particularly the trip's organizer, Eliot Engel, a fellow Democrat from New York serving his tenth term in Congress. Massa derided this trip publicly, yet Engel's office claims that Massa privately called them to apologize. This is as two faced as you can get. He actively drums up this non-story to create controversy, and then knowing this would anger the Democrats on the trip, he does an about-face privately. You know, "Psst, I really didn't mean to offend you, just my opponent. I mean, I almost won last year, and I need to exploit this as much as I can. Sorry!"

And then, after it's revealed publicly that he did call to apologize, he refutes it. Yet, one has to ask, why on Earth would Eliot Engel's office lie about this? Engel is a Democrat's Democrat, a guy who would love to see his party gain seats next year. In fact, it only stands to reason that Massa would want to apologize to such a powerful New York Democrat like Engel, given his seniority in the party, his access to donors, his contacts on Capitol Hill, etc.

But after Engel's office publicly disclosed Massa's apology, this created a conundrum for Massa. He either had to (a) admit that he did apologize to Engel, which would mean that Congressman Kuhl also deserved an apology (i.e., Congressman Kuhl did the exact same thing as Engel here, so logically, he should get an apology too), or (b) deny that he apologized, since it makes him look weak and hypocritical to the public after how much he drummed up this issue. Massa chose the latter route, but now risks being publicly accused of lying from a senior member of his own party and/or privately lose the support of such a high ranking New York Democrat.

Massa's certainly dug a big hole for himself...

Massa Flip-Flopping on Apology

Rottenchester contacted the Massa campaign today about the story I posted yesterday regarding Massa's apology to U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) for his remarks about the Brazil trip. Massa now claims that he hasn't talked to Engel about this and stands by his original statement. However, Meghan Tisinger, Congressman Kuhl's press secretary, just confirmed with me that Engel is backing up their story that Massa did indeed call him to apologize about this.

UPDATE: Megan Tisinger just emailed me with a clarification on this. Because Engel was in Brazil, Massa did not talk directly to Engel, but did call Engel's office to apologize. Note that Massa's now claiming that he "not had the opportunity to speak with Congressman Engel." Obviously Massa's trying to wiggle out of this by stating flatly that he didn't talk to Engel directly, which is technically true, but with no mention that he had spoken with someone in Engel's office to apologize.

Monday, December 3, 2007

U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) Questions Massa's "Fitness to Serve in Congress"

So Massa thought he had a campaign issue with Congressman Kuhl's bipartisan fact-finding mission to Brazil. Instead, a leading Democrat congressman from New York responded to the criticism by questioning Massa's "fitness to serve in Congress" and an editorial appeared in the D&C stating that "Massa's assertion that learning more about ethanol production in Brazil doesn't help Kuhl's constituents, who include Monroe County residents, is wrong" (Emphasis added). Massa ultimately apologized to the Democrat congressman in question, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel.

Here's a statement from Congressman Kuhl on the matter:
WASHINGTON – Dec. 3 - U.S. Representative John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr. (R-Hammondsport) issued the following statement today about Eric Massa's apology to Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) after Massa made inappropriate comments on the congressional delegation mission to Brazil:

"Over the last few days Mr. Massa has made false accusations and insulted the reasoning behind a bipartisan congressional delegation mission to Brazil. Friday during an interview with Brian Tumulty of Gannett News, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) who chaired the congressional delegation trip to Brazil, was asked about Mr. Massa's statement. Rep. Engel responded by calling it a cheap shot and questioned "[Mr. Massa's] fitness to serve in Congress." Mr. Massa then called Rep. Engel's Washington DC office to apologize for his inappropriate comments."

"While I have grown accustom to Mr. Massa's misguided and self-serving attacks, it is unbelievable that he would attack members of his own political party and then upon getting criticized by a Democratic leader, turn around and redact his comments. This bipartisan congressional delegation trip allowed nine representatives to see firsthand how energy independence can positively affect the economic and environmental welfare of a prosperous nation. It is unclear how Mr. Massa believes a trip to Iowa by this delegation would produce equally valuable results."

"This trip has allowed us to gain a greater understanding of South America's largest and most populous nation and meet with Brazilian leaders, including the Vice President, in an effort to form a stronger alliance. As our country faces the challenges of the twenty-first century, it is imperative that we work in tandem with our global partners to find solutions to benefit us all. We cannot ignore the great progress and ideas emerging from all corners of the world. As representatives of the United States, we have the duty to ensure our constituents have access to the best the world has to offer and to work unilaterally to improve the lives of all Americans."

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Conservative Mind and Imagination

Gallup released a poll a few days ago showing that "Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats or independents to rate their mental health as excellent." In addition, the poll finds that the "relationship between party identification and reports of excellent mental health persists even within categories of income, age, gender, church attendance, and education."

I wasn't sure how I was going to comment on this poll without it looking like I was saying, "Haha, Republicans are saner than others." Yet, a poll with these findings can't be ignored after similar polls have shown that Republicans are happier, are more satisfied with their committed relationships, and even report having better sex lives than others.

I know that some (mostly liberals) will dismiss these findings with the age old stereotype that Republicans have more money, and ergo, better lives. However, as the Gallup poll shows, Republicans of all income ranges report better mental health than others of the same income level. So, again, why these findings?

I think these polls demonstrate "the role of the imagination as a source of wisdom and as a source of more or less dangerous illusion" (Claes G. Ryn, Will, Imagination, and Reason: Babbitt, Croce, and the Problem of Reality, p. 147). In other words, "[c]ertain types of imagination draw us into misleading views of the world, and indeed, may make us lose touch with realty. Other types tend to improve our hold on life" (Ibid.). I firmly believe that most conservatives hold a type of imagination that ultimately gives them an improved outlook on life.

Why do I believe this? Russell Kirk, one of the greatest conservative philosophers of the 20th century, tried in vain to compile a list of beliefs which all conservatives have in common. He eventually came up with six canons of conservative thought and wrote about them in The Conservative Mind. Here's his second canon:

Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems; conservatives resist what Robert Graves calls "Logicalism" in society. This prejudice has been called "the conservatism of enjoyment"--a sense that life is worth living, according to Walter Bagehot "the proper source of an animated Conservatism."

It is this resistance to "Logicalism" that makes conservatives abhor utopian thinkers, which Kirk deals with in his fifth canon. On the other hand, the modern liberal's main goal is to create a utopia through increasing the influence and power of the state, particularly in welfare matters, thereby creating what might be called a "nanny state." Since most conservatives realize (or if you prefer, imagine) that human existence can never be completely quantified, which is the only way that utopias can ever be achieved, i.e., you cannot create perfection without a fully complete knowledge of human existence, they settle with this outlook on life while focusing their energies on other pursuits to achieve fulfillment. Most liberals, however, will never give up on their imagined utopias, and as we all know, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, making for a much more miserable outlook on life.

Anyway, just some philosophical musings on a snowy day while watching football. Feel free to leave a comment if you'd like.

Comments Now Unmoderated

When I first started this blog, I decided to moderate all comments posted and either accept or reject them before publishing, based on my previous experience with other blogs I've authored. During the two months I've had this blog, I've only rejected one comment, simply because it was a profanity-laced screed. I thought this was a good practice until yesterday when I received an email from someone stating that his comments weren't being published. He thought that I was rejecting his comments, when in fact they never appeared, an error which I attribute to a Blogger glitch.

Therefore, since I've only had to reject one comment in two months and the purpose of this blog is to foster healthy debate, I've decided to set the comment settings to publish all comments to a post automatically without my pre-approval. I still reserve the right to delete any comments which I deem offensive, and if the comments section turns into total anarchy as we get closer to next year's election, then I will change the settings back. Furthermore, any comment left on this blog will automatically be emailed to me, allowing me the chance to rapidly remove any unruly comments, and all commenters will have to complete a word verification step to prevent comment spam.

You might be asking yourself, "Well, how do I make sure my comment isn't deleted?" While the moderating of comments on my blog is completely subjective, simple rules of common decency will be applied. If you still have no idea of what I mean by this, here are some example comments. If your comment is "I agree/disagree with Candidate A because of X, Y, and Z," your comment is perfectly acceptable. If your comment is "Candidate B is an f'ing a--hole" or "Candidate C's wife is a slut," your comment will definitely be deleted. Any comments bordering on offensive but still have some factual basis, such as "Candidate C's wife is a slut, and here's a link to her arrest report for hooking," will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

I hope my rules are simple enough to follow, but we shall see...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Potential Challenger Against Arcuri

While most of Ontario County is in the 29th Congressional district, we can't forget our friends in Geneva who live in the 24th. From the Syracuse Post-Standard:
With time running out to find a challenger to freshman Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-Utica, for the 2008 election, Republicans said Thursday they may have a candidate.

Richard L. Hanna, an Oneida County businessman, is giving serious consideration to running on the Republican ticket for the 24th Congressional District seat, a party spokesman said.