Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Congressman Kuhl Responds To Today's MPN Editorial

You know, because MPN has nothing else to complain about, they've decided to devote an entire editorial criticizing our congressman for sending out a mailer which informs constituents about the economic stimulus package. The editorial mentions that the IRS has already sent notices to us about the package details. I, for one, never received such a notice, though my fiancee did, even though we both qualify for the rebate. I'm sure many other constituents in our district also didn't receive this notice, and given that Kuhl's office has already received hundreds of calls on this matter, I think he's fully justified to send out a mailer to us about it.

Here is Congressman Kuhl's press release on the editorial:
WASHINGTON – March 25, 2008 - Today the Daily Messenger Post Newspaper published an editorial titled, “Campaigning on your nickel,” which criticized a recent district mailing Rep. Kuhl distributed to inform his constituents about the details of the economic stimulus package. To read the editorial click here.

Below is the Congressman’s response to their editorial:

In your March 25th editorial criticizing my mailing about the economic stimulus package you say, “Unless you’ve been conducting a census on polar bears north of the Arctic Circle, you’ve no doubt heard of the federal government’s economic stimulus package.” Well, it must have been a busy year for Arctic pollsters because nearly 200 residents of the 29th district called my office in early February with questions about their rebate check.

The purpose of my mailer was to inform my constituents about the details of the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. Your editorial actually pointed out why I distributed the mailing when you inaccurately said, “Although specific guidelines affect the bottom line, as long as you file a federal income tax return, you’re getting something.” That is wrong and frankly if you had read my mailing then you would have known the truth.

The truth is that some individuals who file a federal income tax return and who have less than $3,000 of qualifying income will not be eligible for the stimulus payment. There are also maximum income limits that will preclude those making above those limits from receiving a rebate check. Another important detail is that individuals who are not typically required to file a return, such as senior citizens, will have to file a tax return to get their rebate checks.

I understand that the editorial board at the Messenger Post Newspaper has a thorough understanding of tax regulation and the tax code. But this mailing was for everyone else with questions about when and how they are going to get the money they will use to put gas in their car and pay off their debt. And if MPN wants to follow up with the correct information about the details of the stimulus feel free to contact my office with any questions, like many of my constituents did.


Rep. Randy Kuhl


Monday, March 17, 2008

Massa v. Dickert: Libel Case Settled

It appears that, at long last, Eric has settled with Sanford Dickert, his former campaign manager, on the latter's libel suit against Massa.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Blogversation III: Blog Misinformation & "He Said, She Said"

Rottenchester has a great roundup on the lastest postings in the Blogversation, and I would like to thank Evan, Rottenchester, and Exile for allowing me to participate in this great conversation and apologize for not posting my remarks on the last topic until now. The last few days have been very focused on other issues. On Friday, I was covering the Kuhl announcement, and when I was prepared to write my Blogversation response on Monday, the Spitzer scandal broke, so all of my limited free time from work (which is the only time I have to blog) had to be focused on such a big story, since it's not everyday that your governor resigns.

So with that, I'll give a brief reply to the last questions which Evan asked. First, Evan asked if we agreed on whether we "would like to see more fact-based reporting -- instead of the 'He said, She said' style." I do agree that the media have an obligation to gather factual information and present it to the public, and naturally, a simple recap of what one politician says and then the adversary's response would not fall under that obligation. Sometimes these exchanges remind me of those hilarious "Point/Counterpoint" skits which SNL ran in the late '70s with Jane Curtain and Dan Aykroyd (you remember, "Jane, you ignorant slut..."). And yet this is what the media are accused of doing on numerous occasions. I wouldn't say it's a journalist being lazy, but rather the fear of bias which factors into a journalist's decision when reporting such matters. I understand the fear, and a journalist has to walk that fine line between "fact reporting" and an "opinion commentary," and in some cases, a vindictive "hit job" on a particular candidate or issue. Of course, as I've stated before, I'm not a fan of the "objective journalist" model, and would prefer reporters who wear their politics on their sleeves rather than claim their "bias free" when they're not, but as journalists continue to strive for "objectivity" when reporting on political affairs, these issues will only continue to grow.

As to the question about whether the rise of blogs will either increase misinformation or rise to a form of respected journalism, the answer is that both will occur, as it did in the initial rise in newspaper or TV reporting so many years ago. Just as we complain about bias in the media today, one must not forget that in the 19th century, many (if not most) newspapers had strong ties to (and sometimes fully backed by) one political party or candidate, which only added to the rise of yellow journalism. I mean, have you ever wondered why so many newspapers across the country have names with the word "Democrat" or "Republican" in them? The great thing about misinformation today is that it can be dissected and commented on in a matter of minutes. Look at how blogs played an active role in reporting on the CBS Memogate in '04. Within hours of Dan Rather's initial report, swarms of blogs were already posting the memo images and concluding that they were fakes. Naturally, blogs can also add to the spread of misinformation, but humans are a gossipy creature, so that will happen with or without the blogosphere.

So, with that, I'd like to thank all the participants again, especially 13WHAM for making this possible, and would enjoy the opportunity to do this again real soon!

Massa on Client 9

After a long afternoon away from the office, I just got around to reading Grievous Angel's coverage of today's Massa presser. Frankly, this type of response was Massa's only option given his close association with Spitzer in the last election. Plus after that wonderful ad the two did together started to float around again, continued silence would have only resulted in humorous YouTube remixes of the ad and Massa's association with Spitzer, like this one which was sent to me this morning.

So to combat that, we got lovely images of Massa standing in the cold yesterday "with a tea kettle of hot water" scraping off his Spitzer bumper sticker (what, was Spitzer's campaign so cheap it couldn't afford those easy to remove vinyl ones?). His remarks weren't gaffe free, though. After throwing Spitzer under the bus and praising David Paterson as "a man who listens," he analogized Paterson assuming the governorship "much like Lyndon Baines Johnson was able to get done what JFK couldn't get done." Of course, LBJ became president after JFK's assassination, while Paterson became governor after Spitzer's ejaculation, so I fail to see the connection.

And leave it to Massa to find a way to attack Congressman Kuhl. When asked about an innocuous article which mentioned that Kuhl is a good golfer (for shame!), Massa responded, "If you have enough time [as Congressman] to improve your golf game then there's something wrong." You know, because Heaven forbid that Congressman Kuhl is allowed play a round of golf once in a while. And it's this type of rhetoric which gets Rottenchester to state about St. Eric, "Watching him...I see a sense of honor and commitment that isn't always there in politicians." And I've been accused of being "over the top." Puhlease!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Massa Remains Mum on Client 9

According to Rottenchester, Massa has apparently donated the $2,000.00 he received from Spitzer this year to the Steuben County's Net Domestic Abuse Program. Good for him.

I'm still wondering, though, why Massa's remaining silent about Eliot "John" Spitzer, especially after today's reports that Spitzer has "used hookers for 6 years" and spent "perhaps as much as $80,000" for such services over the years. Congressman Kuhl issued a statement today stating that Spitzer should step down. Most of the major New York papers have called for Spitzer's resignation, along with the local ones. Democrat Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand also called on Spitzer to resign today, as did local Democrat politicians in Ontario County, so why the continued silence, Eric?

UPDATE: Rottenchester has the full press release from Massa today, which I would have gladly posted before, but it wasn't on his campaign website. Regardless, Massa says, "If in fact these accusations are true, I hope the Governor does the right thing." Now, we can try to assume that Massa is suggesting that Spitzer should resign, but unlike Gillibrand and the other Dems I mentioned above, he's not flat out saying that. This comment appears to be ambiguous on purpose. It could mean to some that he's saying that Spitzer should resign, or merely that he should just plead for his family's forgiveness. So Eric, for the record, answer me this, "Yes or no, should Spitzer resign?"

Kuhl on Spitzer

Congressman Kuhl issued the following statement today on the Spitzer scandal. We in the 29th are now waiting for Massa to come around and also call upon Spitzer to resign.
WASHINGTON – March 11 - U.S. Representative John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr. (RC-Hammondsport) issued the following statement today:

"Yesterday was a sad day for the residents of New York State. I like many of you were shocked at these allegations. My thoughts and prayers are with the Spitzer family as they cope with this difficult time.

As the Governor puts the pieces of his life back together it is important that he puts the constituents of New York State ahead of his own political prosperity. Due to the personal, legal, and political ramifications of his alleged activity, I do not believe that it is in the best interest for him to remain as governor of this great state."

NRCC: Will Eric Massa Return Spitzer's Sleazy Money?

The NRCC asks. And we in the district await the answer...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spitzer & Massa: Together Again!

I asked, and you responded. I present to you all, once again, that wonderful Massa/Spitzer ad, entitled "Day One":

NYT: Spitzer Is Linked to Prostitution Ring

The headline says it all. St. Eliot of New York "has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month."

I wonder if Massa will try to secure the good governor's endorsement again this year:

UPDATE: Here's Spitzer's apology. And here's a wonderful album of snapshots featuring the "venerable" Spitzer with his good buddy Eric Massa in Canandaigua. Enjoy!

UPDATE2: If the above video doesn't work, that's because the Massa campaign just took it off YouTube. No worries though, I'm sure people will remember how much Massa embraced Spitzer and vice versa. Btw, does anyone out there have another copy of the video?

UPDATE3: Psst, Eric, if you're going to take down the video, perhaps you should also take down this post from your website mentioning the wonderful Spitzer endorsement, which links to that great ad. Just trying to help!

UPDATE4: Eric, if your webmaster doesn't know which page from your website to take down, it looks like this:

Friday, March 7, 2008



You've officially heard it here first! After weeks of speculation and unsubstantiated rumors flying around, I am at the Monroe County Republican Committee's headquarters in Rochester where Randy Kuhl will be announcing any minute now that he will be seeking a third term in Congress.

Here's the text of Congressman Kuhl's prepared statement, which I obtained just moments ago:

WASHINGTON – March 7, 2008 - U.S. Representative John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr. (R,C-Hammondsport) issued the following statement today regarding his decision to announce his candidacy for the U.S. Congressional seat in the 29th District:

"Today, I stand before you to declare my intent to seek a third term as your representative in the United States Congress. When my constituents voted for me in 2004 and again in 2006 they chose to vote for a lifelong resident of the 29th District, who has the experience and convictions to represent their best interest. They know that I care about securing their jobs, protecting their families, and ensuring that they have a government that doesn't control their lives. They know that I represent them, not a political party or any interest group.

Three-quarters of Americans think that we are on the wrong track. From our faltering economy to the skyrocketing cost of oil, people are worried about keeping their jobs, paying for their healthcare and gasoline, and ensuring that their children grow up in a safe and happy home. Regardless of our political affiliation, we all want similar things. We want to know that when we work hard and follow the rules, we will be successful. We want solutions to our nation's problems, and these issues are not Republican problems or Democratic problems, but American problems.

In the good times and the bad, I have always been there to help my neighbors and fellow Americans. Whether I have helped you avoid the bureaucracy of the many government agencies or listened to you during one of my town meetings, I have maintained my devotion to you. I voted to cut taxes so you can keep more of your hard-earned money. I voted for the economic stimulus package that provides relief to cash-strapped Americans and business. I have voted against wasteful spending and abusive earmarks and demanded accountability and transparency from our government. I voted to bring jobs to the district because at the end of the day, the prosperity of our nation, our state, and our community relies on the ability of our citizens to earn a good income and be confident that their job is secure. But there is still a lot more to do. And there are people who want to raise taxes on your income, healthcare, capitol gains, gasoline, and reinstate the death and marriage tax penalty. There are people who are more concerned with making government larger and more expansive and taking your money to do it.

Two years ago, Democrats took the gavel and things have only gotten worse in Washington. We went from a Republican majority who lost its way to a Democratic majority with misguided priorities. And now, more than ever, we need to fight for the hard working men and women of Western New York. We need to make sure that we cut taxes, cut wasteful spending, and cut partisanship. We need to support our troops in Iraq, but we need to bring our men and women safely home as soon as possible, with the honor and dignity they deserve. We need to create energy policy that lessens our dependence on foreign oil and puts our nation on the way to energy independence immediately. We need to ensure that every man, woman and child has access to affordable healthcare.

My election to Congress provided me the opportunity to solve the problems that face our country. I believe in the American Dream. I believe that if you believe in your dream and you work for your dream, anything is possible. We must ensure that the people of New York have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. I am running for re-election because there are serious issues facing this country and I feel that it is my duty and privilege to work for New Yorkers to ensure that their dreams can be realized. This is not a time for partisanship or political games, but a time for progress, action, and solutions. I am running to ensure that this great community has the best representation."


UPDATE: I just came back from the press conference. One of the questions posed to Congressman Kuhl after he gave his statement was whether he expected a primary challenge. At the podium, he was flanked by Maggie Brooks (Monroe County Exec, who was rumored to be a candidate, but gave an absolutely wonderful introduction for Kuhl), Steve Minarik (MonroeGOP chairman), Jay Dutcher (OntarioGOP chairman), and Jack Clancy (YatesGOP chairman). As Congressman Kuhl was about to answer the question, Minarik assured everyone in the room with just one word, "No!" Congressman Kuhl followed suit and said that it was extremely unlikely, given all the support he has from the county committees, and stated that the remaining GOP committee chairmen from the Southern Tier will be joining him in Corning later today.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

OntarioGOP Exclusive

Check out my blog tomorrow morning for a web exclusive. Developing...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

13WHAM: Sources Say Kuhl's Running

I've been hoping. I've been praying. And Evan Dawson's colleague, Sean Carroll, is reporting on WHAM's blog that "at least four Republican sources" told him that Congressman Kuhl will announce his re-election bid on Friday. I hope they're right, but since Sean doesn't name any of his sources, I have no idea if they're reliable, so I guess we'll still have to wait until Friday to find out officially (I'm not knocking Sean's reporting here, I'm sure his sources are trustworthy, I guess I don't want to launch into premature celebration, so I'll remain cautiously optimistic for the next two days).

As for Sean's suggestion that there might be a GOP primary if Kuhl's running again, I highly doubt it. Granted, anything in politics is possible, but it's a bit too late in the season to challenge an incumbent congressman, especially when Republicans have to rally behind a candidate very early on in this swing district. The Republicans in Ontario County are all behind Congressman Kuhl, and frankly, to have a shot at winning in November, the victor must win, well, Victor and other swing townships in the second largest and fastest growing county in the district!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Blogversation II: How is the Media Evolving?

Rottenchester has a good roundup of our blogversation here, along with his response to the latest question Evan has posed to us: "Where do you guys see the traditional media (and more specifically, the traditional local media) evolving? And perhaps more importantly, where is the traditional media currently failing in its coverage, style, or presentation?"

One does not need to perform an endless Google search on the subject to discover that national newspaper circulation and network evening news viewership are dwindling to the point that these news sources can be classified as endangered species, while nontraditional media, be it online, radio, or cable nets, are all on the rise. Here's a great article by George Will from 2005 on the subject, where he concludes:
The future of the big media that the young have abandoned is not certain. But do you remember when an automobile manufacturer, desperately seeking young customers, plaintively promised that its cars were "not your father's Oldsmobile"? Do you remember Oldsmobiles?
When it comes to the national MSM, there's no question that the drop in its consumers will continue at a fast pace. With internet users continually on the rise, why would people continue to pay for stale national/global news and a handful of opinion columns in the New York Times when they merely need to type in a few words on Google to find a plethora of news items and thousands of political commentators offering their unique insights on the day's events? Plus, if they still want to read the Times, they can merely visit its website and keep their hands ink-stained free. And why would people want to continue to wait for the NBC Nightly News just to see the same news reported throughout the day on the cable nets and online?

However, when it comes to local news, the situation is much different. Rottenchester is right that there is a rise in alternative media in the area (our blogs included), but certainly not at the level of national media sources. For example, throughout the day, I mostly follow national news online through nontraditional sources (e.g., Drudge Report, RealClearPolitics, various blogs, and then later in the day, Rush Limbaugh's website as I can't listen to his program at work usually), but for my local news, I'll go to the D&C's and Daily Messenger's websites (though I'm sure most people in the area get the paper edition) and watch the local news at night. I also read Fighting 29th and Rochesterturning daily, but more to see what they're saying about the local stories rather than as my source for local news.

So while I see national traditional media dying out, on the local level, Evan Dawson is safe with his day job for now.

As for ways in which the local media can improve, it's hard to say. Most of the major newspapers and networks have decent websites, and have been adding blogs to their online news coverage, WHAM especially. But some have committed a few unfortunate errors in their pursuits to move into the online community. The D&C's RocPets website comes to mind (I mean, really, did they have to create another forum for people to post mindless pictures of their pets?).

Monday, March 3, 2008

Blogversation I: Do I Consider Myself a Journalist?

As you will see from Rottenchester's latest post, 13WHAM's Evan Dawson has asked local bloggers to participate in a "blogversation," and the first topic we will cover is answering the following question: "Do you consider yourselves journalists?"

I decided to consult my copy of The American Heritage College Dictionary (Third Edition) to get a definition for the word "journalist," which is defined as follows: 1. One whose occupation is journalism. 2. One who keeps a journal. In trying to determine my status as a "journalist," my first concern was determining whether my writing this blog is my "occupation," given my assumption that Evan wasn't asking whether we consider our blogs a type of diary. So I looked up the word "occupation," and found this definition: 1.a. An activity that is one's regular source of livelihood; a vocation. b. An activity engaged in esp. as a pastime; an avocation. Clearly my blogging does not fall under the first part of the definition, i.e., I have a day job that actually makes me money and has nothing to do with my blog, but my blogging certainly falls under the second part in that a synonym for "avocation" is "hobby."

Now that I've proved that I can be "occupied" as a journalist, I now need to determine whether my writings on this blog can be considered "journalism," which is defined as follows: 1. The collecting, writing, editing, and presentation of news or news articles. 2. Material written for publication in a newspaper or magazine or for broadcast. 3. The style of writing characteristic of newspapers and magazines, marked by the direct presentation of facts. 4. Newspapers and magazines. 5. An academic course in journalism. 6. Written material of current interest or popular appeal. While it's debatable whether what I engage in here falls under the first three definitions (which is what most people think of when they hear the word "journalism"), and it's clear that it does not fall under the fourth and fifth definitions, there is no question that my blog posts fall under the last, looser definition. Therefore, because my blogger status falls under the definition of "journalist," and unlike some occupations, e.g., doctors or lawyers, one does not necessarily need to attend a special school or hold a license to call oneself a "journalist," then I would answer the above question in the affirmative.

UPDATE: In my haste to reply to Evan's initial question, I forgot to answer a followup question he had posed on whether I was impressed with the liberal Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo for winning this year's George Polk Award for Legal Reporting, the first time that a blogger has won this prestigious award. The conservative in me is not a fan of the award's advisory panel consistently honoring liberal journalists, but the blogger in me is proud to see a fellow blogger, regardless of his ideology, win such an award, so kudos to Mr. Marshall.