This Scott Murphy ad says Chris Gibson supports "Jobs for China, not Upstate New York", which made me think of last year's line of attack by Jim Tedisco, when Tedisco kept denouncing Murphy for his investments as a businessman in India. It also reminded me of what was obvious from last year's campaign: The Democratic and Republican congressional campaign committees devote all their ample resources to negative ads which compete with each other in stupid, mendacious sleaze.
As said in this post by the pithy Kristi Gustafson (another TU employee I don't recall meeting who has become my Facebook friend): "These political commercials kill me. AW-ful."
That is to say, the Times Union has significantly shrunk the page size of the color section, which also means the size of the panels is smaller and the print is harder to read. This presumably saves money on newsprint, as did eliminating the TV weekly earlier this year. Downsizing staff saves money too, as does playing hardball with The Newspaper Guild, but all of this tends to give subscribers less for their money, which is not going to help stop the bleeding in circulation.
Two packages correctly addressed to my daughter's Army base in Kandahar were returned to the senders in recent weeks, one with a mark more or less over the "attempted not known" and "no such number/street" boxes. This appears to be an Army snafu rather than the Post Office problems I referenced before (and to be fair, my wife has found a very helpful Post Office branch in Queensbury, NY).
This yet again raises the issue of soldiers being unable to vote, which came up last year in the Scott Murphy-Jim Tedisco vote and in another upstate congressional race. My daughter, who is on her second deployment to Afghanistan and also has served in Italy, writes:
"I actually wrote an email to [Rep.] Scott Murphy about the mail issue -- specifically that this is my third November serving overseas, and I have not once got my ballot in time to make my vote count. ... I got a form email in response. ... I forgot to update my address in time for my primary ballot, but I have submitted a request for an absentee ballot for the general. I doubt it will get to me in time. In Italy, my ballots never got to me in time, though they were always requested. One day I got my ballot on the day it was supposed to be mailed back, which was frustrating."
Update: My daughter's husband also is serving in Kandahar, and she says he "got a package last month from his last tour in Afghanistan. The one where he left the country in July 2008. Did I mention that mail sucks here?"
John Egan, who started work for the state more than 60 years ago shoveling coal into a boiler at Dannemora state prison, was a major player in building Empire State Plaza and in the state's bureaucratic power structure for many decades, is retiring. This is not at all the occasion for some tedious denunciation of the Albany establishment, but a time to acknowledge that Egan seems to have been an exemplary public servant, and was always gracious to any humble reporter who happened to cross his path.
Chin-stroking pundits are always saying how the attorney general is not the state's chief law enforcement officer, and mostly defends state government or is involved with consumer affairs, maybe does a few Wall Street or public corruption cases, but is not focused on street crime. Still, for the citizens of Albany and the Capital Region, Andrew Cuomo's garishly titled "Operation Blood Trail" looks like a good use of government resources. Street crime is an urgent problem in most upstate cities, and give Cuomo credit for going after it. Would Eric Schneiderman do that?
According to a memo today from John King, the state's senior deputy commissioner of education, the Board of Regents is going ahead with its decision "to eliminate the Second Language Proficiency Examinations (SLP), the Regents Comprehensive Examinations in German, Hebrew, and Latin, and the Grades 5 and 8 Social Studies Tests" -- as foreshadowed here.
Despite billions of stimulus and "Race to the Top" dollars approved for the New York school system by the federal government in the past couple of months, not to mention a few-decade average of state aid to education going up by two or three times the rate of inflation, the Regents are abandoning tests and undercutting standards that federal and state reforms were meant to uphold.
The problem with federal and state spending is not so much that it's excessive and underfunded, but misdirected. If Chris Gibson aims to defeat Rep. Scott Murphy, he needs to find the wit to point that out.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is not happy about the defeat of Sen. Bill Stachowski by Tim Kennedy in a Democratic primary. I implied last week that Stachowski is pro-choice, which was inaccurate. He is apparently pro-life, as are Kennedy and Republican candidate Jack Quinn.
The Siena poll showing Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy with a 17-point lead over Chris Gibson is obviously bad news for the challenger in what is still a heavily Republican district, no matter how much the pro-Gibson TU commenters whine about how Siena got the Paladino-Lazio race wrong. (Actually Siena did show Paladino surging, which he continued to do right up to the voting.) Also bad news for Gibson is that on key issues, i.e. health-care reform, the Bush tax cuts and infrastructure spending, voters favor the Democratic position over the Republican.
Gibson should not make Jim Tedisco's mistake of hewing to all national Republican policies, buying the Wall Street Journal editorial line that it's somehow a big vote-winner to insist on preserving tax cuts for those making $250,000 per year and above, or that it's a bad idea to expand health insurance and replace rotting bridges. But unlike Tedisco, whose negative ads sounded harsh and unconvincing when Murphy was a political neophyte last year, Gibson does have something to run against -- and a way to tie Murphy's votes to the highly unpopular New York state government.
Gibson did urge Murphy to vote against this $26 billion bailout for the states, and since then the feds sent another $700 million in "Race to the Top" funding to be dished out by New York's multitudinous education bureaucrats. By spending this money, Murphy and Congress undercut some of the hard budget-cutting work done at the state level this year by Democratic Gov. David Paterson. And, Gibson could argue, they did more to bail out public-sector unions (which his ads could call "special interests") than boost the economy, and put the federal government, in track with the state, further along the road of reckless spending and unsustainable debt.
Nor should Gibson abandon social conservatives -- a key part of his base that he needs to turn out. Murphy's worst vote was against the Stupak amendment to the health-care bill, which could help unite social and fiscal conservatives against him.
Mike Long, longtime leader of the state Conservative Party, says he and his guys are doubling down on defeat and sticking with Rick Lazio, after Lazio's shellacking by Carl Paladino in Tuesday's Republican primary. It's hard to see the point of a Conservative Party that would reject a major party nominee on the grounds that he's too conservative.