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Hit piece *** UPDATED x2 ***

Friday, May 23, 2008

* I don’t completely buy into this logic

A political campaign stunt meant to draw attention to the nation’s high oil prices backfired Thursday when hundreds of motorists seeking cheap gas caused a massive traffic jam in north suburban Lincolnshire before most were turned away.

I wasn’t there, of course, but if people did line up for a mile and a half as reported, then Dan Seals’ stunt wildly succeeded in getting his message across.

* Even so, the Tribune focused almost solely on the negative…

Come they did, causing a lunchtime traffic nightmare that left Lincolnshire Police Chief Randy Melvin fuming. He had almost half of his 25-officer staff directing traffic, which nearly came to a standstill.

When was the last time that a congressional candidate in Illinois got that kind of response? Yet, the Tribune claims it was a “nightmare.”

* And…

“This was a very disappointing experience, and we will remember it come election time,” businessman Rick Hirschhaut complained in an e-mail. “Mr. Seals just demonstrated that he is a typical politician. What he says and what he does are not the same thing—just a lot of over-promising.”

A quick Google search would have shown the Tribune that Hirschaut and Kirk have a relationship, leading me to believe that the reporting was way out of whack.

Plus, Hirschaut apparently wasn’t even at the event. Why no harsh interviews from motorists waiting in line? I’d find that more believable.

* Only about 50 motorists got their discounts, which is the biggest downside to the stunt. This angle, however, is probably just a distraction

North Shore Congressional candidate Dan Seals was offering gas for $1.85 at a station in Lincolnshire and making up the difference himself, but opponent Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) says the stunt amounts to vote buying.

* So, when Kirk hands out food, drinks, balloons, buttons and other tschotkes he’s buying votes as well? Please. As Larry notes with tongue firmly planted in cheek…

I’ll be heading out of country to avoid the inevitable prosecution from Patrick Fitzgerald regarding the vast amounts of beer I have [drunk] over the years paid for by campaigns.

* And Rob points out this factoid…

Republican Luke Puckett, also a challenger just like Dan Seals, pumped free gas a month ago in South Bend while bending drivers’ ears about his plans to drill for oil in pristine natural areas of California and Alaska

* From that Indiana story

Luke Puckett gave away 250 gallons of gas in 30 minutes at the Marathon station on East Ironwood. He said he was giving away free gas to draw more attention to the oil problem and the need for change.

Most people would do just about anything for five free gallons of gas right now, so waiting in a line that stretched around the building wasn’t a big deal.

Notice the vastly different spin from the news provider. Compare that to the Tribune…

Only about 50 motorists who waited in a 1.5-mile line of cars for more than an hour actually made it to the pumps at a Marathon station at Milwaukee Avenue and Half Day Road, where for one hour Democratic congressional candidate Dan Seals offered motorists the chance to buy as many as 10 gallons of gas for $1.85 per gallon.

Some motorists may have been upset about not getting the freebie, but I doubt that missing out will cause them to vote against the only candidate who tried to give them a break. I didn’t see a single negative quote from motorists in any of the news stories posted online.

* There was obviously a huge pushback from Kirk’s office. The Daily Herald’s story was originally entitled “Political gas giveaway works,” but was then changed to “Political gas giveaway jams traffic, raises questions.”

*** UPDATE *** Now, this is a reasonable GOP response. From the state Republican party…

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna today called on Tenth Congressional District Democrat Candidate Dan Seals to reimburse local police departments for the cost of providing traffic management to deal with a campaign stunt that backfired.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Rob got an e-mail from the Seals campaign…

Feel free to let folks know we are picking up the cost. We’ve already been in touch with the dept today to get the final amount and we talked to them in advance of the event regarding the cost as well.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - GoBearsss - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:00 am:

    Trib used to be a quality newspaper. Before that, it was a Republican rag.

    Looks like they prefer the rag.

  2. - adam smith - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:11 am:

    The issue is whether this kind of thing helps a campaign. Did it get attention? Yes. Did it help Seals? Probably not. The 10th district is not one that goes in for stunts. From the five campaigns Kirk has run, the voters know that he works hard, avoids negative campaigning and never resorts to publicity stunts. He may not be perfect (like so many pols who are) but he arguably fits his district as well as anyone in Congress. Seals knows his resume (which is thinner than a supermodel) can’t stack up to Kirk’s, so he has to resort to this kind of stuff.

  3. - Anonymous Unum - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:11 am:

    OK, let me get this straight…..Dan Seals offers gas at a discount to highlight the lack of effort his opponent has put into the issue, has a mile and a half back up and press galore, and it’s a folly? There is no such thing as bad press six months away from an election. Kirk looks petty and the Trib looks worse in my opinion. Ponder this: what was the price per barrel the same month we invaded Iraq (to get oil, no less)? Try $23.00 a barrel. What is it now? $132 a barrel.

  4. - 10th Indy - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:19 am:

    “the only candidate who tried to give them a break”

    Just last week people on this very blog were praising Kirk’s Commuter Act - That’s a break that might help a lot more than 50 people.

  5. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:21 am:

    10th, good point. Kirk should’ve mentioned it.

  6. - VanillaMan - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:21 am:

    Gas prices have doubled since the Democrats have taken control of Congress. So, it is weird that any Democratic congressional candidate would welcome a debate on gas prices since their take-over. Seals seems to forget that.

    The stunt was his gamble. If it worked, he won - and as is normal - there was positive reporting for him, (not much), and negative, (a lot more). However, he is an adult and running for office and is responsible for the news coverage his PR stunts generate.

    To blame newspapers for the stories they write due to his stunt isn’t taking responsibility for the gamble he took. If he wants us to believe that he is suitable as a congressman, he needs to show an ability to take responsibility for the results his campaign has generated; pro and con.

    As a result of his intentions and the results he got, I’d say his stunt was a wash. He selected the wrong issue to jump Kirk on, and he needed to have controlled the situation better.

    Whoever thought fingerpointing at the minority party in Congress as the culprit for doubling gas prices isn’t a clear-cut position to take.

  7. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:23 am:

    Channel 2 News Chicago reported that around $1,100 was spent in gasoline by the Seals campaign for this stunt for 49 vehicles, or a little over $20.00 each.

    Buying a vote for $20.00?

    When I ran the last Geo-Karis campaign, our little pens and knick-knacks were given away at fund raisers and Republican events only. Not train stations. Not in front of post offices, etc. Maybe it is just me but I felt with the tightening of various ethics laws and election statues that giving away little goodies (i.e. gifts) was inappropriate outside of fundraisers or political events. Senator Geo-Karis supported my position even though in earlier campaigns she would happily give away such knick knacks at train stations, etc.

    Was the stunt a success in calling attention to Dan Seals and his campaign? From the amount of publicity he received, yes. Was the action of paying for gasoline to the tune of roughly $20.00 per vehicle breaking a law in that “it bought a vote” or tried to buy a vote?

    The charges and trial of the Rezko case may be somewhat instructive here. The Feds argued that each attempt to scam pension funds or sell jobs need not be successful or completed to fruition or make someone some ill-gotten money or job to be illegal. In the eyes of the Feds, the attempted acts are also criminal, whether they were all successful or not.

    Whether Seals successful bought a vote or a 100 or so or not a single one from this stunt is one thing. Whether he acted or attempted to buy votes in such a fashion may be another.

  8. - Squideshi - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:34 am:

    Gas prices wouldn’t be such a big deal if we had convenient, efficient, and affordable alternative means of transportation, such as high-speed and light rail systems here in Illinois. We’re putting all of our transportation eggs into one automobile basket, and considering the lack of real regional planning in Illinois, traffic jams are inevitable.

  9. - Legal Eagle - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:34 am:

    I don’t get Seals’ point. What is he saying? “Elect me and your gas prices will miraculously come down”?
    If Seals actually lived in the District he wouldn’t have to use so much gas to drive to events there ! This is the kind of campaign stunt that just turns me off on the state of our politics today.

  10. - Anonymous Unum - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:34 am:

    If gas hits $5.00 a gallon, anyone who fills up my tank gets my vote! My vote can’t be bought, but it can be rented.

  11. - Truthful James - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:35 am:

    Interestingly there is an issue facing every incumbent. What did you do during this session to assure the United States a continuing and future increased supply of oil? of energy?

    This a do nothing Congress a Truman would like to run against.

  12. - scoot - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:36 am:

    A Seals staffer was handing out bumperstickers to those waiting in line for the cheap gas, so he was buying votes.

    If Congressman Kirk did this yesterday democrats would going crazy…

  13. - Anonymous Unum - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:37 am:

    ==Gas prices have doubled since the Democrats have taken control of Congress.==

    Maybe I am missing something, but what does Congress, or which party controls it, have to do with the price of gasoline? I thought it had more to do with the oil companies making $40 BILLION a QUARTER in profits. Can someone explain please?

  14. - Anonymous - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:39 am:

    People who think Seals was “buying votes” are just being silly and Kirk should know better than to tie up the offices of the freaking US Attorney and others with this silliness. Give me a break. That dog won’t hunt and the Kirk-o-philes should move onto something more produstive.

  15. - montrose - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:39 am:

    “Ponder this: what was the price per barrel the same month we invaded Iraq (to get oil, no less)? Try $23.00 a barrel. What is it now? $132 a barrel.”

    “Gas prices have doubled since the Democrats have taken control of Congress.”

    Aren’t subjective timelines wonderful?

  16. - Ghost - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:45 am:

    VM the democratic congress tried to pass legislation which would allow anti-trust laws to come into play against opec. This would be a hugely usefull tool, end OPEC rice fixing!!! But they were blocked by the Republicans and the Republican presidents veto.

    Moral of the Story, we would have a lot lower gas prices without the republicans.

  17. - Anonymous - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:46 am:

    I think the Seals event accomplished one thing, based on the froth-at-the-mouth responses by Congresscritter Kirk and his staff (and now the lame Republican Party Chair Andy McKenna): the Republicans are crapping their pants over Seals and with Obama at the top of the ticket, they ought to be. Kirk is toast and they know it.

  18. - Greg - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:47 am:

    Montrose, yeah, it’s ridiculous. Must be weird for full-time political types, having to come up with a political reason for everything on Earth.

    Unum, you’ve got your cause and effect switched. The oil companies are long a ton of oil. Asset values quadruple = profit rises. Profit margins aren’t increasing. Like I said yesterday, xom wouldn’t be unched year to date if they were.

  19. - Greg - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:49 am:

    Ghost, good luck with taking down OPEC. Probably would be as effective as eliminating our sugar supports. Anyways, OPEC production is pretty close to the limit right now, albeit their capacities and reserves are totally unverifiable.

  20. - Rob_N - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:52 am:

    Kirk and the media sittin’ in a tree….


    Scoot, get real. Giving out a bumper sticker is not “buying a vote”. If it were all those cars with Kirk bumper stickers would be evidence for US Atty Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of Mark Kirk.

    I like Kirk — he’s a decent guy — but his supporters seem to be getting more and more over the top with their spin railing against Dan Seals for no reason other than he’s had the audacity to run against Kirk…

    Can’t you guys stick to the issues — like why gas is where it’s at, what we can realistically do about, etc.?

    Kirk has some good ideas on that topic that I’d support, but instead of promoting his ideas and working to get them enacted in legislation, he runs to the US Atty’s office to waste their time and has his campaigners call up the local papers to complain because they’re reporting facts.

  21. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:52 am:

    ===When I ran the last Geo-Karis campaign, our little pens and knick-knacks were given away at fund raisers and Republican events only.===

    So, Geo never gave out anything at parades? C’mon.

  22. - wordslinger - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:55 am:

    Kirk did miss a trick regarding the commuter act. He’s got to be kicking himself this morning.

    The Trib assumed motorists were mad and they’re probably right. But guessing is not reporting.

    The silly season is here. I don’t have a lot of respect for the underlying premise of the stunt. If any congressman, or Congress, could do anything in the short term about the price of gas they would have done it by now.

    This didn’t even work: Last week, the President of the United States of America held hands, kissed and whispered sweet-nothings with the King of Saudia Arabia to get him to boost oil production, but to no avail. Got to give the king credit — he may be a Bedouin, but he’s no tramp.

    What a galling, embarrassing spectacle that was. Can you imagine Reagan doing such a thing?

    I want assurances from both Obama and McCain: If elected, they promise not to canoodle in public with medieval despots. What they do behind closed doors is their own business.

  23. - Plutocrat03 - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:58 am:

    So what does Seals propose we do about gas prices other than ask him for a handout?

    Was there any vote Kirk should have been on the other side which would have changed the price rises?

    Political stunt, OK, but where’s the beef?

  24. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 10:59 am:

    ===When I ran the last Geo-Karis campaign, our little pens and knick-knacks were given away at fund raisers and Republican events only.===

    So, Geo never gave out anything at parades? C’mon.

    The last campaign again - - nothing. Believe it. Not even candy.

  25. - Rob_N - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:01 am:


    OPEC needs competition from alternative fuels. Simple as that.

    (To wit, Saudi Arabia is either significantly holding back in order to purposefully increase the royal family’s concentration of wealth or they are actually beginning to run out of oil. They’ve offered to increase output by a few hundred thousand barrels of oil. The US goes through that much oil in a few weeks.)

    At some point, we can either tap every oil deposit within reach — destroying much of God’s Creation in the process — or we can face cold hard facts and come up with alternative energy sources, perhaps even some that don’t dump toxic garbage in our air.

    Where were all the Republicans who are blaming Dems for gas prices two years ago? Or four years ago? Or 8 years ago?

    This problem has been building for much longer than just the last 18 months.

    Instead of complaining about it after the fact, maybe they should’ve tried doing something practical about it when they had the House, Senate and Oval Office.

    Then again, we have two oil men in charge at the White House so who are the GOP partisans kidding anyway?

  26. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:01 am:

    Louis, I’m not just referring to her last campaign. I mean any campaign. Your logic is a non-starter.

  27. - Captain America - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:02 am:

    I agree that gas prices have more than doubled, but the real culprits are Bush-Cheney rather than a Democratic Congress. How much instability have they created with their splendid little regime change project run amuck in Iraq? Of course, I know there are other factors contributing to the rise in the price of a barrel of oil. But the chaos Bush-Cheney have created with their foreign policy fiasco in Iraq, as well as their threats of involuntary regime change in Iran, are significant contributory factors.

  28. - walter sobchak - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:07 am:

    As publicity it generated publicity. Whether positive or negative was probably not as much the point as just getting his name on air. As a promotion it was disastrous. You have to multiply all of the people who waited in line and didn’t get gas, all of the people who were turned away, all of the people who were inconvenienced by the traffic in terms of negative word of mouth. Multiply that negativity times all of their friends and family members minus the few who saved a couple of bucks and then evaluate the outcome.

  29. - Truthful James - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:07 am:

    Logic still does not fit.

    Iraq is pumping now more than before. Prices of oil continue to rise. In America there is a bottleneck at he refinery. They go down from time to time and they are running at clsoe to capacity.

    And BTW we did not go into Iraq for the oil. If we had we would have taken their oil fields as spoils of war.

  30. - Rob_N - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:15 am:

    Rich, you’re too generous — what logic?

    James, The refinery bottleneck is a direct result of a lack of investment and upgrades on the part of oil companies. It’s more profitable for them to run at or near capacity and ignore the inevitable breakdowns, etc.

    It’s their bottom lines they are protecting, not ours.

    As for Iraq and oil… we are taking the oil fields as spoils of war (or at least US corporations are).

    Look up the incredibly sweet deal Big Oil cos. got with regards to Iraqi oil — exclusive rights, huge margins, etc.

  31. - Truthful James - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:26 am:


    I do read quite frequently. Firstm these are not US oil companies per se, but internationals.

    Suggest you go to

    and look at the unbiased reports from Iraq instead of the Daily Kos or even the NYT.

    The above URL will keep you up to date.

    Second, refinery construction in the US has been an environmental quagmire starting with siting. It is not in the interest of any competitive company to restrict supply, if supply is available from elsewhere to substitute. However, investments take up quite a bit of capital, which comes from…where, Rob?

  32. - kdruben - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:27 am:

    #1 - I still have my “I am a fan of Geo” from when she ran for office when people did not even look at Democrats in Lake County. She clearly gave out a ton of stuff… every politician gave out something… a sticker, fan, nail file, etc.

    #2 - I work in Lincolnshire and visit that Marathon Station often. The police were a bit bombarded by all of the traffic, but what better way to draw attention to your campaign than that. The only thing that I would have done differently would be to say something like “for the first hundred cars” and then cut them off at that.

    #3 - Though Chairman McKenna called on Seals to reimburse the police department, that had already been agreed to according to the Daily Herald from today. Why would he not do that? He realizes that he caused a huge problem with traffic in making his campaign big news.

    #4 - I am not one to believe that Dan Seals, with the backing of the Democratic party, did not check out the legality of this whole thing before it occurred. Come on, this is modern politics where lawyers are on speed dial.

    The real issue here is that Mark Kirk has been a part of the Republican Party that has repeatedly allowed for tax breaks for big oil companies and again allowed oil companies to gouge the consumer. Kudos to Dan Seals for this great idea.

  33. - Mark Johnson - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:28 am:

    Here’s your explanation (You Tube link below) on why the Democrats are being targeted for higher gas prices. They chose to run on the issue in 2006…..

    “Democrats have a plan to lower gas prices”

    “Democrats have real solutions that will lower the prioce at the pump”

    Two years. NO plan. They chose to make this their message to try and take back a majority in Congress. Why shouldnt they be held accountable?

  34. - VanillaMan - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:33 am:

    What is the percentage of profit for oil companies? Not the amount claimed, the percentage? Most publically regulated industries are allowed a 7% profit. What would happen if oil companies were allowed the same as other governmentally regulated companies?

    Nothing. Because profits are already less than 7%. Finger pointers deny this truth. Instead they focus on the amount, not whether the amount reflects a fair share. Right now it isn’t fair - to the oil companies, not us.

    Government taxes are a higher percentage of gas pump prices than corporate profits. Only a fraction of those taxes go towards road infrastructure, while the majority of it goes to government spending for other programs.

    If you think corporations are greedy, then you should be triple horrified at the greed governments are displaying. It is disingenuous for politicians to demand more government programs, and also claim that gas prices are too high.

    What if your entire government budget would crash if voters demanded that taxes are suspended or put in-line with other tax rates? What would your position be as a congressman if you knew that your entire domestic social policy structure would crash if gas taxes that paid for them would be reformed to assist Americans?

    You would finger point at oil companies. You would claim that conspiracies are afoot. You would present emotional solutions to cold hard economic facts. And you would be dead wrong, wouldn’t you?

    So we watch Congress pretend. Sue OPEC? That is utter nonsense. Drag oil companies before Congress and treat them like criminals? Done. Demand the entire Green Political Agenda? Being done. Demand 100 mpg supercars? Done - and forgotten.

    So Seal’s stunt was silly. How he reacts to the responsibilities of his silly stunt will attest to his maturity and if his maturity measures up to what voter’s expect of their congresspeople.

  35. - Greg - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:35 am:

    Oh my gosh, can we stop with the partisan gas blame? That debate occupies approximately 0% of oil analysts’ research. If you want blame, then we should all look in the mirror. But apportioning blame is not going to do bring down the cost of oil.

  36. - Anonymous - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:39 am:

    VM: Seals’ stunt was far more effective than it was silly. First off, it worked. Secondly, Kirk and his bloviators were left with petty calls to US Attorneys offices and the Illinois AG and the laughable “pay for the policeman’s time”. Give me a break!

  37. - Anonymous - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:46 am:

    Mark Johnson and VM- you guys are right that Seals’ stunt seems a little misplaced… it made more sense in say, 2006, when the Republicans controlled Congress.

    Seals went back to the 2006 Dem playbook for this stunt, which was certainly not an original idea, and was widely disseminated as a great ploy last cycle. Back in 2006, the in-control Republicans were an easy target to blame for high gas prices, which back then were around $2.20 to $2.40 a gallon (seems like the good ‘ole days). Even then, however, the Dems warned their candidates that tried this gambit that it could backfire, if the Dems took over Congress and gas prices didn’t drop. As noted at the time, the obvious problem “is a long-term one, the fact that there really is no “magic bullet” to make prices come down at the pump, so voters might be disappointed if Congress goes Democratic and gas prices stay high.”

    See the Huffington Post article at

  38. - Wumpus - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:48 am:

    Wow, I learned how to spell tschotkes.

    Kirk should highlight all the polution Seals caused by having cars idling in his traffic jam.

  39. - Team America, World Police - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:49 am:

    Anon 11:46 was me, Team America. My computer just had some work done and didn’t past in my call sign automatically. Sorry. Didn’t want anyone to think I wasn’t standing behind that post, which is what I basically said on my Blog (and which has thrown Archpundit and Rob N. into an absolute tizzy).

  40. - Captain America - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:52 am:

    Political analyst Charlie Cook has concluded that voters are still in a punnishing mood vis-a-vis Republicans. I think Mark Kirk is in really big trouble and a likely casualty of a November Obama landslide in Illinois.

    Even if he loses, Kirk might be a credible Republican Gubernatorial nominee in 2010. I wouldn’t vote for him for Governor unless Blago was his opopnent, but I would vote for him for Cook County Board President, especially if he was running against Todd Stroger.

  41. - Lake Co. - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 11:56 am:

    “The last campaign again - - nothing. Believe it. Not even candy.”

    Remember, the last Geo campaign saw the most beloved candidate in the county get sunk by by a makeup-and-hair-horror-show-hack who managed to lose to the Democrat in a 60-40 Republican district.

    Maybe the last Geo campaign wasn’t the best run campaign on the books, Louis.

  42. - Ela Observer - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 12:07 pm:

    Everything else being equal, one wouldn’t ordinarily expect to see this amount of interest in an election challenge to any 4-term congressman from a moderate suburban district.

  43. - VanillaMan - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 12:15 pm:

    Yes. I believe that Obama on the ballot threatens Republicans in Illinois.

    There are lots of proof that this is true.

    On the other hand, Gore lost his home state in 2000. While that is a rare situation, and highly unlikely in Illinois, these things could happen over the next five months.

  44. - Rob_N - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 12:17 pm:


    Actually, there are several variants of “tchotchke”. Keep it in mind for Wheel of Fortune and Scrabble.

    Team Am,

    Your self-inflated ego is matched only by your capacity for bizarre spin.

    Again, how is pointing out the many facts which debunk your silliness a “tizzy”?

    TA, the shear volume of your posts on the topic ripping into Seals and carrying gas cans for Kirk is exponentially more than my comments popping your hot air balloons.

  45. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 12:24 pm:

    OK, everyone including Rich indulge me for a second while I vent my frustration: AAARRRRRGGGGHHH!

    Now that I got that out of my system, I attended a seminar yesterday and one topic discussed included the fact that people do NOT digest all the facts that are given to them. This thread (as it pertains to my initial 10:23 posting) proves the point of the moderator.

    So to repeat my point a little differently so that it is more understandable: (1) Geo-Karis during her many campaigns EXCEPT THE LAST ONE gave away a ton of goodies. No question about it. She didn’t fill any gas tanks but I have a personal collection of knick knacks collected over the years. (2) At the start of the LAST campaign it was decided that such goodies could be construed as “gifts” and we elected not to give anything out at public functions, only at Geo-Karis fundraisers or Republican events. Our concerns were stated in that posting above. You will recall that we anticipated a super-white hot and bitter primary and wanted to be above board on everything we did so as to not hand the opposition any ammunition. And it was a super-white hot and bitter primary.

    So the last campaign truly NOTHING was given out to the public save for a few pens at Geo-Karis fundraisers and at a few selected Republican events.

    And the moderator was right. Venting works!

  46. - Team America, World Police - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 12:25 pm:

    Rob- I do a 10th District-focused Blog, what do you expect? Of course I talk mostly about Kirk and Seals. We to take the occasional time-out to mention Terry Link and his petition scandals.

    But, if you feel the need to counter everything I say on my Blog over at yours, or here at Cap Fax Blog, please try to keep your responses centered on the facts, and avoid ad-homenium attacks like you and Archpundit seem to like to do.

  47. - RAI - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 12:27 pm:

    Seals is a hypocrite and so are all of you Democrats who are trying to place blame on the GOP and Bush for the price of gas. 6 years ago and every year for the last 10 years of GOP rule the bill to allow drilling and exploration in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, etc.. (There I will blame Gov Bush as well as the Democrats in congress)passed overwhelmingly by the house and killed in the Senate. Will Seals vote to go back to three? NO! Did he give any answer to how to bring prices down? NO!
    I worked for one of the GOP Gov campaigns in 06 and we went to the U of I Scientists and asked what it would take to build more refineries in Illinois (we were looking to put these into coal mining areas that have been hit hard by the congresses anti coal fight) I was told Quote “It would be easier to build an asbestos factory than to build a refinery” because of Gov Regulations
    Someone above wrote “there is nothing the congress can do or it would have been done already” In 2002 we went to 26 different fuel blends from just 3. We did not increase refinery capacity, prices began their upward turn. Congress tomorrow could announce that we are going back to 3 blends until prices stabilize and build 10 refineries in the next few years prices would drop overnight.

    If you Democrats still can’t see why it is your party that is to blame just look to your champion, Senator Obama who said two days ago “‘We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times… and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK’… Other countries to say ok??? This is where the leadership of the Democratic party wants the country. For years we have been chastised by them because we want to drive SUV’s and have cheep gas. Obama didn’t say the above in anger but matter of factly, the greens who are a huge part of the Democratic base do not want prices to go down, they don’t want us to keep expanding our economy and use more energy every year.

  48. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 12:31 pm:

    “Maybe the last Geo campaign wasn’t the best run campaign on the books, Louis.”

    Never said it was. We lost.

  49. - Rob_N - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 12:58 pm:


    The problem with your directive is that you consider facts to be “personal attacks” when you don’t like them…

    If you feel a need to continue this conversation please create a post on your blog, or add another comment to my post on the topic at Illinois Reason.

    Let’s not continue OT on Rich’s blog.


    At some point, whether we all (Repubs and Demos alike) want it or not, oil will run out — even in pristine natural environments and even off the coast of Jeb Bush’s homestate…

    Should we be working on solving that problem now? Especially considering the real culprit behind higher prices is supply and demand (not regulations) with China and India and other emerging nations consuming more and more oil….

    Let’s put a real plan in place, not band-aids.

  50. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 1:00 pm:

    Friday’s are always slow around here. Feel free to continue the fight here. lol

  51. - Truthful James - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 1:05 pm:


    Regarding the Saudis and any other source including our own wells. It is s finite resource. It does run out. The first duty of the Saudi rulers is to the welfare of their citizens not to ours. They have to provide for the security and the economic well being. And they are running into a bind. They are going to have to use some of their own capital to invest elsewhere to discover and lift oil.

    The first duty of our government is the security and well being (pursuit of happiness) of our own citizens.

    Small factoid, the People’s Republic of China is drilling offshore of Cuba. They have a spectacular need for more supply. They have built a 2000 mile pipeline from one of the former Russian ‘Stans well into western China. taking control of their oil output. That is not enough to handle their steeply rising demand. They are constructing more than 20 nuclear reactors using safe pebble bed technology. Over the objections of the world’s greenies they have built the Great Gorge Dam to deliver electricity and are building another huge dam as well. endangered fish be damned (pun intended.) It is still not enough. And their Coal Plants et al are exempt from Kyoto.

    Damn right it would be good to get alternative energy. What do you think nuclear power plants are? The next advance in that area is to go to fusion (hydrogen atom energy) Our own research is relatively underfunded as we try to discern how to control the heat from the process. A European consortium at CERN of which we have a very small piece is moving ahead. But we are not prepared to build when necessary.

    Rob, your sloganeering tells me you know bugger all about oil economics, refinery regulation and the lot. All you have is anti-Bush rhetoric to fall back on. Do I think there are a lot of areas in which Bush-Chaney have hugely underperformed. You bet. Do I think that we had better get involved in a huge way in alternative energy resources. You bet. How are we going to find the capital to change the energy industry, the automobile industry and the remainder of the transportation industry? The 64 trillion dollar question.

  52. - Inconvenient Truth - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 1:21 pm:

    This stunt was only succssful in that it drew free publicity to a campaign which will need to horde its resources in order to have any chance to compete. Examine the amounts raised and cash on hand from the FEC to better understand this point.

    So what does the Seals campaign do in order to draw attention to itself. They stage a cheap stunt; both in message, and in cost. The cost was negligible, since the price differential and the inherent limitations in the disbursement capacity and the time frame to participate were tightly controlled. In fact; if they were actually smart they would have hedged their cost by securing a volume discount from the participating proprietor in advance to further limit their financial risk, but then again his campaign was pretty dumb last time, and this time I think they are even worse.

    The message was bereft of any substance by virtue of the fact that they wanted to draw attention to the high price of gas over a pre-determined period of time, and then suggest that by electing him the current economy for gas would not have occurred, or that by doing so now that he can do something to positively effect the price in the future? He assumes the voters of this district are stupid, and is panedering to the lowest common denominator, in the hopes of getting himself some free TV or press time. The 10th distirct is one of the single most educated congressional districts in the country, and the voters there will quickly recognize how stupid this is, and it will backfire in terms of appealing to the people that count; those that live and vote there. Seals for his part is too stupid to even move into the district to take the residency issue highlighted in the last cycle off the table. 10th District voters can easily ask themselves; how much does he really care about the district, if he won’t live in it first?

    More importantly; to a large number of voters in the District, the reality is that Motor vehicles are responsible for almost a quarter of annual US emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), reportedly the primary global-warming gas. The US transportation sector emits more CO2 than all but three other countries’ emissions from all sources combined. And motor vehicle emissions will continue to increase as more vehicles hit America’s roads and the number of miles driven grows.

    Three factors contribute to CO2 emissions from cars and trucks:

    Amount of fuel used

    Amount of CO2 released when a particular fuel is consumed

    Number of vehicle miles traveled

    Seals stunt caused a large number of drivers to consume more fuel than they otherwise would have by having many of them drive out of their way to try to save money. Then, they concentrated themselves in one place, where they otherwise would not have been, in order to try to capitalize on the advertsied savings. Then, they failed to idle their engines while waiting, and increased emissions at a location; at a time when vehicle traffic would have been substantially less.

    Finally; instead of using the opportunity to educate motorists about some progressive energy conservation plan he had in mind to champion if elected to congress, he instead had some campaign staffer passing out bumper stickers to those waiting in line.

    One woman; filling up her GMC Yukon, said she was appreciative of the savings, and inclined to vote for him as a result, so there is some lowest common demoninator out there with whom this has resonated. Why bother buying and driving a more fuel efficient car, when some candidate pandering to you will help try to discount the cost of your gas in order to get his face on TV for free?

    Unfortunately for Seals, the people in the district are smart; and they know dumb when they see it. They won’t vote for it in sufficient numbers despite a (D) after his name on the ballot.

    Kirk will be pressed to work hard again; but he has done that in every campaign, no matter who the opponent has been, starting form the very first primary election.

    Kirk will be re-eleced again, and that for some is, the Inconvenient Truth.

  53. - archpundit - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 1:35 pm:

    ===But, if you feel the need to counter everything I say on my Blog over at yours, or here at Cap Fax Blog, please try to keep your responses centered on the facts, and avoid ad-homenium attacks like you and Archpundit seem to like to do.

    Pot meet kettle at best here. Your argument is silly. You continue to claim it is vote buying, but yet you cannot differentiate it from hundreds of other things given away by candidates. There is no quid pro quo and thus there is no violation of the law.

    For example, Jeff Smith running in MO-3 provided thousands of DVDs to individuals that after the campaign he sold for about $20 each. That’s about the same value per voter reached as this one, but it reached thousands instead of about 50. Case law and the letter of the law do not support you contention.

    Your continued claims to both be a lawyer and claim the FEC is going to come knocking seem contradictory, however. FEC deals with campaign finance violations, not vote buying. Vote buying investigations are conducted by State’s Attorneys or the US Attorney.

    The sole purpose of the Federal Elections Commission is to enforce campaign finance regulations. Expenditures of this type are not regulated by campaign finance law.

    How you can be so certain of your argument while not understanding this distinction is amusing, but kind of undercuts the argument you keep trying to make.

  54. - GoBearsss - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 1:38 pm:

    Rich, this fight is slightly more entertaining.

  55. - Team America, World Police - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 1:41 pm:

    Arch, then I guess we’ll let Mr. Fitzgerald settle this. Not only is Kirk also a lawyer himself, his staff is pretty competent. I doubt they would have raised the claim to the U.S. Attorney if they thought it was a “silly” argument.

  56. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 1:45 pm:

    Bringing this to Fitzgerald, who is quite busy dealing with real corruption, is a waste of taxpayers money and is a far more craven political stunt than Seals’ gas discount on many, many levels.

  57. - Team America, World Police - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 1:49 pm:

    So, Rich, did Mark Kirk run over your dog, or something? Your entire post and comments on this issue have been so spun in favor of Seals you’re making me dizzy.

  58. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 1:54 pm:

    Back off, TA. You know I’m situational when covering campaigns. What Kirk is doing is trying mightily to turn a positive stunt for Seals into a negative. The Tribune complied, which was just goofy. And using the US Attorney for something this trivial is, frankly, unconscionable.

    It’s a long campaign. Don’t try to peg me as being for one side or the other.

  59. - Ghost - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 1:54 pm:

    TA what does being a lawyer have to do with Kirk’s competence or judgment? Our Gov is a lawyer too. So then are you saying Kirk and our Gov have the same quality of judgment.

    Seals got great publicity from the event, it was a good plan. The number of attacks only help to bolster the publicity and the people who actually are paying for gas and feeling the effects do not seem disapointed with him at all. In fac, why spend 10grand or more on a billboard or radio spot that does nothing to help people.

    I would like to see more poiticians use advertising dollars in a manner that helps out people; not just raising the profit margins of the media.

  60. - Team America, World Police - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:01 pm:

    Ghost- the point was simply that a lawyer ought to be capable of exercising informed judgment as to whether or not there was a violation of law. Kirk’s camp decided to raise it with Fitzgerald’s office. One would assume that someone in Kirk’s position (with a legal background, not to mention being a congressman) would not raise a claim he believed to be baseless.

  61. - Vote Quimby! - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:05 pm:

    I’m sick and tired of people equating “attorney” with “intelligence.”

  62. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:06 pm:

    Everyone should remember, the Bush administration has used the Justice Department to prosecute political enemies.

    At least a couple of these convictions have been overturned on appeal.

    So, let’s ask Mark Kirk if he’s got a problem with the GOP using the Justice Department to prosecute Democrats, like Don Siegelman, on frivolous charges.

    Does Mark Kirk think the House of Representatives should look into the Bush administration misusing the powers of the Justice Department to prosecute political opponents? Or investigate the Justice Department obstructed Justice by interfering with investigations?

  63. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:08 pm:

    TA, should the House of Representatives investigate the Bush Justice Department for obstructing justice.

    There is circumstantial evidence.

  64. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:09 pm:

    I’m shocked! shocked! that the Tribune would serve as a mouthpiece for Republican operatives without disclosing they are Republican operatives.

  65. - Rob_N - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:16 pm:


    We already have the capital to change those things — it’s currently going toward profits for oil cos.

    You and I agree on several things, yet you conclude by claiming all I have is anti-Bush sloganeering? Then by the same must apply to you as well since we agree on so much…

    You neglected several points. The Japanese are years ahead of Detroit in terms of hybrid and electric vehicle technology. Detroit tried saving money while the Japanese tried planning for the future.

    That future is here.

    Alternative energy must include sustainability as a component. Those new nuke generators in China are going to leave that country with a stockpile of waste. A dictatorship can just up and decide where to dump all that radioactive material. Here in America Nevada has made it clear they don’t want our nation’s radioactive garbage dumped on them.

    …In the meantime (while we wait for fusion…) we have solar, wind, etc. as freely available sustainable sources. Rep. Kirk has, rightly, been promoting such things.


    You need to try taking those partisan blinders off every now and then.

    In this very post, Rich highlighted a comment from Andy McKenna saying it was a reasonable argument from the GOP. (Which, in the end, it turns out McKenna didn’t have all his facts straight since the Seals campaign had talked to the Lincolnshire police dept. ahead of time, including payment for services rendered.)

    Yet you upbraid Rich for pointing out other facts when those facts run counter to your biases…

    I’m surprised you didn’t claim he was “attacking you” with “ad hominems” because he pointed out those facts.

  66. - Bill - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:18 pm:

    Everyone seems to be a little on edge today. Too much time in the capitol will do that to you.
    Maybe a little too much cheer at the funder last night?

  67. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:19 pm:

    5-day sessions bring out the worst in me.

  68. - Truthful James - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:20 pm:

    Back off all. Does anybody truly believe that Kirk’s was not just a counter-stunt to the Seals stunt?

    Does anybody really believe that PatFitz would pay any attention?

    Do you really believe that Tinker Bell is dead?

  69. - Bill S. Preston, Esq. - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:21 pm:

    Rich, excellent use of the word tschotkes. And even spelled correctly! Your Yiddish is impeccable…

  70. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:24 pm:

    The miracle of Google.

  71. - Rob_N - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:28 pm:

    Rich Miller is clearly a plagiarizer! ;)

    Me: last night.

    I love that word too. It’s so appropriate for so many situations.

  72. - Truthful James - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:47 pm:


    This excess profits (income) where does it show on the balance sheet? (Assets=Liabilities+Equity) Increase in Cash, Investment in Assets, Reduction in Liabilities? Certainly not in increased dividends to the owners.

  73. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:48 pm:

    If the Seals campaign talked to the Lincolnshire police “ahead of time” then why was the Chief of Police on TV acting so angry over only getting an hour’s notice?

    Did he have to pull members of his department off their regular patrols or beats to deal with this stunt? He certainly did not look very pleased.

  74. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:59 pm:

    I believe begging oil shieks for extra production, calling oil executives into Congress for grilling sessions, and performing political stunts will solve our energy problems. And the more partisan the efforts, the better.

    I really do.

  75. - VanillaMan - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 2:59 pm:

    –At some point, whether we all (Repubs and Demos alike) want it or not, oil will run out–

    In 1920, the USGS chief geologist estimated total
    oil remaining in the U.S. at 6.7 billion barrels with a margin of error of 25%.

    We’ve seen constant updates of this doomsday scenario and it has been wrong everytime. In 1979, during the Carter years, we were assured that by 1988, oil will be gone.

    Almost a century of hearing this. Always wrong.

  76. - Rob_N - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 3:01 pm:


    What is the point of your diversion? Are the oil companies not showing profits (record profits by most accounts)?

    Even Dick Cheney, back in his days as a Congressman, called for higher (much higher) taxes on fuel. If we went that route, those Cheney fuel taxes could be invested directly into alternative energy sources and alternative vehicle engine systems.

    If we don’t go the Cheney gas tax route, we could encourage oil companies to invest in similar R+D by teamming up with Detroit, universities, green industry entrepreneurs, etc. by offering them tax breaks for doing so…

    It’s a two-way street (bad pun intended).

    Louis, good question.

    I wonder if the Seals campaign talked to a lower-level person about it and the chief was not made aware by his own staff… Wouldn’t be the first time something like that’s happened.

    Seals had a press conference at the exact same gas station two years ago. There was barely a whisper about it back then.

  77. - Truthful James - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 3:11 pm:

    Rob –

    No diversion intended.

    But everything goes from the income statement to the balance sheet.

    profits can be distributed to shareholders. They can be assigned to pay the principal down on borrowings Liabilities downm equity (retained earnings up) They can be used to acquire assets mecessary for the location and drilling of and transport of oil. (Assets up; retained earnings up) Or a combination of this and other things.

    IF it was placed in cash or financial investments without a plan for use as above, then I might call them excess. If the shareholders were enriched by huge increases in dividends I might call them excess profits. But retention within the company for investment in real assets designed to increase the capacity to locate and drill, and/or refine I would not call excess.

  78. - Rob_N - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 3:28 pm:

    OK James, but where did I call them “excess” profits?

    Regardless, no new refineries have been built in umpteen years and there are no big plans to do so in the near term on a massive scale.

    (That said, I wonder where on the spectrum those who are using these threads to complain that environmental regulations are too burdensome fall in relation to BP’s plans to dump more mercury into Lake Michigan drinking water than current regulations allow… Are these same complainers ok with more mercury in their glass of water?)

    PS: The profits could just as well be invested in alt. fuels and technologies, as I explained.

  79. - Rob_N - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 3:45 pm:


    I said “at some point” which is true. It’s a finite resource. No matter how many more rigs we drill for it’s going to dry up.

    We might as well use the time we have to convert over to alt. fuels — a bonus of which may be less pollution and thus less asthma, less tainted rainwater, etc.

  80. - Truthful James - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 3:59 pm:

    Rob –

    I stand corrupted. You did not use the word excess.

    Many did — those who propose to install an excess profits tax by implication.

    Great discussion. Have a great weekend.

    I still wish we had Decoration Day at the end of the month and celebrated it solemnly as the time when we went to the cemeteries and put flowers on the graves of our soldiers, especially those graves that appeared to be unvisited and needed tending.

    We would have more of a sense of what we had lost and what the true cost of war and sacrifice are.

    Monday the 24th is not Memorial Day, just another day for Sales.

  81. - RAI - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 3:59 pm:

    Rob N and others who believe oil is a finite commodity
    VanillaMan is correct! This is from the
    Joint Institute of the Physics of the Earth, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow; and
    Gas Resources Corporation, Houston.
    ABSTRACT: For almost a century, various predictions have been made that the human race was imminently going to run out of available petroleum. The passing of time has proven all those predictions to have been utterly wrong. It is pointed out here how all such predictions have depended fundamentally upon an archaic hypothesis from the 18th century that petroleum somehow (miraculously) evolved from biological detritus, and was accordingly limited in abundance. That hypothesis has been replaced during the past forty years by the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins which has established that petroleum is a primordial material erupted from great depth. Therefore, petroleum abundances are limited by little more than the quantities of its constituents as were incorporated into the Earth at the time of its formation; and its availability depends upon technological development and exploration competence.
    This is from Newsday:Oil Fields Are Refilling…
    Naturally - Sometimes Rapidly
    This is from The WSJ:
    HOUSTON — Something mysterious is going on at Eugene Island 330.
    Production at the oil field, deep in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, was supposed to have declined years ago. And for a while, it behaved like any normal field: Following its 1973 discovery, Eugene Island 330’s output peaked at about 15,000 barrels a day. By 1989, production had slowed to about 4,000 barrels a day.

    Then suddenly — some say almost inexplicably — Eugene Island’s fortunes reversed. The field, operated by PennzEnergy Co., is now producing 13,000 barrels a day, and probable reserves have rocketed to more than 400 million barrels from 60 million. Stranger still, scientists studying the field say the crude coming out of the pipe is of a geological age quite different from the oil that gushed 10 years ago.
    This is from NASA:Titan’s Surface Organics Surpass Oil Reserves on Earth
    The Greens would do anything to keep this info out of the public debate. As Rich said Google is a miracle. I Googled “Oil fields are refilling” there was 877,000 results

  82. - Rob_N - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 4:11 pm:

    James writes, “I still wish we had Decoration Day…”

    We do do this in my town after the community’s Memorial Day ceremony.

    And I agree on the need to have more of a sense of what we’ve lost… You and I differ on the ongoing quagmire in Iraq and how we got there, but if we as a nation had more of such a sense of the supreme sacrifice involved we may not have been so callous about it beforehand.

    As I’ve essentially written elsewhere in recent days — this is always a bittersweet holiday. We can enjoy the parades, bbqs, movie premieres and other fun exactly because of the sacrifices of those who have answered the call to defend those very freedoms (including yourself, as I recall).

  83. - Truthful James - Friday, May 23, 08 @ 4:18 pm:


    I do not think we have any diagreement about Iraq, except perhaps now we are getting the result mostly right.

    I had written extensively in my Blog, but the Blogspot people have somehow vacated my comments when they switched to Google. I am trying to get it back. It was called

    Rich has my email address and I give him permission to pass it on to you and I will fill your inbox with the stuff I have disseminated.

    Write me is you want to see it.

  84. - Stunt-O-Meter - Saturday, May 24, 08 @ 10:34 am:

    I call on Kirk to reimburse the United States Navy and Waukegan Police for using them as props for his campiagn material.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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