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Dipping into the reader mailbag

Notes from the Press column by Chris Graham

AFP reader Arthur Ross made me do some thinking this morning.

“If Virginia has 57 million barrels of oil available, and it is not in the cue to be used, and we use 20 million a day from some source, then the 57 will extend what we have for a lot longer than just turning off the rest to use up the 57 million and go back to the original source,” Ross wrote by e-mail in response to my column from yesterday, “Fact and fiction on oil in the Sixth.”

In the column, I raised issue with the contention by Sixth District Republican incumbent Bob Goodlatte that the 57 million barrels of oil available off the Virginia coast would have a positive impact on gas prices.

As I pointed out in the column, the U.S. consumes about 20 million barrels of oil per day, so we’re talking about three days worth of oil there. Hardly an amount that we could try to say would have more than a dent of impact on gas prices.

I took the opportunity to write Ross back to explain my thoughts on the issue in more depth. “Those 57 million barrels are not used only in Virginia, of course, as I think you mention here. They are sold on the worldwide market. I can’t imagine that they have even a half-penny effect on oil prices on the global market, and that would be assuming that they were all available at once, which they would not be. I offered that comparison about how many days it would take the U.S. to blow through that amount of oil to offer perspective on how relatively small that cache is,” I wrote to Ross.

I think we both made good points there. Thanks, Arthur, for engaging.



I am curious how much a Democrat or Republican representative makes when they become a congressman or woman and also when they are a seasoned congressman or woman like Kennedy.

I really think that they should make the median pay of their states and only be paid for when Congress is in session.

– Lisa Birchler


Lisa, as it turns out, members of Congress don’t get paid more based on seniority, though elected leaders within Congress do get more. Rank-and-file members earn $169,300 a year. The majority and minority leaders in both the House and the Senate get a bump up to $188,100 a year, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi makes $217,400.

As to what they should be paid … I don’t know that I disagree that it’s too much, but I don’t know that we’d ever see salaries tied to the median income of the states and districts from which representatives and senators live. There’d be a whole host of constitutional issues there just off the top, not to mention that we’d have to get Congress to agree to do it, and I can’t imagine that we’d ever see members voting to lower their take-home.

Not a bad idea, but …




I’m curious; why did you use the phrase “…sold [presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee] Barack Obama down the river…” (in the column “What Kaine was said to have said, and what he actually said“)?

I wondered if you were intentionally looking for editorial impact regarding the differences between the current presidential candidates, or if you wanted to (almost subliminally and very cleverly, I think) refer to the Republicans as though they might resemble slaveowners, or if it was just a coincidence that you would use that phrase, not considering its possible current meaning or context to your readers?

I’m reading lots of Mark Twain these days, and that may be why I noticed what seemed to be more than the modern, casual meaning of “sold down the river.” To me, there seems to be an unclear, inferred meaning in your use of it that escapes me, and that being the case I imagine you would invite my questions.

– Peter Gorsuch


Whoa, Nellie! I wrote Peter back to tell him that I wasn’t trying to be clever, though upon examination I see exactly what he was saying there. “Sold down the river” is a phrase that we can tend to throw around rather casually in this day and age, but the original meaning is quite serious, obviously.

Just to be clear, I wasn’t trying to evoke images of Republicans as slaveowners. And since Tim Kaine was the person to whom I was saying that the GOP camp had characterized as having sold someone down the river, well …




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augusta free press
augusta free press