Sunday, November 19, 2006

Will Michael Arcuri Join Pelosi in Silence on Military Commissions Act?

This morning, the Washington Post laments that the new Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives seems to have no intention of investigation, much less providing a remedy for, the infamous Military Commissions Act.

For those who have not paid attention to the news this autumn, the Military Commissions Act does the following:
  • Revokes the right of habeas corpus
  • Ends enforcement of the Geneva Conventions
  • Legalizes torture
  • Gives war criminals legal amnesty
  • Sets up kangaroo courts with absurd standards of justice
  • Provides the President of the United States the power to imprison people without any criminal charge or proof of wrongdoing

    Democrats were elected to Congress to challenge the Republican way of doing things. But, so far, Nancy Pelosi doesn't seem very interested in dealing with the most serious Republican abuses: The Republicans' attacks upon the liberty that Americans once held dear. Do Americans still hold that liberty dear?

    Some clearly do. Others don't seem to care - and among those others are many Democrats. Nancy Pelosi did not vote for the Military Commissions Act, but she faces a House of Representatives in which the majority of members did, or would have, if they had been elected. New Congressman Mike Arcuri is among those who supported the Military Comissions Act. He thought it was a jim dandy idea.

    When a big chunk of the Democratic Congress joins the Republicans in supporting laws like the Military Commissions Act, we may have a Democratic Party majority in Congress, but more functionally, we still have a Congress that disdains the effort to protect the freedoms guaranteed us under the Bill of Rights.

    We will see, in a few short weeks, what kind of Congressman Michael Arcuri will really be. Will he work with other Democrats to take action on the Military Commissions Act? If he follows the new House leadership, it appears that he won't. Here's what the Washington Post's editorial board had to say this morning about the House Democratic leaderships apparent plan of inaction on the Military Commissions Act:

    "Future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently named three priorities for investigation, including private contracting in Iraq, the handling of Hurricane Katrina and the administration's formulation of energy policy. It's hard to understand why Democrats would insist on examining Vice President Cheney's first-term energy task force but would not seek to determine -- at last -- how senior military commanders and defense officials may have contributed to the prisoner abuse scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. No one but low-ranking soldiers has been criminally prosecuted for the shocking abuse at Abu Ghraib, despite evidence that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and several top generals played a role in sanctioning practices such as sexually humiliating prisoners and threatening them with dogs. Democrats now will have the opportunity -- and the duty -- to insist on accountability."
  • Thursday, November 16, 2006

    Congress Must Act to Restrain Security State Insanity

    What's shown, or heard, in this video may be the tipping point that finally brings America face to face with the nightmarish implications of its Homeland Security paranoia. Watch it. More than that, listen to it, because much of the action is obscured by the crowd of witnesses...

    ...witnesses of the repeated attacks by police against a UCLA student, using a taser stun gun. What had the student done? Had he been violent? No. He was simply reading books in his own university library, without identification. For that, the police shocked him over and over again, with the student screaming in pain each time. I count at least 5 times the student was shocked.

    I'm putting this movie on this blog, because it is a sign of a serious problem that Congress needs to deal with: The security paranoia in the United States has gotten out of hand. As the Los Angeles Times reports, this is not an isolated incident. More and more, police are being caught on tape using violent force against people just for refusing to show identification in public places.

    The police in this particular incident were so violent that they threatened to attack one witness, David Remesnitsky, with their stun gun simply for not leaving the scene of the brutality.

    Describing the attack, Remesnitsky said, "It was beyond grotesque. By the end they took him over the stairs, lifted him up and Tasered him on his rear end. It seemed like it was inappropriately placed. The Tasering was so unnecessary and they just kept doing it."

    We don't need security sweeps of police officers through university libraries, attacking students with stun guns, to keep us safe. Homeland Security has gone too far. The Democratic Congress ought to be holding hearings on this problem, and finding ways to bring the security paranoia back under control.

    Well, that's my reaction, anyway, after watching a student being electrically shocked over and over and over and over again. But, as the Democrats in this district keeps on telling me, I'm just part of the liberal fringe that Congressman Arcuri wants to distance himself from.

    Maybe this kind of thing is what the Democratic mainstream wants: Strong shows of force against students emperiling the security of the Homeland by reading books without an ID. Maybe most people feel safer with these kinds of security sweeps taking place. Law and order and all that.

    We're all in danger, after all, right? There are terrorists lurking in every airport, just waiting for us to stop putting our shoes through the X-ray machines, right?

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Don't Judge Michael Arcuri On This Vote

    Michael Arcuri is set to take one of his first actions as a member of Congress, voting for majority leader of the House of Representatives. There's a real contest for that seat, between Steny Hoyer and John Murtha. Steny Hoyer is the longtime Democratic Party Whip in the House of Representatives, and John Murtha gained nationwide fame recently by coming out in favor of ending the Iraq War.

    John Murtha is to be thanked for supporting an end to the Iraq War, and giving cover to other Democrats on the issue. However, Murtha has a right wing voting record on many issues that makes him a troubling pick for Majority Leader in a Democratic House. Murtha voted in favor of starting the war in Iraq in the first place, for one thing. Murtha has also supported attacks on the Endangered Species Act and voted in favor of ridiculous measures such as amending the Constitution in order to ban flag burning.

    Worse than John Murtha's affinity for parts of the right wing agenda is his long history of corruption. The Democrats promised to clean up corruption in the House, but that promise looks like a sham with the nomination of Murtha. Melanie Sloan, the Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, comments, "Pelosi's endorsement suggests to me she was interested in the culture of corruption only as a campaign issue and has no real interest in true reform."

    Steny Hoyer doesn't have the long history of corruption that John Murtha has had, but he does share Murtha's propensity for abandoning the Democratic Party mainstream in Congress in order to vote with the Republicans on important issues. For example, Hoyer recently crossed party lines in order to vote to renew the Patriot Act in spite of serious concerns about the law's use in assembling gigantic government databases filled with information about the private, legal activities of American citizens. Hoyer's job as Democratic Whip was to make sure that as few Democratic members of the House crossed party lines as possible, so what was he doing crossing working with George W. Bush and the Republicans? Hoyer's failures as Democratic Whip, serving during a time when the Congressional Democrats became famous for their lack cohesion, suggests that he won't do a good job as Majority Leader.

    Then there's Congressman Hoyer's support for the Iraq War. Like Murtha, Hoyer voted against the will of the majority of Democratic voters in 2002 when he helped George W. Bush start the war. At least Murtha eventually saw the error of his ways. Not Hoyer. Steny Hoyer has kept on supporting the Iraq War, long after any rational justifications for doing so fell away.

    Who will new Congressman Michael Arcuri vote for in this election for Majority Leader? Arcuri says he supports Steny Hoyer. That's not a good choice. On the other hand, voting for Murtha wouldn't be a good choice either. Arcuri's worth as a member of Congress cannot be judged by this vote.

    However, the Democrats of the House of Representatives in general certainly can be judged for this vote. Steny Hoyer and John Murtha may be powerful, but they are not at all the most qualified for the job of Majority Leader. The Democrats said they'd run things differently if they got the majority back, but the Murtha-Hoyer contest does not instill confidence.

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    Reason for Skepticism of Arcuri and House Democrats

    The Democrats have retaken the Congress, and this has been the cause of much celebrating across America. Celebrating is fun, but it doesn't actually get anything done.

    Luckily, the new Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives has come out with a plan for getting things done. Unfortunately, that plan gives great cause for skepticism.

    Go ahead and look at the House Democrats' legislative plan. Notice something missing? I'll give you a hint: The central issue of the 2006 congressional campaign was, for most voters, the war in Iraq.

    There's nothing in the House Democrats' plan about Iraq at all. No plan for Iraq.

    There's also nothing in the House Democrats' plan for dealing with the Military Commissions Act, or the new warrantless wiretapping legalization, or any of the other serious attacks on our liberty. Go ahead and search the entire website of the incoming House Democratic leadership. I did. On the entire web site, there is not a single mention of the Military Commissions Act. There isn't one mention of habeas corpus.

    The House Democrats do mention torture, though - 4 times. Unfortunately, the last time they did so was in April, 2005.

    At the bottom of the House Democratic leadership's 100 hours plan, there is the statement, "This new direction represents the priorities of a unified Democratic Party. This is our pledge to the American people."

    Were these your priorities in voting for Democrat Mike Arcuri? No plan for Iraq? Do nothing about restoring the foundations of liberty in America?

    Maybe the House Democrats have another, second, secret plan to deal with these other priorities later. Maybe, but there is good cause for skepticism.

    The time for party loyalty and the election rhetoric is over. We need to look at the facts of what the Democrats say they plan to do, not what we assume or hope that they would do.

    Promises by someone who has no legislative record are easy to make, and easy to break.

    Michael Arcuri hasn't had the chance to actually do anything as a member of Congress. No votes yet. No cosponsorships yet. As those opportunities for action come, however, I'll be keeping track here of what Michael Arcuri actually does.

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    Learned from Michael Arcuri's Victory

    I learned a few very important things from Michael Arcuri's strong victory last night:

    1. My political opinions are not representative of the opinions of the Democrats in the 24th congressional district.
    2. My political opinions are not represented by the Democrats of the 24th congressional district.
    3. In our district, the huge majority of Democrats will not reject the Democratic candidate for Congress
    4. Independents are a major force to be reckoned with in the 24th congressional district, even though they're poorly understood, and may not really be a force so much as a collection of tens of thousands of forces that occasionally move in the same direction
    5. I really ought to stop making predictions about what will happen in the future

    Most Democratic voters in this district seem to have been unconcerned that Michael Arcuri supports the Military Commissions Act. Heck, they may not even know what the Military Commissions Act is, or care to know. There may even be some Democrats in this district who know what the Military Commissions Act is and are glad that Michael Arcuri supports it.

    This makes me part of that "liberal fringe" that Michael Arcuri blasted earlier on in the campaign. That bothers me, that it's just a tiny fringe of the Democratic Party now that cares about things like the end of habeas corpus and the Geneva Conventions, and the legalization of torture.

    There is another group of Democrats in this district than those I've already mentioned, though, a small group: They're the Democrats who know what the Military Commissions Act is, know that Michael Arcuri supports it, are disturbed about that support, but voted for Arcuri anyway. This small group voted for Michael Arcuri because they were worried that, if they didn't help Arcuri get elected, they would be responsible for the Democrats failing to take back control of the House of Representatives.

    This group of Democrats made a figurative deal with the devil. As with all deals with the devil, the devil came out on top. Michael Arcuri's win was actually not at all necessary to the effort to take back the House of Representatives from the Republicans. The Democrats needed 15 seats. By my count, they got at least 27.

    Some of these Democrats may harbor fantasies that Michael Arcuri will be challenged from within the Democratic Party in 2008. I'm not going to predict for certain that that won't happen, because I've learned that I'm pretty bad at making political predictions. However, I will observe that the Democratic County Committees have learned a couple of nasty lessons:

    1. If they don't let the voters have a political primary, victory results.
    2. With a shift toward the right wing of the Democratic Party, victory results.

    Given this learning, why in the world would the Democratic County Committees in this district abandon what gave them success, and support a progressive challenger? No, the Democrats are stuck with a decidedly unprogressive Michael Arcuri now, at least until he's defeated by a Republican.

    But, then, I'm not a Democrat any longer. I started out this year blogging as 24 Democrat, but now end it writing as 24 independent. Clearly, a person like myself doesn't really fit well within the Democratic Party of New York's 24th congressional district. I'm re-registered as a non-affiliated voter, though that registration won't take effect until 2008.

    Let the Democrats celebrate. As for myself, I'll be watching what Congressman Arcuri actually does in Washington D.C., for good and for bad.

    Read on, if you like, when the next session of Congress begins in January.

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    Mike Arcuri and Ray Meier Death Penalty Pander

    Congressional elections sort out the wheat from the chaff. True leaders respond to the pressure of campaigning by rising above the level of crass politicking and popular gimmicks to stand for what's right, inspiring voters to join them in the effort to make things better. Weak-minded politicians who cannot muster the courage or creativity necessary to make such a stand appeal instead to cheap, crowd-pleasing gestures that turn voters on without requiring them to think.

    Here in the 24th congressional district of New York State, we have been stuck with a couple of big pieces of chaff this year, weak-minded politicians so obsessed with pleasing voters that they have descended into pandering to us.

    Take flag burning, for example. Both Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri have come out in opposition to it. But, is it a meaningful issue? Have we got a rash of flag burnings going on here in the 24th district? Can anyone remember the last time that someone burned a flag here? Would we really want to make it a crime to engage in that kind of protest, and if so, what other forms of protest should we criminalize? Flag burning isn't so much an issue as it is an opportunity for Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier to appeal to the bigoted resentment of the expression of unpopular ideas.

    The pandering gets more serious when it comes to the death penalty, however. Both Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri have campaigned as strong supporters of the death penalty. That's a popular position to take. It makes a lot of people happy to think of bad guys getting killed as punishment for their crimes.

    The problem is that the death penalty is nothing but a crowd-pleasing gimmick. It isn't a serious policy.

    Thanks to the pandering of Republican politicians in Albany, we had the death penalty in New York State for many years. But, during all that time, not a single person was actually executed. The last execution of a person in New York State was in 1963. Then, you have to back another 19 years to get the last execution before that. Although there was a death penalty in effect for most of the 20th century in New York State, only 8 people were executed during that time.

    The reason for this tiny number of executions is that the death penalty just doesn't work. The legal apparatus of the death penalty has never really been worked out, and the result is that either hardly anyone is ever executed, or too many people, including a lot of innocent people, are put to death. The recent DNA proof of large numbers of innocent people put on death row ought to give any thinking person serious doubts about the death penalty.

    Of course, Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri haven't shown themselves to be thinking people this year. They're politicians out pandering for votes.

    Mike Arcuri and Ray Meier support the death penalty, not because the death penalty would do a thing to make our lives better here in New York, but because they want to create the impression that they're tough guys.

    Tough guys are the last thing we need in Congress right now. We need smart guys, and guys with integrity. We need leaders who have the capacity to grow into statesmen.

    We here in the 24th district won't what we need this year. Go out and vote today. Voting is important. Just don't have any illusions about the race for the House of Representatives. This year, you'll only have the opportunity to pick your particular preference of pander.

    Just close your eyes and think of 2008.

    Monday, November 06, 2006

    Bob Johnson is What Integrity Looks Like

    24th district Democrats, Michael Arcuri has broken his promise to local Democratic elected officials. He recently tried to placate angry Democrats by promising Democratic elected officials from our district that he would come out with a public statement opposing the Military Commissions Act. Mike Arcuri said he would put that statement on his web site.

    Michael Arcuri lied to them. He hasn't done it. Michael Arcuri's staff confirmed to me today that Arcuri still supports the Military Commissions Act.

    Arcuri's new line would be amusing, if it weren't so darkly pathetic: Arcuri now says that if he had been in Congress this September, when the House of Representatives voted for the Military Commissions Act, he would have voted for it, and then, later at some time or another, would try to work to amend it.

    Interesting idea, that: A freshman member of the House of Representatives amending a law pushed through Congress by the President of the United States. Come on, history buffs, think hard now. When was the last time that happened?

    The 24th district's county Democratic committees got a real first class weasel in Michael Arcuri when then they rushed to prematurely appoint a nominee in order to prevent a primary. Oh, Mike Arcuri talks tough in his campaign speeches. He'll stand up to George W. Bush, he says. But when it comes down to actually making a stand, to showing some integrity, Michael Arcuri folds like a piece of origami paper.

    When the heat was on, Arcuri stood with Ray Meier and George W. Bush. Whatever it takes to win an election seems to be Arcuri's motto. Of course, as soon as this election is over, if Arcuri wins, he's got the 2008 election to think about. Heck, the House of Representatives is almost constantly up for election. If a candidate for the House can't show some backbone during an election, he never will.

    So, it seems that Arcuri's campaign is willing to say one thing in public, and another thing to Democratic supporters in private. Does Michael Arcuri even remember what the truth is any more? If he's willing to deceive members of local Democratic committees, why should we trust anything he says?

    Bob Johnson, the Democratic candidate to the north of us, didn't get the early and constant assistance from the DCCC that Michael Arcuri, Rahm Emanuel's "recruit", got. But Bob Johnson has one thing that Michael Arcuri will never have: Integrity.

    Go ahead and listen to what Bob Johnson had to say about the Military Commissions Act in the campaign commercial below. Listen, and just try to imagine Michael Arcuri getting this kind of moral strength to pass through his lips.

    Yes, Michael Arcuri has a good shot at winning tomorrow, but at what cost? No matter whether Ray Meier wins or Michael Arcuri wins tomorrow, we will get a representative who is happy to support the worst right wing causes that the Republicans bring forth. That's not the choice we deserved.

    Yes, Bob Johnson probably won't win, but he's standing up for something more important than victory for the sake of victory. Bob Johnson aligned himself with a noble, but dying, cause: The defense of liberty in America.

    Tomorrow, will you be like Michael Arcuri, or will you be like Bob Johnson?

    Has Michael Arcuri Relented on Military Commissions Act?

    I got a telephone call this morning from a Democratic office holder in my town informing me that Michael Arcuri has finally reversed his endorsement of the Military Commissions Act, and now opposes the law. This person told me that the Arcuri for Congress campaign has promised people to announce Arcuri's opposition to the Military Commissions Act on the Arcuri for Congress web site.

    I regard this source as very credible. This source also told me that this statement promising to declare opposition to the Military Commissions Act has been made by Michael Arcuri to several different people.

    Geneva blogger Jodi Dean writes that she saw Michael Arcuri say on October 30 that he has reversed his position on the Military Commissions Act. She notes that Democrats in Geneva have been up in arms against Michael Arcuri because of Arcuri's support for the Military Commissions act, writing, "there has been substantial pressure from left voices here in Geneva since his last visit".

    Here's the trouble: I just called the Arcuri for Congress campaign, and was told that there has been no change in Michael Arcuri's support for the Military Commissions Act. I look on Michael Arcuri's web site, and I see that there is no statement at all indicating that Arcuri now opposes the Military Commissions Act. My source here in Ulysses also acknowledges that she has not seen any documented proof that Michael Arcuri has acknowledged his error and changed his position.

    Nowhere in any place of public record, not in a newspaper or in a blog, has Michael Arcuri indicated a change in his support for the Military Commissions Act.

    This issue is a vital matter in this race, because it's an indicator of whether Michael Arcuri will stand up to the Republicans in Washington D.C. or collaborate with them on the worst aspects of their legislative agenda.

    The Military Commissions Act:
  • Revokes habeas corpus
  • Ends enforcement of the Geneva Conventions
  • Legalizes torture
  • Provides legal amnesty to George W. Bush for any war crimes he may have committed
  • Sets up an alternative system of kangaroo courts with absurdly low standards of justice
  • Gives President Bush the power to declare someone an "enemy", and then lock them up in a secret prison without any trial, for as long as he likes

    It ought to be a no-brainer for a Democrat running for Congress to be against such a horrid law, but Michael Arcuri went and declared his support for the Military Commissions Act earlier this autumn... without bothering to actually read the law first.

    It seems to me that Michael Arcuri may be trying to play this issue both ways, telling Democrats in private that he'll oppose the Military Commissions Act, while maintaining his support for the Military Commissions Act in public. Or, it could be that the rumors of Michael Arcuri's change of heart are merely that - rumors.

    It seems that the Democrats in our district are getting nervous, and are deciding that Arcuri may well need the support of the progressives in this district after all.

    Michael Arcuri, you know what you have to do to get our support. Make a statement in public, where it's documented, that you now oppose the Military Commissions Act.

    It's that simple. Do the right thing. Your time is running out.
  • Sunday, November 05, 2006

    What kind of Democrat is a Boehlert Democrat?

    "I always say I consider myself, to a large extent, to be the Boehlert Democrat." - Michael Arcuri

    So Arcuri would have voted for the Iraq war, like Sherwood Boehlert did?

    Mike Arcuri would have voted to give government-funded groups the right to fire people for not belonging to the right religion, like Sherwood Boehlert did?

    Mike Arcuri would have voted to give President Bush the power to use the American military against the American people with HR 5122, like Sherwood Boehlert did?

    Mike Arcuri would have voted with the Republicans to give a special tax break to millionaires like Paris Hilton, like Sherwood Boelert did?

    Boehlert Democrat? Michael Arcuri sounds more like a Lieberman Democrat to me.

    Look at who Michael Arcuri's campaign is taking money from, and you'll see why Arcuri is talking so much like Joseph Lieberman these days. Michael Arcuri's top ideological contributor is the New Democrat Coalition, an organization set up by Joseph Lieberman to promote right wing ideology within the Democratic Party.

    Know what you're voting for on Tuesday, 24th district Democrats.

    Blogs Covering Arcuri Meier Race Fell Apart

    Whatever happened to the CNY Underground blog? The Republican-leaning site, often criticizing Michael Arcuri but rarely praising Ray Meier, has been replaced with an automatically-generated page full of links about phentermine, home mortgages, credit cards, and the like.

    The fall of CNY Underground follows the disintegration of the Weekly Democrat, the abandonment of You Go Mike, and the slowdown of Maimun Khan's blog to the pace of molasses in November.

    It's a mystery to me why, the closer we've gotten to Election Day, the more election-themed blogs have fallen by the wayside here in New York's 24th district.

    One possible explanation is that people feel much less personal interest in the general election than they have in the contest to see who will represent their political party. Primary season was hot with excited discussion and debate in a way that the contest of Michael Arcuri against Ray Meier has not been.

    Of course, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats got a chance to vote for who would represent their party in the general election. The local parties' leadership arranged the nomination all on their own. Perhaps that set the precedent for people's feelings about the election in general.

    Talking to both Republicans and Democrats in person about this election, I've noticed a complacent sort of feeling, with little attachment to either to Mike Arcuri or to Ray Meier. This election seems to have become a contest more of the political parties than a contest between the actual candidates. It's more about the Republicans vs. the Democrats than Ray Meier vs. Michael Arcuri.

    Most voters don't know much about what kind of policies Ray Meier or Michael Arcuri stand for. When they think Ray Meier, they think generic Republican. When they think Michael Arcuri, they think generic Democrat. This generic perception of the candidates is so dominant that voters are inclined to reject any information that doesn't fit expectations of what a Democrat or Republican will do in Congress.

    Without much specific attachment among voters to particular candidates, information about the candidates has come to seem not so important. The race has become not so much of a local affair as many campaign insiders suggested it would be. Rather, the election seems to have become just a local representation of the national contest for control of Congress. Voters seem less concerned about having a good representative than they are about which party has majority rule in the House of Representatives.

    We seem to be less citizens of New York's 24th congressional district than we are citizens of the United States of America in general. Local control of this campaign was ceded long ago, with the national Republican Party and the national Democratic Party setting the beat.

    So, what's a local blogger to do in this atmosphere? Repeat the party line? React to campaign commercials from the national Democratic and Republican parties? I don't blame so many bloggers for dropping out. The race has not produced much inspiring material to work with. Both Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri have demonstrated more cowardice than leadership.

    Then again, I don't really know what's led CNY Underground to hit the dirt, or for other blogs to call it a day. Maybe something else is afoot, leading the bloggers to fall by the wayside. Anyone have any hints?

    Saturday, November 04, 2006

    Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri Lead America Down the Rabbit Hole

    Think that the Military Commissions Act doesn't have any real impact on people, that it was just a political show? Maybe this news from the Washington Post this morning will convince you otherwise:

    "The Bush administration has told a federal judge that terrorism suspects held in secret CIA prisons should not be allowed to reveal details of the "alternative interrogation methods" that their captors used to get them to talk."

    "Alternative interrogation methods" is put in quotes by the Washington Post because everyone knows what that phrase really means. It means torture.

    The President of the United States is now asserting the power to torture people, and then to forbid people to tell anyone that they've been tortured. It's insane, but George W. Bush is right. He does have that power now, thanks to the Military Commissions Act.

    Professor Joseph Margulies, who teaches law at Northwestern University, says of this implementation of the Military Commissions Act, "Kafka-esque doesn’t do it justice. This is Alice in Wonderland."

    The survival of American liberty depends on the repeal of the Military Commissions Act. Does either Michael Arcuri or Ray Meier, running for Congress in our district this year, support the repeal of this unjust law? No. Both Meier and Arcuri support the Military Commissions Act.

    That's despicable, but it's also understandable, given that neither Democratic voters nor Republican voters were given the chance to select their own candidates. Local leaders in both parties prevented a primary election from taking place. No primary election means no voter choice, and so the local party leaders in effect appointed these two turkeys to run for office.

    You now only have the choice to vote for Turkey #1 or Turkey #2. So, why should these two candidates fret about a little thing like the Military Commissions Act? The way the political power game in our district is set up, voters don't have the chance to say no.

    Friday, November 03, 2006

    Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri Want Inappropriate Censorship

    At the recent debate between Democrat Mike Arcuri and Republican Ray Meier in Oneonta, both congressional candidates stepped over the line in their push to control negative campaign advertisements. Both Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri said that they want the law to be changed so that candidates will have the ability to control what other people say about the campaigns.

    We've seen a lot of negative campaign commercials this year, including commercials against Michael Arcuri accusing him of using public money to pay for calls to telephone sex numbers, and commercials accusing Ray Meier of beign responsible for high taxes. (Yes, for Republicans, taxation is equally as tawdry as phone sex.)

    The thing is that these commercials have been produced and paid for by organizations other than the candidates' own campaign committees. So, Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier haven't had a darned thing to do with them. That's what campaign finance laws require. If there's coordination with the candidate that the commercials appear to support, then the financial backing of the commercials, and the organization that produces them, become subject to campaign finance regulation. Negative advertisements become, in this way, a way for powerful organizations and individuals to exercise influence over an election.

    That's not an ideal situation, to be sure. However, the alternative arrangement that Mike Arcuri and Ray Meier support would be much worse.

    Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri don't like it that they don't have control over public messages about this race for Congress. So what? I'm sure Wal-Mart doesn't like it when outside organizations criticize its corporate practices. Wal-Mart would like to control the public messages about its operations, but the public safety would be put at risk if such control were allowed. The same would be true if candidates were allowed to control the public messages other groups spread about political campaigns.

    Free speech gives us each the right to criticize or praise whichever politicians we choose. There are some restrictions on non-profit organizations that receive tax-exempt status, but that's only because those organizations are, in effect, given a special privileged status by the government. If those organizations wish to give up that status, then they are free to communicate about political campaigns in any way they want to.

    If politicians like Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier were given the power to approve or reject the broadcast of messages about the races for public office in which they are running, we wouldn't hear anything negative about any candidates at all. Why would a political candidate allow any negative advertisement about themselves to be broadcast, if they had the power to stop it? Don't think that the candidate power to censor advertisements would be restricted to negative advertisements against their opponents.

    For that matter, if candidates were given the power to censor negative television or radio advertisements, what would stop them from trying to exercise this power over other media as well? What would stop Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri from claiming the power to approve or deny any given article I write for this blog?

    Besides, we would be naive to believe that Arcuri and Meier really want to eliminate negative advertising. The separation between candidates' own advertisements and the the advertisements created by unaffiliated organizations allows candidates to play the Good Cop/Bad Cop game. Arcuri and Meier say that outside groups are ruining the campaign for them by going negative, and get to take on the pose of virtuous indignation. At the same time, they benefit from the persuasive power of those negative advertisements, and they know it.

    Besides, what is a "negative advertisement" but a criticism of a political candidate? Do we really believe that the electoral process would become pure and refined if criticism of political candidates were outlawed?

    Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier both ought to be ashamed of themselves for requesting the power to censor what other people say about this race for a seat in Congress. They're condescending to voters, as if we're fragile children who have never heard or participated in a harsh argument.

    Everyone should be free to say what they want to about congressional candidates, so long as they don't engage in libel or slander. We voters are, after all, adults. Let us stop playing the game of pretending that we have virgin ears.

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri Drowned in a Sea of Babble

    There really isn't that much to say on the issues of this race that will matter - or that will get through to the voters. There are few undecided voters left, and besides, the practice of Google bombing by both Republicans and Democrats from across the country has reduced the level of political blog writing to mere cut and paste.

    Google bombing ought to be called blogosphere bombing, for the devastating effect that it has on online political debate. The practice involves bloggers cutting and pasting long lists of names of political candidates from the opposing party. Each one of those names is then linked to derogatory web site. The Google search engine then is supposed to note these links, and incorporate them into its algorithms, so that the top search result on Google for the candidate's name is a particular web site that has negative things to say about the candidate.

    The practical effect is that these cut and paste blog entries, which don't have any actual information themselves about the candidates, and are most often posted by people who don't even live in the district where the candidates run, clog up the blogosphere. People who search for up-to-date information on the candidates through blog search engines like Technorati or Google Blogsearch end up finding only a collection of babble Google bomb entries, all the same, none of them informing the voter. Thus, online politicial discussion about candidates is nearly erased. Only those online readers savvy enough to evade the Google bombing will have much success finding blogs that rise above the cut and paste frenzy.

    Besides, the Google bombs don't even really work very well. Do a Google search for "Ray Meier", for example, and the Google bomb target page hasn't even been elevated above the bottom link on the first page. One of the reasons is that the target page is a page with a video that doesn't have much in the way of text. Search engines pay a lot of attention to text content, so the video wasn't a particularly good choice for a Google bomb. Another reason the Google bomb has failed is that the Google algorithm is intelligently designed, so that web sites that pump out a lot of content that is identical to what other web sites publish tend to get demoted as spam.

    That's what a Google bomb is, really - spam. The voters deserve a lot better than that for information about the candidates.

    I see this morning that blogs are still doing Google bombs against Ray Meier and against Michael Arcuri, publishing the same old cut and pasted material. That shows you how unintelligent the whole Google bomb concept is - the results usually take at least a week to affect Google searches, even when they're successful. A week from now, the election is over.

    Of course, the real race is already over. Unless one of the candidates is photographed biting the head off a bat, perceptions aren't going to change in the next five days. Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier will be working on getting their voter turnout machines going, and will make a few stops here and there, going through the motions.

    Don't expect any fireworks. Nothing to do now but to vote, and then sit back and wait for the results.

    Monday, October 30, 2006

    Help Protect The Vote In The 24th Congressional District

    Whether we plan on voting for Ray Meier, Michael Arcuri, Michael Sylvia or none of the above, I hope that we can all agree that the integrity of the elections process is essential. If we voters cannot trust that the vote on Election Day is being administered fairly, then cannot have confidence in our government. Without that confidence, democracy fails.

    The development and deployment of electronic voting machines that create no verifiable paper record of how votes are cast is undermining voters' confidence in the honesty of the electoral system. It's been proven that electronic voting machines without a verifiable paper backup can be hacked in less than one minute so that fraudulent votes replace the votes that we actually cast - and there's no way to tell that the hack has taken place. What's worse is that these hacks can be designed to spread from machine to machine, much as a computer virus does.

    Given the atmosphere of uncertainty that these developments create, it becomes all the more important that we all be on the lookout for attempts at voter suppression and fraud. Write this number down: 1-888-VOTE-TIP. It's a phone number dedicated to receiving information about criminal attempts to manipulate the electoral system.

    We ought not to descend into paranoia, but there is cause to maintain some suspicion. We may not have the best candidates to choose from in this election, but we should at least be sure that whichever lousy choice wins our seat in the House of Representatives does so fair and square.

    Sunday, October 29, 2006

    Is it really all about the TV ads?

    News about the 24th district race reminds me of the real hype around the Superbowl. It isn't so much who wins that matters, but what happens in the commercials. All the talk about the candidates seems centered around the advertisements they, or their parties, place on television.

    Most prominent of all has been the story of the aftermath of the ridiculous slur by the National Republican Congressional Committee against Michael Arcuri. In a television advertisement, the Republicans accused Mike Arcuri of asking taxpayers to pay for a phone call he made to a phone sex service. The accusation, taken literally, is mostly true, although the call may have been made by an aide to Arcuri and not Arcuri himself. However, it became clear many weeks ago that the call was a mistake which lasted less than a minute, and then the correct phone call to the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services phone number, which had just one different digit, was made. The charge for the mistaken phone call was just $1.25 - not exactly enough to break a budget.

    The story about this TV ad from the Republicans has made the national news, with coverage on national radio, television, and even in newspapers clear across the continent. Why? People read and watch stories about sex.

    No story about the policy positions that relate the important decisions Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier would make representing us in Congress has received anything like this kind of coverage. Why? Most people don't read and watch stories about the public policy measures and oversight that constitute the real work of Congress.

    People these days tend to regard congressional campaigns in the same way that they regard celebrity news shows like Entertainment Tonight. They look for news that indicates the personalities of the candidates instead of looking for information about the accomplishments and policy agendas of the candidates. Campaigns are treated as personal dramas rather than political discussions.

    This dynamic is similar to what motivates most of our decisions. Whether we're buying a car or a computer, we're driven less by what we need than by the fantasy storylines we create in our heads about how these things will fit into our lives.

    Television advertisements for congressional candidates like Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier appeal to us because they provide us with quick and easy codes for understanding who the candidates are without having to bother trying to understand the substance of what the candidates stand for. By coming to an emotional understanding of who the candidates are, we indirectly come to understand who we are ourselves.

    The emotional storyline of the phone sex line advertisement appeals to people even after they know the facts of the case, because it tells voters something that they are ready to believe. The advertisement tells voters that rampant, promiscuous sex is threatening their families, and that the plainly sexless Ray Meier will protect them from the threat. The commercial isn't really about the phone sex call at all. It's about people's sexual and social insecurities.

    The reason so much of the news coverage is about candidates' advertisements on television is that it's in those ads that the greatest emotional power is displayed. The combination of visual, audio and linguistic cues combine to great effect.

    That people should be swayed by such messages is part of human nature. However, there's another part of human nature that these TV ads show little regard for: Our intelligent, rational minds.

    It requires strength of will, but we can make decisions based upon what's right for our district and our nation, rather than what feels right. We can attend to candidates' qualifications and ideas about the business of Congress, rather than to the images and suggestions that entertain, flatter, and titillate us.

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    The question about Mike Arcuri and the Military Commissions Act

    In the pragmatic view of politics, perhaps it doesn't matter so much whether what a candidate does is right or wrong as whether what that candidate does helps or hurts the election effort. I don't cotton much to that pragmatic view, myself, but I know that a lot of other people do.

    So, let's consider the impact of Michael Arcuri's support for the Military Commissions Act in a pragmatic sense. Yes, it was a betrayal of Democratic voters for Michael Arcuri to join forces with George W. Bush to support the worst law to come out of the Bush White House in six years, a law that the New York Times called, "a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts." Oh, but let's not consider right and wrong. How did this decision by Arcuri to support the Military Commissions Act impact his election?

    Yesterday, I discussed how Eric Massa, a Democratic candidate in the congressional district next door, who opposed the Military Commissions Act, facing a Republican incumbent, a poverty of national Democratic Party support, and a population that is further toward the right wing than in our district, is doing better than Michael Arcuri in the polls. Today, I want to ask a simple question to shed light on Mike Arcuri's own prospects in the wake of his Military Commissions Act support:

    Is there one single person in New York's 24th congressional district who is now supporting Michael Arcuri because of Arcuri's support of the Military Commissions Act, who did not support Michael Arcuri until Arcuri supported the Military Commissions Act, and who would have voted against Michael Arcuri if Arcuri had opposed the Military Commissions Act?


    If so, name yourself. Is there even one reader out there who fits this category? If not, then Michael Arcuri did not help his campaign by supporting the Military Commissions Act.

    That would make Mike Arcuri not only morally vacant, but an inept politician as well.

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Eric Massa and Michael Arcuri on Military Commissions Act

    One of the only justifications that the Arcuri for Congress campaign has been able to come up with for its support of the Military Commissions Act is the claim that, if Mike Arcuri had not supported the Military Commissions Act, the Republicans would have bashed and battered him with it.

    That claim has always seen a bit absurd to me. I mean, what kind of lawyer is Michael Arcuri, if he cannot defend himself from the criticism that he failed to support a law that puts American soldiers in danger? The Military Commissions Act in fact places American troops in grave peril, because it undercuts the enforcement of the Geneva Conventions worldwide. Now that the United States of America is failing to enforce the Geneva Conventions, thanks to the Military Commissions Act, our current and future enemies have much less incentive to adhere to the Geneva Conventions themselves. American soldiers are now at much greater risk of torture, forced labor, and other forms of abuse when they are captured by rival governments.

    Of course, a little thing like the facts of the actual impact of legislation has never stopped politicians from making extravagant claims. After all, Michael Arcuri supported the Military Commissions Act without even bothering to read it. So, it's not surprising that Arcuri claims that the Republicans would destroy his campaign if he did not support the Military Commissions Act.

    Let us voters not join the politicians in running away from the facts. Let's take a look at a real world comparison to see what would have happened if Michael Arcuri had decided to have a backbone, and take a stand against the Military Commissions Act.

    Over in the 29th congressional district, Democratic congressional candidate Eric Massa has had a more challenging campaign that Michael Arcuri. The seat isn't open. Massa is running against an incumbent Republican. The 29th district's population tends to lean more strongly toward the right wing than our own 24th district.

    And then there's the fact that Eric Massa opposed the Military Commissions Act. If the campaign of Michael Arcuri for Congress were correct in its claims, the Republicans ought to have made mincemeat of Eric Massa. However, that just hasn't happened. In fact, since he opposed the Military Commissions Act, Eric Massa's campaign has become all the stronger.

    In the Constituent Dynamics poll taken in October - after the passage of the Military Commissions Act - Eric Massa is doing better in his district than Michael Arcuri is doing in our district. Eric Massa has a lead that is 3 points greater than Arcuri's lead, in spite of all the additional handicaps that Eric Massa has had to overcome.

    In comparison to the tough campaign Eric Massa has had to fight, Michael Arcuri has had a cakewalk. When Michael Arcuri supported the Military Commissions Act, he stepped in the cake, and tracked it all over the carpet. Voters are rewarding Eric Massa for doing the right thing. Too bad Mike Arcuri just didn't have the guts to do the same.

    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Michael Arcuri Loses Fred Bieling's Support

    I'm not the only Democrat in the 24th District who has rejected Michael Arcuri's campaign for Congress on the basis of Arcuri's support for the Military Commissions Act.

    Fred Bieling, of the Mccs1977 blog writes,

    "After confirming with Mike Arcuri's campaign staff, I hereby immediately drop all support of the Democratic nominee for the New York's 24th Congressional district based on his support for S.3930, the Military commission Act of 2006."

    Bieling did not make his decision to support the congressional campaign of Libertarian Mike Sylvia easily. He writes, "I waited almost a week doing a dance with his campaign over the phone, holding off printing some of the good news about his run, waiting for an explaination for what I'd read."

    I won't tell you how to vote in this election. The truth is that there is no good choice for voters with a conscience and a love of liberty in this election.

    Myself, I'll be voting for none of the above.

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    Arcuri Tries to Weasel on Military Commissions Act

    Michael Arcuri still supports the Military Commissions Act - and it looks like he still hasn't even bothered to read the law - and neither has his campaign manager.

    Arcuri's campaign manager, feeling the heat from local Democrats' anger about Arcuri's support for George W. Bush and the Military Commissions Act sent a message of attempted contrition in which he wrote, "He [Michael Arcuri] would have supported the bill because, while imperfect, it places some important restrictions on this adminstration, and then he would have moved immediately to seek legislation to deal with the Habeas Corpus problem."

    The habeas corpus problem? Is that all that Michael Arcuri and his campaign manager think is wrong with the Military Commissions Act? If that's true, then they definitely have still not bothered to read the text of the law.

    What about the Geneva Conventions problem, for example? Does Michael Arcuri know nothing about that? If you don't believe me that the Military Commissions Act ends enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, fine. You shouldn't believe something just because I say it's true. Go read the text of the Military Commissions Act yourself, and search for the following phrases in italics - oh yes, they're in there.

    The Military Commissions Act gives George W. Bush the unlimited power to engage in de facto amendments to the Geneva Conventions. The text of the law includes the following provision:

    "The President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions"

    Everyone, including Senator Mike Arcuri and his campaign manager, ought to know what this means. President Bush attempts to amend laws all the time by means of such interpretation, through signing statements. President Bush has shown a willingness to interpret a law outlawing torture in such a way that it actually allows him to torture people whenever he wants to. President Bush has in the past interpreted the legislation that makes the Geneva Conventions legally binding in American law in order to claim that the President has the power to apply Geneva Conventions however he wants, or not at all. The Military Commissions Act gives that power to the President when it did not exist before.

    That's one way that the Military Commisions Act ends enforcement of the the Geneva Conventions - by giving the President the power to amend it however he sees fit. Another way that the Military Commissions Act amends the Geneva Conventions is seen in another selection from the law, below:

    "No alien unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by military commission under this chapter may invoke the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights."

    This part of the Military Commissions Act is certainly a dramatic amendment to the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions applies to all people on a battlefield, without distinction between alien and citizen or lawful and unlawful. Well, at least that's how the Geneva Conventions used to work. Now, thanks to the support of Democrats like Mike Arcuri, that is no longer true - not for the United States of America.

    Oh, but it gets worse. If you think that you're safe because you're a citizen, well, you're plain wrong. Read the following additional clause from the Military Commissions Act:

    "In General- No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States is a party as a source of rights in any court of the United States or its States or territories."

    No more Geneva Conventions protections for anybody captured by the United States. Is that what Michael Arcuri stands for, or does he just not know that this provision is in the law?

    I'm guessing Michael Arcuri simply has no clue. When Arcuri and his campaign staff came to Trumansburg, he told the Democrats there that he gave the Military Commissions Act his support without bothering to read it first.

    Supporting Republican legislation without even reading it beforehand - is that what we deserve in Congress? Hell, no.

    I'm not going to tell you how to vote in this election, because there is no good choice. You follow your conscience. But, 24th district Democrats, don't let the Oneida County Democratic Committee tell you that this is the best Democratic choice that was available for 2006.

    Give them a piece of your mind, and demand a better Democratic candidate for 2008 - whether Arcuri wins this year or not.

    Thursday, October 19, 2006

    What Kind of Fools Does Ray Meier Take Us For?

    Look, I'm not fond of Michael Arcuri. I think he's a rotten leader, a rotten Democrat, and even a rotten politician. But I think Michael Arcuri is going to win this election, in spite of how rotten he is.

    Here's why: As rotten as Michael Arcuri is, he at least has the brains not to try to tell us that the sun is shining when we can see that it's raining. Arcuri won't tell us it's July when there's snow on the ground. Arcuri has at least enough sense to not try to tell us we're buying a Formula One racecar as he's handing us a tricycle.

    Ray Meier? He doesn't even have that much sense.

    What kind of fools does Ray Meier think we are? Does he think we don't know the reality that's staring us in the face? 73 American soldiers are dead just halfway through this month. A full score may be dead just this week, and as the Republicans keep on sending our soldiers into the middle of the chaos, it only gets worse, and worse, and worse.

    All this, and what does Ray Meier have to say about Iraq? "Our military and diplomatic forces on the ground can help the Iraqis establish a stable and free Iraq," he says. Just a nip here and a tuck there, and everything will be just fine, Ray Meier says. Don't worry about our American soldiers, he says. Everything's going just swell.

    That's bullshit. You and I know it. Ray Meier knows it too.

    But, will Ray Meier say so? No, he's more concerned with winning the election.

    I can't stand the idea of Mike Arcuri serving in Congress, but even I can see that Ray Meier takes us all for fools.

    Ray Meier, Mark Foley, and Mike Arcuri All Wrapped Up WIth a Kinky Bow

    It's time to talk about the biggest campaign issue of this election season: The Mark Foley sexy email homoerotic page-turning scandal. It's the most policy-free issue of the year, and so, naturally, the mainstream media have been talking about it non-stop.

    Michael Arcuri is certainly doing his part to keep that talk going. The Arcuri for Congress campaign has been doing its darndest to connect Ray Meier to Mark Foley, and drag Meier down to defeat with the ghosts of congressional pages past hanging around Meier's neck all the way. Mike Arcuri complains that Ray Meier took donations from Republican organizations that in turn took donations from Mark Foley.

    It's a two-degrees-of-separation thing. Though Mark Foley works in the Congress in Florida and in Washington D.C., and Ray Meier works as a state legislator in Utica and Albany, we're supposed to come to the conclusion that somehow, Ray Meier is partially to blame for Mark Foley's sexual advances on vulnerable teenage boys.

    By these rules of guilt-by-association, Michael Arcuri has some answering of his own to do. You see, just before the scandal broke and Mark Foley resigned from Congress, he voted in favor of the Military Commissions Act.

    You remember the Military Commissions Act, don't you? Sure you do. It was signed into law just two days ago. It revokes habeas corpus, ends enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, legalizes torture, gives the President power to imprison anyone that he declares to be an "enemy", trashes our justice system by creating an alternative system of kangaroo courts, and gives legal amnesty to war criminals. In short, the Military Commissions Act is even more kinky than Mark Foley.

    Now, as Mike Arcuri has drawn the connection between Ray Meier and Mark Foley through a money trail, let's draw the connection between Michael Arcuri and Mark Foley through the legislative trail.

    Political equation #1:

    A. Mark Foley donated money to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
    B. Ray Meier accepted money from the National Republican Congressional Committee.
    C. Therefore, Ray Meier accepted "tainted Foley money"!

    Political equation #2:
    A. Mark Foley supported the Military Commissions Act.
    B. Michael Arcuri supported the Military Commissions Act.
    C. Therefore, Michael Arcuri supports a tainted Mark Foley agenda!

    What, you think that this argument isn't fair? If you reject one political equation, you have to reject the other. They use the same twisted logic, after all... Or do you kind of like it twisted?

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri Follow Boehlert's Bad Record on Liberty

    This election is all about retiring incumbent Republican Sherwood Boehlert, or so the two major party candidates would have us believe.

    Michael Arcuri says that he will be a "Boehlert Democrat" - a Democrat who will vote like a Republican.

    Arcuri's opponent, Republican Ray Meier, gives out broad boasts comparing himself to Sherwood Boehlert, such as the article that crows, "State Sen. Raymond Meier is the perfect candidate to replace U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, according to Vice President Dick Cheney." Dick Cheney's word isn't exactly as good as gold these days, of course. No, to be more accurate, Dick Cheney's word is as good as lead.

    So, Arcuri and Meier have come to praise Boehlert before they bury him. That's an improvement on Julius Caesar, I guess. But what does the promise from Arcuri and Meier to follow Sherwood Boehlert suggest on the centrally important issue of defending American freedoms?

    It suggests that we're in for trouble, no matter who wins.

    The Progressive Patriots' Oath of Office Index gives Sherwood Boehlert only a 29 percent approval rating on voting to protect American liberty over the last two years.

    Sherwood Boehlert voted to renew the Patriot Act, with almost all of its big government abuses against the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. The government's got your flight records, your medical records your credit card records, your telephone records, your Internet records, and it's putting all these together into one big database - Total Information Awareness reborn, thanks to Boehlert's vote. Boehlert specifically refused to cosponsor legislation that would have prevented government agents from using the Patriot Act to search through your library records and bookstore receipts.

    Congressman Boehlert also voted to block an amendment that would have protected religious liberty. Instead of supporting that amendment, Boehlert supported a measure that would have allowed employees of programs funded by the federal government to be fired for no other reason than that they don't belong to the same religion as their boss. No kidding.

    Worst of all, Sherwood Boehlert voted in favor of the terrible Military Commissions Act, which ends enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, revokes habeas corpus, gives legal amnesty to war criminals, and creates a system of law that allows the President to either throw people in prison with no trial at all or to subject people to show trials with legal standards that are so low that they may fairly be compared to the Salem witch trials.

    That's not the kind of record on American freedom that either Ray Meier or Michael Arcuri should be trying to replicate. Yet, Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri don't seem to worry about a little old thing like freedom very much. They both support the Military Commissions Act, just like Sherwood Boehlert.

    That's a shame, because as the Progressive Patriots point out, the oath of office for everyone entering the House of Representatives commits the person to protect and defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic. Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri seem more interested in defening their ability to get elected.

    Is their shared disdain for the freedoms guaranteed us in the Bill of Rights likely to help them in the polls on Election Day? If so, that's a sign that the voters in this district have drifted as far away from a true love of freedom as Sherwood Boehlert has.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    Mike Arcuri and Ray Meier on Constituent Services

    I've spent the last few days trying to wash the accumulated filth from the Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri campaigns off of me, and today comes the signing of the hideous Military Commissions Act into law - which both Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier support.

    The Democratic Party leadership in our district has done nothing for us on this law. Not a peep of resistance. The Republicans have given a deep bow of gratitude in respect for the passing of our liberty, gone away...

    And so, this day of disgusting weakness from both Democrats and Republicans alike leads me to examine one of the most important issues of this campaign: Constituent services.

    Oh, I'm not talking about the nasty kind of constituent services that involve getting a job for your kid in return for writing big checks for the campaign of the victor. That's clearly motivated loyalists in the campaigns of both Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier from the start.

    I'm talking about genuine constituent services: Meeting with constituents, listening to their concerns, and doing something about it.

    First, let's get something straight about what part of this district is being represented in Congress: Oneida County. If you live outside of Oneida County, don't bet on getting many constituent services, whether it's Michael Arcuri or Ray Meier who gets elected to Congress. From the start, this race has been obsessively focused on the northeastern corner of the district, to the neglect of the rest of the district.

    Both Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier say that they'll provide lots and lots and lots of constituent services. Talk is cheap. Let's look at their actual performance working with the public as candidates.

    Ray Meier has shown a lot more openness in general, especially when it comes to dealing with the press. Michael Arcuri's campaign has refused contacts from people in the media wanting to ask questions about Arcuri's position on the issues. Throughout the campaign Michael Arcuri's strategy has been to say as little as possible, and to run an underground campaign that avoids scrutiny.

    The attitude from the Arcuri for Congress campaign seems to have been that the less contact Mike Arcuri has with voters outside social circle of the Democratic Party Committees throughout the district, the better. Michael Arcuri's campaign shut down the discussion board on his campaign web site when constituents started asking questions that made Arcuri feel uncomfortable. Expect the same from Mike Arcuri if he's elected to Congress.

    Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri both have chosen not to publicize their campaign appearances beforehand, relying on their party faithful to bring only voters who are likely to be supportive to campaign events. This approach to campaigning is disgustingly reminiscent of President Bush's tour to promote his scheme to destroy Social Security - only Republican-friendly audience members were informed of the scheduled stops ahead of time. Ray Meier has never had a campaign calendar up. Michael Arcuri? Oh, he had a campaign event calendar up, but he never put any events on it.

    The Arcuri for Campaign's web development team at Quadsimia has been so pathetically clumsy that they still have a link to the campaign event calendar at the bottom of the front page of the campaign web site. Hint to anyone who wants to run for Congress in the future: Above all else, do not hire Quadsimia! They've screwed up the Arcuri for Congress web site from day one. In general, neither Mike Arcuri nor Ray Meier seem very aware or very interested in online outreach, which is a shame, given the terrible, stretched-out geography of our district. Remembering Ray Meier's prolonged "Hello World!" debut online still brings winces from area Republicans. Both Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri seem more comfortable in the old era of communications by fax, mimeograph and written memoranda, not at all equipped to work with a district that's economic hopes lie in no small part in the promises of the geographic neutrality of work in the online world.

    Both Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri are more connected to the national political party structures than they are to constituencies here in the district - with the exception of Utica politics, which looks like a really dirty pool. Count on both Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri to vote more according to the demands of the political action groups and party congressional campaign committees than the needs of us here in New York's 24th district.

    Michael Arcuri's campaign does have this to say in its favor: It has taken fewer political action committee donations than Ray Meier's campaign. Michael Arcuri's campaign has taken just 36% of its donations from PACs, while Ray Meier's campaign has taken a whopping 52% of its dollars from PACS. Of course, many of the PAC donations that Arcuri has taken are rather sinister - the big check written from Joseph Lieberman's right wing New Democrats is a pretty big stinker, for example.

    All in all, don't expect much in the way of genuine constituent services from either Ray Meier or Michael Arcuri - they know where their bread gets buttered, and it isn't in your kitchen. Expect a lot of bluster about jobs and developments, but little accessibility for real discussions with your new representative, no matter who wins.

    Neither candidate has shown much propensity for respect for the voters in this election, whether it comes to Michael Arcuri's failure to even show up at the agricultural issues debate and insults hurled at the NAACP or to Ray Meier's thousand-dollar-per-plate dinners.

    What Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri wants to tell you is that neither of them would have much power as a freshman member of the House of Representatives. We'll experience many years of a lean pork diet here in the 24th district, until someone can establish seniority, and start a dole of the big bucks for their cronies.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    Vote Your Conscience - Arcuri, Meier or Sylvia

    I've taken a day off to reflect on the complicated dynamics of this election, and come to one obvious conclusion: My views don't represent the views of the majority of the Democrats in this district.

    To put it more plainly, my views don't represent the views of 98 percent of the Democrats in this district.

    That disappoints me greatly, of course, but then, I don't think that my disappointment alone will persuade 24th District Democrats to give a damn about the issues that I care about.

    Someone left a message here pointing out that I really may not belong in the Democratic Party. I'm inclined to agree, at this point, but won't make a final decision about that until after this election is through.

    I don't feel the need to take back anything I've said about Michael Arcuri. I think he's a terrible candidate with an agenda of self-promotion that will lead him to betray Democratic voters here whenever he thinks that he needs to and that he can get away with it. Given the reaction of Democratic voters here to his support for the Military Commissions Act, I'd say that he'll be able to get away with it most of the time. I'm furious at Michael Arcuri about that, but even more, I'm furious at the Democrats in our district about that.

    But, Ray Meier is also a terrible candidate, and he runs to support a political party that is even worse than the Democratic Party. To write all the reasons Ray Meier is a terrible candidate in a single article would be impossible. Let me just summarize. Ray Meier: Very, very, bad.

    The truth is, I admire a lot of what Mike Sylvia has to say. But, am I a Libertarian? No. I believe in the power of people to come together to do good things. That means I still bellieve in the goodness of government, at least when we have a more enlightened citizenry than we do at present.

    So, where does that leave this election? The two major candidates support an unforgivable law that takes away the very foundations of our freedom. Both of them believe that they can support that law without consequences, and they're both right. After all, CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News aren't covering the story of that law, and if it's not on TV, I don't think it exists as an issue in the minds of most Americans. Other issues have more sex appeal. Liberty, fair trials, and that funny Latin phrase habeas corpus are just too plain musty for most people here to get worked up about.

    So, I've done what I can to bring the issue of the Military Commissions Act to light here. It must return as a vital issue, but it doesn't stand a chance now, when 30 second TV spots dominate the political debate. On this issue, I have this last warning: There are very dark times ahead for our nation if we do not repeal this law, and do so quickly.

    Where does that leave this blog? Neutral and adrift of any political party structure - pre-independent, you might say. I don't support any of the candidates, but honestly, candidates are not what I've been most interested in writing about in this campaign anyway.

    There are more important things than candidates. They're called issues, and they persist as important things even when candidates aren't out in our district using them as selling points.

    I'll spend the rest of the short time left in this campaign season writing about the issues other than the Military Commissions Act, and where the two candidates who stand a snowball's chance in hell of getting elected stand on those issues.

    I'll stop trying to tell anyone what to do with this election, because the truth is that there are no good choices. You decide which issues matter to you. You decide how you will vote. We may not have habeas corpus, and half the Bill of Rights may have been trashed, but at least we still have the vote... so long as electronic voting machines haven't been tampered with.

    Democracy is all about this basic concept: We may make a rotten mess out of our country, but at least it's our mess.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Ghosts of What Could Have Been

    This morning's news reflects a huge tragedy in Iraq, and a smaller one here in New York's 24th Congressional District. The team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University led by Les Roberts has released the results of a new study to update its 2004 study of deaths of Iraqis resulting from the American invasion and occupation. The new study finds that approximately 650,000 Iraqis have been killed because of the war the Americans started there. When the margin of error is taken into account, the reality could actually anywhere between 426,369 and 793,663 dead.

    So, let's be conservative and take the low estimate. Even at that number, this is an unprecedented slaughter that's taking place in Iraq. That's right - unprecedented. It is estimated that Saddam Hussein's government, over the space of 20 years, killed 290,000 Iraqis. That means that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has Saddam Hussein beat by 136,369 victims - at a minimum.

    For you to imagine the impact this is having on Iraqis, reflect on this: The equivalent death rate from such an invasion of the United States would result in 4 million dead Americans.

    This, and the Republicans are still going on about how September 11 changed everything. September 11 resulted in only 3,000 dead. That was a very bad day, but it was just one day, and it's only a grain of sand compared to the violence that's going on in Iraq.

    For that violence, every American who did nothing to stand against the invasion of Iraq in the months before the war in 2002 and 2003 is responsible. That includes Ray Meier and that includes Michael Arcuri. Neither one lifted a finger to try to stop the war.

    Our election this year could have been different. Instead of having a choice between unworthy candidate Michael Arcuri and worthy candidate Ray Meier, we could have had a choice between a strong Democrat and Ray Meier.

    If Rahm Emanuel and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) had not come into our congressional district to interfere and push out all of Michael Arcuri's competitors, and if our Democratic County Committees had not so eagerly helped Emanuel do it, we could have had the time to properly evaluate the worthiness of both Mike Arcuri and Les Roberts. We Democratic voters could have had a choice.

    We could have had an intelligent Democrat. We could have had a Democrat who actually knows something about policy issues. We could have had a Democrat who is motivated by trying to make America a better place, not by his own ambition.

    We could have had a Democrat capable of talking for himself, not just repeating the talking points produced by the DCCC like a puppet. We could have had real debates based on substance. We could have had a Democrat that we believe in, not a Democrat that we have to apologize for.

    Instead, we got no choice. Michael Arcuri was forced upon us. And now, he's going around the district talking about what a great thing the Military Commissions Act is.

    Now, the rallying cry of Democrats across the 24th district is, "If we elect Michael Arcuri to Congress this year, at least we can get rid of him in 2008!"

    The members of the Democratic County Committees in our district ought to resign their posts in December out of shame for allowing things to get this bad.

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Independents Angry at Arcuri Over Military Commissions Act

    The following is the reaction of Jodi, a political independent in the 24th District, to Michael Arcuri's support for the Military Commissions Act:

    (The Military Commissions Act is a new law soon to be signed into effect by President Bush that revokes habeas corpus, ends enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, gives legal amnesty to war criminals, legalizes torture, gives the President power to imprison people without criminal charge, and sets up kangaroo courts with absurd rules designed to railroad defendants into conviction without a fair trial.)

    "Here is a Democrat, trying to say that electing a Democrat to Congress will make a difference. And yet he supports torture? Who needs Democrats like these?

    Now, is he really a Republican? Is he a sicko? Does he hate freedom and the rule of law? Does he think the Geneva Conventions are quaint like the rest of his ilk?

    Probably not. Instead, he is trying to appeal to independent voters. It's like he thinks he has the left fringe of the Democratic Party in the bag, so he is going for independents in a district that is sixty percent registered Republican (I think; I didn't look it up).

    So, what is an Independent? Paul made a great point while we were at dinner last night. He said that Arcuri's fantasy of an independent is of a someone in the middle. Arcuri presumes an Independent is the split in the hair that separates Republicans from Democrats. This is a truly stupid thing to think. Why presume Independents are there? Why not guess that they are actually Independent because no party represents their views? And, why not try to give these people a reason for voting? A reason grounded in political difference, political will, an opposition to, why not, FASCISM???"

    The point Jodi makes is one that I've made before. Political independents are often not at all centrist or moderate in their political opinions. They're often looking for strong, principled, intelligent voices and regard the Republicans and Democrats as disturbingly similar: Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

    When Michael Arcuri gave his support to George W. Bush's Military Commissions Act, he didn't just make Democrats angry. He earned the wrath of independents like Jodi too. These are independents that he cannot win the election without...

    ... unless Mike Arcuri's strategy is to swerve so far to the right that he'll earn the votes of a group of Republicans along with Democrats too loyal to the name of Democrat to notice the difference.

    Post Script:
    Writer Adam Elkus reacts to what Jodi has written, saying, "It's depressing that we've gotten to the point where opposing torture and the revoking of habeus corpus automatically makes you a 'fringe leftist.'"

    I agree, Adam.

    Monday, October 09, 2006

    Another Voice on the Military Commissions Act

    You've heard me talk enough about the catastrophic impact upon American liberty of the Military Commissions Act, a new law that both major candidates, Republican Ray Meier and Democrat Michael Arcuri, say that they support and would have voted for, if they were now in Congress.

    It sounds too horrific to be true: Revoking habeas corpus and the Geneva Conventions, legalizing torture, allowing the President to imprison whomever he wants without explanation, show trials at which the defendant cannot even see the evidence used against him. How could Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri support such a law, you're probably asking yourself. You may well conclude that it's just not possible, and that I must be making it all up. After all, the TV news networks aren't talking about it any more, ever since that Mark Foley scandal came up...

    I'm resolved to try to bring this issue to the attention of voters any way that I can, until either Ray Meier or Mike Arcuri renuciates their support for the law. But, I'll give you a break from my voice. For the next few days, I'll bring you what others are saying about the new law, adding their voices to mine in the hopes that readers will pay some attention to this historic moment that has grown so dreadfully quiet.

    Today, I'll quote what Robyn Blumner, who writes for the St. Petersburg Times, has to say about the Military Commissions Act that Arcuri and Meier support:

    When the people’s representatives collude to collapse the separation of powers into one omnipotent executive, our nation becomes defined by that act...

    Bush will be free to determine what abuses by interrogators do not rise to the level of “humiliating and degrading treatment.” Then detainees will be barred from court to challenge that treatment.

    The law is a true abomination. It is our fault. We let this happen. We allowed them to draw the false dichotomy between security and freedom. We accepted Bush’s Torture Nation and his untouchable island prison...

    Americans no longer understand what liberty means. They think it has something to do with tax-free shopping and their right never to be offended by others’ opinions.

    E Pluribus Unum be damned. Here’s America’s new motto: If we can’t pronounce your name, we don’t care what happens to you. Now let us get back to our Happy Meals.

    Is Ray Meier Worse Than Michael Arcuri?

    A Democrat reader left a comment here today, asking if I could please get back to writing about the problems with Ray Meier - the Republican opponent to Michael Arcuri. As I've made plain in the past, I'll get back to criticizing the many bad things about Ray Meier - but only after Michael Arcuri repudiates his support for the Military Commissions Act.

    I want to explain why.

    The essential question in this matter is whether whether, in spite of Michael Arcuri's support for the Military Commissions Act, Ray Meier is still a more dangerous choice than Michael Arcuri. My answer to that question is that Michael Arcuri is, in fact, more dangerous than Ray Meier, if you understand where the most pressing danger lies.

    Does Ray Meier present a danger through his sure contribution to a Republican majority in Congress? Yes. However, Michael Arcuri presents an even worse danger: Contributing to a Democratic Party that gives in to the worst aspects of the Republican agenda.

    There Republican Party is completely out of reach for reform. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is the subject of an intense battle. That battle is over the ideological identity of the Democratic Party.

    One group, led by the likes of Harold Ford Jr. and Joseph Lieberman, wants the Democrats to be like the Republican Party - and believes, in fact, that progressive idealism is a problem. They'll do whatever it takes to win, including going along with legislation that rips the Constitution to tatters.

    The other group, led by the likes of Senator Russ Feingold, believes that the Democratic Party has to be different from the Republican Party. They want the Democratic Party to stand up for basic progressive values such as keeping the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution intact. These Democrats are not willing to sacrifice those freedoms in order to win - because they regard such a victory as the most terrible kind of loss.

    Michael Arcuri is in the first group.

    I'm in the second.

    I am no more willing to vote for Michael Arcuri just because he's a Democrat than I would be to vote for Joseph Lieberman just because he's a Democrat.

    If Lieberman and Arcuri's group of Democrats win,and convert the Democratic Party to their vision, the Republicans will be out of power, but it won't make a lick of difference, because the Democratic Party will have become just like the Republican Party - and Americans will no longer have a real choice. The only thing we'll be able to choose between is right wing political party #1 and right wing political party #2. Such a result would be much worse even than the present circumstance, which is to have a minority party that stands up for what's right at least some of the time.

    I don't favor having the Republicans retain control of Congress, but I favor the Democrats losing their progressive political identity even more.

    This choice is especially important in elections such as the one here in New York's 24th congressional district this year. Our Democratic candidate, Michael Arcuri, has joined forces with George W. Bush himself, to support the most unjust legislation in America since the South's Jim Crow laws.

    It's not a great thing to withhold a vote from Michael Arcuri. However, it's better than the alternative, which is to have a morally corrupt Democrat representing our district. Mike Arcuri would not represent us Democrats well, but if he's elected this year, he'll become the default establishment Democratic pick in our district in every election to follow, and it could be decades before we have even the hope of a Democratic primary again.

    Are you willing to have Michael Arcuri represent the name of Democrat for our district for the next 20 years?

    Michael Arcuri Issue Advertisement: On Liberty

    Bloggers love to comment on the advertisements that congressional candidate make to promote their campaigns - as if it's the advertisements that really matter. Oh well, if you can't beat them, join them, right?

    So, here I am joining them - with a twist. Instead of commenting on the insipid and patronizing advertisements created by both Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri, I'll create my own Michael Arcuri advertisement, seen below.

    Oh, it's not an advertisement for Michael Arcuri. Rather, it's an advertisement for American liberty, asking you and Mike Arcuri to give a damn about it again.

    By the way, FEC watchdogs, it's not an advertisement for Ray Meier either. I oppose Ray Meier's campaign as much as I oppose Michael Arcuri's (Ray Meier says he'll supports the Military Commissions Act too). Consider it an issue ad by an independent voice unaffiliated with any campaign - namely, me.

    Sunday, October 08, 2006

    Why the Military Commissions Act Trumps All Other Issues

    Some Democrats are having a hard time understanding why I, a 24th district Democrat, am opposing both the campaign of Democratic congressional candidate Michael Arcuri and the campaign of Republican candidate Ray Meier.

    Although I disagree with Michael Arcuri on many issues, and am generally concerned with Michael Arcuri's arrogant attitude toward voters, my oppositon to Mike Arcuri is ultimately based on one issue: The decision by Michael Arcuri to support George W. Bush's Military Commissions Act.

    The Military Commssions Act is more important than any other issue in this campaign, because the Military Commissions Act is a grave threat to America's Democracy. The Military Commissions Act gives the power to imprison people without any official legal recognition of their imprisoned status - because the act takes away habeas corpus protections. The Military Commissions Act also sets up outrageously unfair standards for criminal conviction (including the ability to start a trial before a full investigation of the alleged crime has even been committed).

    In practice, the Military Commissions Act will give the President of the United States the powers of a dictator. When the President of the United States can imprison people just because he says that they've committed crimes, Americans are no longer free to speak out against the President without fear of being thrown into prison for doing so.

    Maybe the President will use this new power, and maybe he won't. The trouble with the Military Commissions Act is that we'll never know if the President is using his new power - because the law also allows for the imprisonments, torture, and convictions according to new low standards of justice to remain secret from the American people forever. Once this new law goes into effect, we will never know when the President is using his new powers. People could start disappearing into the secret prisons run by the President without us ever finding out about it.

    This makes the Military Commissions Act a more important issue than any other - more important than the Iraq War, more important than the environment, and more important than a woman's right to choose. The reason is that with the Military Commissions Act, we will have no assurance of an ability to freely counter the President on any of these issues. Without the ability to exercise free dissent, all issues are at risk.

    To promote Democratic issues, we first have to have the freedom to do so without fear of punishment for our dissent from the Republican position. The Military Commissions Act makes it possible for the Republican government to punish us for dissent. Therefore, the Military Commissions Act must take priority over all other issues.

    Michael Arcuri either doesn't understand this, or he doesn't care. Michael Arcuri's support for the Military Commissions Act is a mistake of the highest order. To preserve our right to dissent, we need Democrats to stand united against the Military Commissions Act. For that reason, we need to oppose Democrats like Michael Arcuri who defect from the Democratic Party mainstream and support the Military Commissions Act.

    Saturday, October 07, 2006

    Michael Arcuri Wants To Make Beatings Legal

    Democrats, how far are you willing to go in supporting Michael Arcuri?

    How about this far:

    "One such story Bo told involved him taking a detainee by the head and hitting the detainee's head into the cell door. Bo said that his actions were known by others."

    "From the whole conversation, I understood that striking detainees was a common practice. Everyone in the group laughed at the others' stories of beating detainees."

    These statements are from a legal affadavit signed by a member of the United States Marine Corps. That Marine alleges that she sat among a group of guards from the American gulag at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and listened to them brag about how they abused prisoners there.

    Michael Arcuri says that this kind of treatment of prisoners should be legal.

    Are you with him on that, Democrats?

    The Military Commissions Act legalizes the beating of prisoners. The new law allows the use of extreme pain against prisoners, so long as it doesn't threaten to kill them. The new law also prevents any prisoners of war from gaining protection under the Geneva Conventions, which explicitly forbid this sort of thing. Until the Military Commissions Act came along, the Geneva Conventions held the power of United States law. Now, they might as well exist.

    Until last week, this group of guards would have been considered war criminals. Now, the Military Commissions Act gives them retroactive amnesty from prosecution. As soon as the President of the United States signs the Military Commissions Act into law, the guards will be legally untouchable, and that means that, in Guantanamo Bay, anything goes.

    Is that what we want for America?

    Michael Arcuri says it's what he wants.

    Will you give it your endorsement by casting your vote for Arcuri?

    Michael Arcuri: A DA who supports the MCA - scary

    Over in Oneida County, Michael Arcuri is in the awkward position of having the NAACP being so angry that it has withheld its support for his congressional campaign. In large part, the NAACP's opposition to the Arcuri for Congress campaign has to do with many allegations of police brutality and a lack of fair trials under Michael Arcuri's watch as Oneida County District Attorney.

    Now, I'm not a resident of Oneida County, so I don't know what the truth is about these allegations. I can talk about the perception of this problem, however - and when Michael Arcuri decided to declare his support for George W. Bush's pro-torture, anti-freedom Military Commissions Act, boy did Mike Arcuri make the perception of this problem worse.

    Put two and two together, now. As District Attorney, Michael Arcuri has been accused of using unfair and dishonest tactics to get people convicted. Michael Arcuri has also been blamed for excessive brutality in several arrests.

    How do you think it looks, now that Michael Arcuri has endorsed a new law that legalizes torture as a tool for law enforcement interrogations? How do you think it looks, now that Michael Arcuri has endorsed a new law that destroys the constitutional standards that ensure a fair trial?

    I don't know if the accusations against Michael Arcuri are accurate, but I do know this: Michael Arcuri's support for George W. Bush's Military Commissions Act makes these accusations against Arcuri a bit more credible.

    By supporting the Military Commissions Act, Michael Arcuri proved that he's the kind of guy who thinks that torturing criminal suspects and interfering with the procedures that guarantee a fair trial is a good idea.

    Think about this, Oneida County. Is that really the kind of guy you want serving as your District Attorney? Is that the kind of guy that should have the responsibility of prosecuting you if you're accused of a crime?

    Trust Michael Arcuri to do the right thing? No, I don't think so.

    Friday, October 06, 2006

    How Many Arcuri Democrats Turned Out For Protests Yesterday?

    There were protests against Bush and the Republican agenda across the nation yesterday. I went to a demonstration where I'm working - in Chicago.

    So, I'm just curious...

    All you Democrats who say that you don't like how Michael Arcuri has joined forces with George W. Bush to support the pro-torture anti-freedom Military Commissions Act, did any of you bother to attend one of the gatherings?

    Have you actually done anything to speak out against the new low standards for liberty and justice in America?

    Arcuri Supporters Should Thank Me

    Democrats who still support Michael Arcuri, in spite of Arcuri's move away from the mainstream of the Democratic Party to embrace George W. Bush and the Republican agenda of torture, unrestrained presidential power, and the disintegration of the Bill of Rights, say that Arcuri had no choice but to support the Military Commissions Act.

    These Democrats say that Michael Arcuri had to support the Military Commissions Act because the voters of the 24th congressional district like the law. They say that voters here appreciate the legalization of torture, the end to enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, the withdrawal of habeas corpus rights, and the institution of the power of arbitrary imprisonment by the President of the United States.

    Well, if that's really true, then why are these Arcuri supporters so angry with me for pointing out that Michael Arcuri supports these measures.

    If the voters of the 24th congressional district really support these attacks on America's freedoms, then Arcuri supporters ought to be coming here to thank me. After all, if they're right about our district's voters, then every time I write the truth that Michael Arcuri supports torture, I should be winning him more voters and helping his campaign.

    Yet, Michael Arcuri's Democratic supporters aren't thanking me. They're coming here and telling me time after time that I'm making Michael Arcuri look bad by pointing out that he is on the record supporting revoking habeas corpus, legalizing torture, and abandoning the Geneva Conventions.

    The way they write, you'd think that these positions are liabilities for Michael Arcuri. Why, you might even suspect that these Arcuri Democrats actually believe that 24th district voters are upset at Mike Arcuri for supporting George W. Bush and the Military Commissions Act.

    Will these Arcuri Democrats please make up their minds? Either the people love the Military Commissions Act and I'm helping the Arcuri campaign, or the people hate the Military Commissions Act and I'm doing the Arcuri campaign great harm.

    So which is it, Arcuri supporters?