Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bruce Tytler on War

This morning, I received some information from the Bruce Tytler campaign. It's not as much information as I'd like, but it's a start. Here's a tidbit from Tytler's materials, regarding his attitude toward war:

"We must ensure that our armed forces get the resources that they need to win the war on terrorism – but we should not be illegally spying on American citizens and we should not be giving tax breaks to the wealthy while we’re at war and working class kids are protecting us.

But let us remember that the war on terrorism is not the same as the war in Iraq. It’s Bin Laden we’re after and we need to refocus on that goal. We will win this war against the terrorists who would shed American blood and destroy our way of life. But we will not surrender our civil liberties in the process."

These paragraphs require a little bit of unpacking. Here's what I can make out from them:

- Tytler wants to give the military the resources it needs How much is that? Does Tytler support the present budget which dramatically increases military spending even while drastically cutting the kind of domestic spending that makes America a great place to live?

- Tytler says we should not be illegally spying on American citizens Which kinds of spying against Americans does Tytler regard as illegal? The National Security Agency wiretapping and email-reading warrantless program? How about the FBI and Pentagon programs to spy against anti-war protesters? How about Bush White House efforts to grab search engine data from companies like Yahoo and America Online? What about the Total Information Awareness program, which, according to a report from the National Journal, is still operational within the NSA?

- Tytler believes tax cuts for wealthy Americans should not take place while we are fighting a war Does Tytler think we should have tax breaks for the wealthy when we're at peace?

- Tytler thinks that the war against terrorism is not the same as the war in Iraq Okay, then, just what IS the war on terrorism, anyway? Going on 5 years after the start of the war, could we please have some definition of exactly what the war is? I'm talking about defining a specific enemy - not just "terrorists everywhere". How about some specific objectives that can be achieved, instead of just "making America secure"? It's not Bruce Tytler's responsibility to come up with a definition for this dangerously nebulous war all by himself, but it would be nice if he could offer some concrete suggestions.

- Tytler says America needs to refocus on going after Osama Bin Laden How? Is the war over when we capture Bin Laden?

- Bruce Tytler opposes attacks on civil liberties in the name of wartime security Good for him. Does that mean Tytler would vote against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, as it currently exists? What other specific changes to current policy does Bruce Tytler suggest?

I'm not writing all these questions as a way to be harsh to Bruce Tytler. All the candidates need to do a much better job at articulating specific policies. We need to have a deeper, richer level of debate in this congressional campaign.

Guess who it's up to, to make sure that this kind of debate happens?

Nope, it's not the candidates. Candidates will do their best to say just as much as they feel that they need to say on any subject, and no more. Candidates tend to believe that voters just need little reassurances to help them make their choice, and that speaking in depth can do more harm than good.

It's up to us voters to ensure a rich, meaningful debate, by asking questions that demand substantial responses. First and foremost, we need to show up and participate. It the game of democratic politics, we can't allow candidates to be the only players.

Monday, February 27, 2006

New York Liberal Blog Update

Here's an update from the poll on the 24th District Democratic candidates available at New York Liberal.

Mike Arcuri - 1 (4%)
Leon Koziol - 1 (4%)
Les Roberts - 7 (28%)
Bruce Tytler - 16 (64%)

Take this poll with a grain of salt, of course. It's a self-selected poll, first of all, which means that it doesn't offer a representative sample of our district's Democratic voters. Second of all, someone has noted that it's possible for someone to register, vote, log out, register a second identity, and vote again.

Still, if someone is willing to go through that trouble just to vote in favor of their candidate, it's got to be indicative of some kind of strength in voter support for a candidate. Until the next financial filing report, it may be the best sign we can get of what kind of sentiment is truly at work in District 24.

Les Roberts to Visit With Ulysses Democrats March 6

A week from today, Democratic candidate Les Roberts will be meeting with Democrats from the Town of Ulysses at the Town Hall in Trumansburg, at 7:00 PM. I won't be at the meeting myself, as I'll be in California conducting research. Anyone who attends and wants to give details of the event here is welcome to do so.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Going After Bruce Tytler With a Fine-Toothed Comb

Just because there is, in general, lousy newspaper coverage of the Democratic primary race in the 24th District doesn't mean that people are not paying attention. Some people are paying a great deal of attention.

Earlier this month, someone outside the Tytler for Congress campaign let us know that Bruce Tytler filled in the incorrect congressional district on one of the documents sent to the Federal Election Commission as a part of his initial filing (though on other documents, Tytler was correct in identifying this district as the 24th). Now, a mysterious anonymous writer has alerted us to the fact that Bruce Tytler also failed to fill in line 9 on Form 2 for the FEC in that initial filing (Gripping stuff, isn't it?)

Form 2 is the Statement of Candidacy. Line 9 is the declaration of intent to expend personal funds in excess of the threshold amount (I know, I know, hold back your excitement). The FEC has sent a letter to Bruce Tytler letting him know that he has until March 13 to send a completed version of Form 2, including line 9, which can include simply the number 0.00, which is probably what Tytler intended to communicate by leaving the line blank in the first place.

Now, I understand that we need to have competent candidates for Congress. However, I hardly think that leaving a line in a piece of paperwork blank instead of writing in a zero should be a disqualification for office. Having a top-notch i-dotter and t-crosser to run for Congress is not by any sane person's measure the most important issue in this Democratic primary. Competence will be much better judged by each candidate's ability to articulate an appropriate policy agenda and organize supporters to facilitate the communication of that agenda across the district.

Those who believe that these little matters are what really count might also want to start trailing the three serious Democratic candidates to check if their shoes are tied. The rest of us will be paying attention to substance.

To that end, I'll be meeting with Tytler's campaign this week to get a better idea of the kind of campaign they intend to run. I'll also do my darndest to attend a talk being given by Les Roberts this coming Thursday before the Lansing Democrats, at 7:00 PM in the Lansing Community Center.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Was it Tytler, Arcuri or Roberts?

Not too long ago, I wrote about my contact with a representative from one of the 24th District Democratic campaigns, in which the campaign worker expressed fear about seeing that campaign's candidate associated with a local liberal organization. I never identified that campaign worker, or the campaign that he or she is working for, because the issue for me was not the personality of the individual, but rather the widespread phenomenon of Democratic campaigns' rejection of the very liberal grassroots that provides the foundation for their success.

In spite of my refusal to identify this disappointing campaign worker, there has been much speculation and assumption about who the person I was talking about might be, and which campaign that person is affiliated with. For example, the following message came in this morning, from an anonymous reader:

"Tytler now leads in the New York Liberal poll. Which leads us back to the question of whether it was Tytler or Arcuri who you referenced in an earlier blog when talking about a candidate who was afraid to be identified as a liberal. Have you spoken with these two gentlemen lately? Can you clear up that question you left unanswered?"

Now, why would this anonymous reader assume that the campaign worker I talked about is working for Bruce Tytler or Michael Arcuri? Well, the Leon Koziol campaign can clearly be ruled out. It's not even clear that Leon Koziol has a campaign organization, and besides, Koziol has made it clear that he is running as a right winger. But what about the Les Roberts campaign? I'm not going to say one way or the other, but it's just possible that the campaign worker I wrote about is a member of the Les Roberts 2006 team.

I haven't made an endorsement yet, and that's because I don't yet have sufficient information with which to make an endorsement. Mike Arcuri has spoken out on a few issues, but has yet to do a lot of work on specifics. Bruce Tytler has talked about a "brain war", but hasn't made detailed policy positions on important issues public. Neither Tytler nor Arcuri have bothered to get a campaign web site online... and there are mere hours before the $500 incentive for their campaigns to get online is reduced to $400.

Les Roberts has been communicating his positions in good detail to the public for weeks. So far, what I've seen of Les Roberts, I like. That doesn't mean I won't criticize Les Roberts if he says or does something that I disapprove of.

I have offered a mix of praise and criticism for both Arcuri and Tytler, but to be honest, my judgments of them so far are based on mere scraps of information compared to the strong flow of communication from the Les Roberts campaign. I could find myself quite pleased with the campaigns of Michael Arcuri and Bruce Tytler, if only they would make more serious efforts to inform me, and voters like me, about their campaigns.

As candidates like Leon Koziol remind us, just being a Democrat is not enough to earn the support of voters. We've seen too many Democrats in Congress cave in to right wing demands over the last few years to accept all Democrats at face value. We need to know what kind of a Democrat a candidate really is.

We need straight talk from candidates, so let me offer this straight talk of my own: When I decide to endorse a candidate, you'll know it. I will say, "I endorse _____".

Until I make an endorsement, my mind is open. That doesn't mean that I'll give each candidate equal treatment. It means I'll give each candidate the treatment that they merit, as developments dictate.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Oneida County Democrats Ask Arcuri To Stay

I was referred to an interesting little blog yesterday. It relates to Michael Arcuri's campaign for the Democratic nomination for Congress in our district - and the campaign that he ended just a few months ago to be re-elected as District Attorney for Oneida County.

It's called Arcuri Stay Our DA!. As the name suggests, the blog represents what appears to be a growing movement among Oneida County Democrats to encourage Arcuri to drop out of the congressional race, and remain as District Attorney.

The person or persons who write the blog apparently feel that Mike Arcuri has an obligation to Oneida County Democrats to remain in the position to which he was just re-elected. The blog writes that Boehlert must go, but that Oneida County will be thrown into a huge political mess if Arcuri vacates his office to go to Congress.

The blog appreciates the worth of Arcuri as District Attorney, but casts its arguments rather in the language of a wife begging her husband to stay at home instead of running off after another woman. It's a got a point, though perhaps it plays the spurned good woman metaphor a bit much.

The Danger of an Offline Campaign

As of this morning, the campaigns of Michael Arcuri and Bruce Tytler are still running offline, failing to establish any campaign presence on the web.

The danger of such an apathetic approach to online campaigning became clear to me this morning as I was searching for information about the Arcuri for Congress campaign. I ran across what I hoped would be an independent blog entry about Mike Arcuri, but found this garble instead:

"Arcuri plans run for Congress ... It is also important for business people. Rising health care is a huge problem for them. Arcuri has not formerly ... . More on Snoopy Collectibles."

This snippet is blog spam - a piece of online garbage that is hobbled together automatically, by software that scans the web, in order to direct people to ecommerce sites that are of such low worth that they have figured no other way to get traffic. In this piece of blog spam, the words "Snoopy Collectibles" link to some kind of online antiques warehouse.

My point is this: A voter going online to search for information about Michael Arcuri's run for Congress would find this blog spam before they would find Arcuri's web site. By not putting any web site up, Tytler and Arcuri are allowing spammers to have more control over the online identity of their campaigns than they have themselves.

Boehlert, Boehner's Man

A few weeks ago, Sherwood Boehlert voted for John Boehner in the election for a new Republican leader of the House of Representatives. Do you think that he made his choice based on the best interests of the American people and New York State's 24th District?

Well, that's one interpretation - a generous one. Another interpretation is that Sherwood Boehlert was bought off.

In the last three and a half years, Sherwood Boehlert has received 15,000 dollars from The Freedom Project, a political action committee operated on behalf of Congressman Boehner. Three checks for 5,000 dollars each have been written out to Sherwood Boehlert's campaign committee.

That's far more than any individual voter from the 24th District can legally contribute. So, who does Sherwood Boehlert really represent - the citizens of our district, or an out-of-state politician and a political action committee headquartered at 111 C Street in the Southeastern quadrant of Washington DC?

How Much Would it Cost for Arcuri and Tytler to Get It Up?

In response to the special prodding challenge I made to Bruce Tytler and Mike Arcuri earlier today, some have asked me how much it would cost for Tytler and Arcuri to get their web sites up online.

It's a good question, and the answer is quite revealing. Web site costs typically involve two aspects: 1) Domain name registration (Tytler and Arcuri have already done this, securing tytlerforcongress.com and arcuriforcongress.com), and 2) Web site hosting.

Over at Network Solutions, domain name registration costs just $34.99 for one year's domain registration, which is all that a challenger candidate really needs. Other domain registrars offer the service for even less money, but personally, I prefer the Network Solutions interface.

A company called Blue Host offers perfectly good web hosting service for $6.95. That includes everything that a web site needs until it reaches the A-list of the very top web sites around: Blog, discussion board, e-commerce capability, etc.

Round those numbers up and add them together, and you get a whopping big price of $42.000. Bruce Tytler and Michael Arcuri can afford this.

Now, it is true that a good number of congressional campaigns get schnookered by political consultants who convince them that they need to hire a firm to design their web sites. It ain't so, especially when it comes to the introductory form of web site that all campaigns start out with.

We've got a load of intelligent, capable people in our district who know how to design web sites. Arcuri or Tytler could easily find a student at Utica College, SUNY Cortland, or Cornell with all the skills necessary, hungry for experience like working on a congressional campaign. Give the kid some pizza, and you just might be able to negotiate an unpaid internship. $300.00 plus a glowing recommendation would be the most I'd offer for the initial work of getting a good, yet basic, web site up.

For Tytler and Arcuri, getting a campaign web site up is not a matter of money. It's a matter of a little bit of work. We need candidates who are willing to do the work it takes to win. If they're incapable of getting a web site up in a reasonable amount of time, won't else they be capable of?

My challenge grant offer to both Tytler and Arcuri is still on for four more weeks. The contributions that these guys could get from me would easily cover the costs of getting online, so there's no excuse for either of them to wait any longer. One long night of work could get them online. Don't we 24th district Democrats deserve at least that much effort?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Promise and a Prod to the 24th District Democratic Candidates

Look, this whole web site thing is getting silly. It's almost March now, and two of the three serious Democratic candidates for the 24th District seat have yet to get even a simple campaign web site up. Honestly, it's not hard to do. I know that Bruce Tytler and Michael Arcuri have full time jobs that make it hard for them to campaign, but it shouldn't take more than a weekend to set a simple web site that gives basic information about the candidate, provides contact information for those who want to get involved, and has a link that people can use to donate money to the campaign.

There is no good excuse for these candidates to wait so long to develop this basic tool for voter communication. If they're so slow on their feet in the primary campaign, what hope do they have against incumbent Sherwood Boehlert?

This is not the norm for primary campaigns. Over in the Hudson Valley, District 19, there are 5 Democratic candidates for Congress. Each and every one of them has a campaign web site up, and has had a web site up for weeks.

I've been asking the Arcuri for Congress and Tytler for Congress campaigns to get their web sites up for weeks, with no response on their parts. So, now I will add a prod and a promise to my plea.

I have made a 500 dollar donation to the Les Roberts 2006 campaign. That's not an endorsement. It's a reward for being responsible to the voters and getting a web site up.

I'd like to give the same financial reward to the Arcuri and Tytler campaigns, but I can't, because they're not online. There's nothing to reward.

If Bruce Tytler or Michael Arcuri can get their campaign web site online this week, I will send a 500 dollar donation to their campaigns. That's $500 to each campaign, not just 500 dollars split between the two of them.

If Tytler and Arcuri wait until next week to get their web sites up, the reward goes down to 400 dollars. The week after that, it's 300 dollars. The week after that, the reward goes down 200 dollars. For one week after that, I will send 100 dollars.

If Bruce Tytler and Mike Arcuri cannot get their campaign web sites up in that time, they get no money from me at all.

Why am I willing to do this? It's the same reason I write this blog. I want to be represented by a Democrat in the House of Representatives. I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is, and support Democratic candidates who have a chance in hell.

If Bruce Tytler and Mike Arcuri don't get off their behinds and start running like mad, they don't have a chance in hell. This isn't just about capturing the Democratic nomination. It's about taking on a very powerful Republican machine.

You can't jog your way into Congress. You've got to push like hell. Arcuri and Tytler are not pushing right now. They're strolling, and it drives me crazy to watch them acting this way.

The Democrats of the 24th District deserve nothing less than a 100 percent effort. So, Mr. Arcuri and Mr. Tytler, the carrot has been placed in front of you. Now make like good bunnies and run, will you?

Think of it as a challenge grant.

Les Roberts on Fiscal Responsibility

The Republicans in Congress keep on promising fiscal responsibility, but the plain facts show that they are incapable of staying within a budget. Not only does the spending of Republicans exceed income by grotesque amounts, but the Republicans also keep on adding on huge items of supplemental spending to their budgets, even though these supplements cover items that are quite predictable.

Les Roberts has made restoration of fiscal responsibility in the House of Representatives one of the central issues of his campaign for the Democratic nomination to Congress in New York State's 24th District. The following statement from Les Roberts about the issue comes from a transcript of his official announcement speech, which is available on the web site That's My Congress.

"All of us balance our checkbooks at home. The federal government has the same responsibility. These recent tax shifts - I don't want to call them cuts because our government wasn't cut and it didn't get smaller - from the wealthiest two percent to your local taxes and to our debt, has been the height of irresponsibility. In the 24th District, probably the most acute effect we have seen has been the viability of Medicaid. We have the situation now where the counties here in Central New York are paying 50 to 90 percent of their budgets on this federally mandated Medicaid program. The state has a huge chunk of its budget spent on Medicaid as well. It seems to me on the verge of obscene for our Congress and our congressman to have, just a few weeks ago, voted to cut Medicaid.

Last year, two-thirds of hospitals lost money. Mary Grace, who you just met, is the director of the library down in Sidney. A couple of months ago, the hospital in Sidney went bankrupt and shut its doors. The hospitals in Upstate New York are in a fiscal crisis. There's a couple reasons for this. The ones most easily solved by the federal government are the inadequate funding or reimbursement of Medicaid, where you and I are subsidizing the inadequate funding when we pay our health insurance, and secondly the fact that so many people, working people, do not have health insurance. There are three million people without health insurance in New York State today, and those folks often have their illnesses and end up being treated in the emergency room. That is unpleasant and unkind for them, and it is expensive for us, showing up in our taxes and in our medical costs."

Michael Arcuri: The Law Enforcer

During his speech in Lansing a couple weeks ago, congressional candidate Michael Arcuri made it clear that he'll position himself as the legal eagle of the Democratic primary race. As Oneida County's District Attorney, it is Arcuri's job to prosecute people accused of breaking the law. He promised to do the same in Congress, saying of President Bush's program to illegally wiretap Americans citizens' telephone calls and read their emails without a search warrant:

"This President is not really following the rule of law. Congressional hearings are going to be important. My real concern is this: Hearings are great, but there need to be more than just hearings. There need to be decisions made. Congress needs to assert its legislative power. They made the law. They made it clear. The President is not enforcing it. That's one of the things, shame on Congress, they need to be doing more. I think, if we had a Democratic majority, we'll see that that will be something we see more of."

Good for Michael Arcuri for taking a stand for congressional action against warrantless wiretapping that goes beyond mere hearings. The hearing organized by the Republican Congress in which Alberto Gonzales was allowed to testify without being legally sworn to tell the truth was a sham. Les Roberts has suggested that he, like Michael Arcuri, would support strong congressional action to bring the Bush White House back under the control of the rule of law. These statements are a good start, but each candidate needs to communicate a more full explanation of the path they believe that Congress should take to deal with the abuse of the law by the Bush Administration.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

WKRT and More Liberal Poll on 24th District Congress Race

One of the readers of this blog has castigated me for offering a link over to WKRT, which is, apparently, a conservative radio station in Cortland. Let me just observe that, until this morning, there was no other online poll about the 24th District's congressional campaign. Well, now you can go over to New York Liberal's poll and participate there.

So far, the New York Liberal poll is neck and neck between Bruce Tytler and Les Roberts - with no other votes for either Leon Koziol or Michael Arcuri. Arcuri and Koziol fans, it's time for you to join in the fray and speak up for your candidates.

If WKRT is, in fact, a conservative haven, then it's even more dramatic that Les Roberts is doing so well over there. It seems that the Republican voters in the 24th District are not strongly motivated by either Sherwood Boehlert or Brad Jones. This suggests that there is open territory for another Republican to enter the race and knock both Boehlert and Jones out.

An update on the WKRT poll (we have to take our information from where it comes - I see nothing from WNYY):

- Les Roberts: Up to 46%
- Sherwood Boehler: Down to 21%
- Bruce Tytler: Up to 12%
- Brad Jones: Down to 11%
- Mike Arcuri: Down to 10%

Les Roberts Campaigns Around the District

Lately, Les Roberts has accelerated the pace of his campaigning around the district, making appearances here and there. Speeches at Cortland and Cornell have focused on the experience Roberts has researching civilian deaths in Iraq.

A week from tomorrow (March 2), Les Roberts will be having a more politically-focused meeting with the Lansing Democrats. The meeting is open to the public, and will take place at the Lansing Community Center at 7:00 in the evening. If you want to know more about what the Les Roberts campaign stands for, please attend. I've found that the Lansing Democrats have a nice and easy casual attitude, and provide a good environment for discussion of the issues.

Unscientific Poll Shows Les Roberts Ahead

Over at the web site for WKRT, an AM radio station out of Cortland, they've put a poll up online

It's an unscientifc poll, but it does give a general indication of the status of the different campaigns, and it provides yet another confirmation for my previous assessment that, at least for now, Les Roberts is the Democratic frontrunner in the primary race. Heck, as this poll shows it, Les Roberts may be on the path to becoming the frontrunner in the general election. Here are the results as they stand this morning:

Les Roberts - 44%
Sherwood Boehlert - 22%
Brad Jones - 12%
Bruce Tytler - 12%
Michael Arcuri - 11%

To go ahead and take the poll yourself, scroll down the screen on the column on the left hand side and click on the name of your favored candidate.

If you're feeling kind of poll-happy, you might want to go over and participate in yet another 24th District congressional poll which appears to have been started over at New York Liberal early this morning on their discussion board. So far, there's one vote for Bruce Tytler. Way to go, Bruce.

The WKRT poll, though unscientific, shows what kind of force a web site can play in the campaign. WKRT listeners will hear that Les Roberts is winning the poll. People who visit the WKRT web site will see how much support Les Roberts appears to have - even if the poll is dramatically unrepresentative of the district's Democrats as a whole (and we just don't know if it is or not). So, Les Roberts will, in yet another way, take on the appearance of the strongest candidate in the pack.

Why did this happen? Well, the fact that the Les Roberts campaign site linked in to the poll over at WKRT didn't hurt things. Josh Lozman, the campaign manager for Les Roberts, wrote a quick blog entry yesterday mentioning the poll to campaign supporters. At that point, apparently, Sherwood Boehlert was ahead of Les Roberts by just a few votes. Now, thanks to the heavy traffic from the Les Roberts campaign blog, Sherwood Boehlert has been left in the dust.

That's not a scientific representation of district Democratic opinion, but it is a significant demonstration of campaign power. Michael Arcuri, Bruce Tytler and Leon Koziol don't have campaign web sites, so they cannot alert their supporters to the existence of online campaign happenings like this WKRT poll.

What other opportunities are these campaigns missing?

Well, Les Roberts supporters know where there candidate will be, and when he will be there. They know where he has been. What do Arcuri supporters know? What do Tytler supporters know? Not much. That doesn't make supporters feel very good.

So, come on readers. If you're a supporter of Bruce Tytler, Michael Arcuri, or Leon Koziol, get your butts on over to the WKRT poll or to the New York Liberal poll, and put in a vote for your candidate. You've got a lot of catching up to do, but for now, this blog is the closest thing that you have to a campaign site for your candidate.

Oh, but Koziol supporters - you'll notice that WKRT doesn't even bother to list Leon Koziol as a candidate. That's not a good sign.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

24th District Campaign Web Assessment

It's time for an update on the status of the 24th District's congressional candidates' web sites.

As has been the case for many weeks, Democrat Les Roberts has a web site up and active. The other Democratic candidates do not.

Bruce Tytler and still-officially-unannounced Michael Arcuri have registered domain names for their campaigns, but they have not put any web sites online at those locations. Leon Koziol, who personally told me one month ago that he was working on his campaign web site and it would be up soon, has yet to even purchase a domain name.

Koziol did run campaign ads on television even way back in January, of course. Oh, he didn't call them campaign advertisements, at least not in public. They were a weird amalgam of political imagery with a kind of campaign-free promotion of Leon Koziol. Was it for Koziol's law firm, or for his congressional campaign? Who could tell? One wonders if this entire congressional campaign thing is just another way for Koziol to get his name out in public view, so that he can get more clients. If that's the case, I'm doing you a big favor, Mr. Koziol. I just mentioned your name five times. Oops, there I go again. Six.

Sherwood Boehlert is also not online with a campaign web site - though he does have a private web site promoting his legislative agenda that will presumably swing into campaign mode if he decides to run for re-election. That's a big if, as we're all watching Congressman Boehlert play a kind of pathetic game in which he's threatening the Republican congressional leadership with not running for re-election unless he gets a new committee chairmanship after being kicked off the Science Committee next year. Boehlert is betting that the Republican leadership cares about his tantrum, when in fact, it's quite likely that they could care less.

Boehlert's Republican rival, Brad Jones, has a campaign web site up, though I won't give him the aid of a link to it. It's easy to find on Google. Candidate Jones uses his campaign web site to make useless statements such as "I believe in life" while running away from the really important issues of the day. Brad Jones doesn't even list the Iraq War as an issue of importance on his web site - a slap in the face of the soldiers of the 24th District who are fighting in that war. Jones doesn't want to talk about the Iraq War because he's supported every wrong decision in that war - not a record to be proud of. Keep it up, Mr. Jones.

Les Roberts campaign blog back on its feet

After a little pause in activity, the Les Roberts campaign blog looks like it's back on its feet. Yesterday, campaign volunteer Cathy Silber wrote with passion and poetry for the blog, about the recent visit of Les Roberts to Clinton.

"When everyone had loaded up on Margie’s cardamom bread and Mary’s quiche and Kathy’s foccacia, and Cathy’s sushi—to name a few, Les spoke for about 10 minutes, and then the interview began in earnest. For about an hour Les took one tough question after another on all the subjects that matter. With honesty and insight and commitment so rare in politicians these days and so central to who Les is as a person, Les showed us, one answer at a time, just how much those issues matter to him, and just how much he can give to make the 24th District all that it can be and should be. Wow, great answer, went the buzz in the room, again, and again.

A living room here, a kitchen there, one by one and ten by ten, people meet Les and then know it for themselves: he’s the genuine article, an honorable man. People meet Les and know it in their bones: this is it, Les is the one. People who would never dream of putting a bumper sticker on their car take a sticker. People who have never contributed to a political campaign in their lives open their checkbooks. Everyone wants to volunteer on the campaign."

I'd like to hear more from this volunteer. I wonder, however - is Cathy referring to her own sushi in that first sentence? Is that ethical? I don't think we need to trouble ourselves about it. It is no grave matter. The informal blog format may allow a writer's identity to fairly tumble around in the a freedom.

Are you hearing this kind of testimonial for any of the other candidates?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Les Roberts to Speak at Cornell University Tonight

If you want to get a better sense of who Les Roberts is, and want the chance to ask him questions about his campaign, you've got a good opportunity tonight. Les Roberts will be speaking tonight at the Uris Auditorium of Cornell University, from 5:30 - 7:00.

The title of his speech: Civilian Causalities in Iraq: The Untold Story

Here's the blurb of information that the Les Roberts campaign is releasing about the speech:

"During September of 2004 a study was conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Al Mustansarya University in Baghdad that estimated at least 100,000 civilians had died as a result of the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. The study received front-page coverage across Europe and the Middle-east but was largely ignored by the U.S. media. Les Roberts, an epidemiologist and lead author on the study, will discuss the discrepancy between the media coverage in the U.S. and elsewhere and the implications for the American public."

I won't be there myself, as I am currently stuck in Chicago doing on a research project concerning consumer perceptions of health care choices. I can almost say that I'd rather listen to a speech by Sherwood Boehlert, but really, it's not that bad.

Tytler's Brain War

Is it a matter of style or substance? I'm not sure yet, but the theme is unmistakable. So far, Bruce Tytler's campaign is all about the Brain War.

The phrase "brain war" appears in almost every article about the Tytler for Congress campaign that I've seen. Over the weekend, for example, a new article in the Utica Observer-Dispatch quotes Tytler as saying, "We won the Cold War. We can't afford to lose the brain war."

I presume that when Bruce Tytler talks about the Brain War, he is speaking in favor of support for public education. The analogy between the struggle to fund education and the Cold War is interesting to me because it has three degrees of separation from actual war. Let's remember that the Cold War was itself not actually a war. So now, Bruce Tytler is comparing educational advocacy to a long simmering competition that was in turn likened to a war.

If we are to use a war metaphor for education, what components will it include? Will there be the rocket propellled grenades of science and the roadside bombs of intelligent design theology? How about the trenches of fast food in school cafeterias? Do pep rallies become like USO shows?

I'm not sure whether Bruce Tytler will be able to pull off the brain war metaphor yet, but I have this much to say in favor of the concept: At least Bruce Tytler has come up with a memorable phrase tied to progressive policy. It helps him distinguish himself from the other candidates a little bit, and in this crowded primary field, that can't be bad.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cyber Terrorists Strike Progressive Network

If you're the type who clicks on links, you may have noticed that the New York Progressive Directory listed over on the right hand column of this Take Back Back New York's 24th blog doesn't lead to anywhere any more. Since Friday afternoon, the site has been dead.

I thought at first that the New York State Progressive Directory might be offline just as the result of the extremely powerful winds that blasted Upstate New York on Friday, knocking out power across our region and killing two people. Actually, the reason for the site's sudden disappearance is much more troubling.

The progressive directory was the victim of cyber terrorism in the form of a distributed denial of service attack so large that the company that hosted the site, Lunar Pages, could not cope, and shut the web site down, telling the web site's producers that Lunar Pages would no longer be willing to host the site.

In this distributed denial of service attack, the cyber terrorists set up thousands of fake IP addresses and then, from those addresses, sent such a surge of information requests that the vulnerable system designed by Lunar Pages could not keep up. So, the attack was not a hack in the classic sense of a network break in, but it had a similar destructive impact.

I have learned that the New York Progressive Directory was really just one part of a much larger network of progressive web sites that included a set of similar directories of progressive organizations and blogs in every state in the USA, a ten year-old progressive site with a prominent blog, web sites promoting Democratic presidential candidates for the 2008 election, a national progressive political merchandising infrastructure, and even a web site that discussed the symbolic-mythological context of current events. In a flash, this entire progressive network was destroyed.

Apparently, the progressive network attacked by cyber terrorists last Friday had a long list of enemies. Its contributors had spent years vigorously opposing right wing ideology, not just in the United States, but around the world. Among the people angered by various sites on the network were Republican activists, Christian and Islamic fundamentalists, large corporations, conservative Democrats, and Bush loyalists in the federal government.

The list of potential suspects is too huge to contemplate, but this much is clear: The progressive network was attacked by somebody who was threatened by its clear and honest use of free speech. The attack was intended to enforce censorship on political dissent, and although the network is currently working to get back online, for a few days at least, that censorship has been effective.

It wasn't just the cyber terrorists who made the censorship possible. Lunar Pages helped the attackers succeed when they pulled the plug on the progressive network of web sites and refused to host the network any longer. Apparently, in the offices of Lunar Pages, a decision has been made that any web site of political dissent that becomes powerful enough to gain the attention of unscrupulous cyber terrorists will be kicked off their servers. Only political web sites so ineffectual as to not to offend or gain the attention of anybody will remain online.

On a larger scale, such surrender to terrorism would be unthinkable. It would be as if the federal government, after September 11, 2001, said to New York City that Manhattan would have to secede from the Union, because its prominence made it too vulnerable to future attacks, and the USA just couldn't handle the security logistics any more.

This kind of preemptive censorship has become all-too-common in America.

Seeing this attack on the online progressive network, and the reaction of Lunar Pages to it, reminded me of the attitude of someone I met with last week, to discuss the 24th district congressional campaign. This person is working on one of the campaigns, and I won't identify who it is, because I don't want to get into personal attacks. It was the ideas that this person expressed that bothered me, not the personality of this individual in itself.

Discussing campaign strategy, this person said that the campaign on which he/she is working is struggling to prevent its candidate from being perceived as a liberal. The candidate would have to be careful about what he said, this person told me, and would have to be cautious about being associated too strongly with local liberal Democratic groups.

Now, I happen to know that this candidate is, in fact, a liberal. It has also been clear to me that he is not the only liberal Democrat running in this race. Still, it seems that this candidate's campaign staff has him convinced that letting voters know that he is a liberal is a bad idea.

It makes me wonder - why is it that people in the 24th District have such little respect for liberals? Is it a problem with liberal ideals? I don't think so. America's traditional civic values are liberal values. Democracy, equality, liberty, fairness, critical suspicion of government power, and empowerment of ordinary citizens are the ideas that have made America great, and are well within the mainstream of political thought.

The only thing that most people in the 24th District, and across America, don't seem to like about liberals is that they're called liberals. It's quite odd, but when you consider the way that most liberals participate in public political discussions, it's also quite understandable.

Ever since Ronald Reagan got into the White House, American liberals have been nervous ninnies. The personal presence of President Reagan was so powerful that he convinced liberals that things really had changed, and that the political game had to be played on his terms.

That acceptance of Reagan's rules was disaster for American liberalism, of course. From that point on, liberals ceased to set the tone for their own agenda. Everything liberal became couched in right wing Republican language, and so liberals became, in the perception of the rest of America, nothing more than weak imitations of Republicans.

When people say that Democrats don't have any ideas of their own, they're dead wrong. What Democrats don't have any more is their own language - and that includes the word "liberal".

It has become perceived as a bad thing to be a liberal not because there is anything wrong with being a liberal, but rather because liberals act as if there is something wrong with being a liberal. Every liberal proposal begins with an apology. Liberal politics has become an arena of "Yes, but", in which the fundamental right wing ideology remains unchallenged.

The people of the 24th District are cold to liberals because they have never met a liberal. Every liberal who runs for office in America these days does so wearing an elephant costume. Is it any wonder so few of them get elected?

Some voters are ideologues - and that's not a bad thing. Most voters in the 24th District, however, are not. They're open to a persuasive message of any variety. A political narrative that is compelling really can move them, because they don't care enough about party politics to be particularly loyal.

Most of all, what people in the 24th District look for in a candidate is somebody they can trust. Now, I don't like Republican politics, but the fact is that Republican politicians can be trusted to act like Republicans. People know what they're getting with a Republican.

Contrast most of our Democrats with that Republican political honesty. Our candidates start out by assuming that they've got the liberal vote wrapped up just by having their name on the Democratic line. So, they spend most of their campaign time pretending to be something that they aren't. They think they're being clever, but they're not. The problem with their strategy is that they can't pull it off.; Voters know they're being insincere, and therefore judge them to be untrustworthy.

It's a vicious cycle in which the liberal side of politics gets weaker with every lost election, and liberal Democratic politicians, in response, become more dishonest about who they really are, and therefore, even less appealing to voters.

And so we arrive at the state we are in now, where Democratic campaign workers shiver in fright at the idea that their candidates might be perceived as liberal. Democratic campaigns don't even try to persuade the voters any more. Instead, they begin with an ideological surrender. That's like starting out a chess game by giving up your queen before your opponent has even moved a pawn. It is no way to win.

It's also a kick in the teeth to liberal grassroots activists in our district, the people who set the foundation for Democrats to run for office, when candidates weasel out of a direct and honest discussion, professing to be moderates, just like everyone else, and eschewing liberal political philosophy, as if it's something to be ashamed of.

When I heard about the cyber attack on the progressive political network, I took some extra time to think about the importance of honest free speech. There are a lot of people out there, both inside and outside Americ, who want people like me to be quiet, and now I can see that some of those people are willing to act to enforce their censorship upon us.

I feel relatively protected posting this blog on Blogger.com, which has the power of Google to back it up, but what if I had a blog out there on its own stand-alone server that could become the target of a cyber terrorist attack? Would I think twice about what I write, trying to avoid offending people who might try to hack the site?

I hope not. Too many people are too afraid these days. It's the goal of terrorism to make us quiet by making us afraid, and the only way to confront and defeat terrorism is to be unafraid and to be unswayed in our course of political action.

Free speech is not free if we only exercise it when it's easy to speak. If I were to censor myself because I became afraid of someone attacking my web site, or worried that someone might call me a name, like "liberal", nothing I wrote would be worth reading. I would join that campaign worker, and the management of Lunar Pages, in the community of the afraid.

You may say it's easy for me to talk about free speech. I'm a blogger, after all. I'm not running for public office. I don't have a campaign on the line.

In a way, you're right. Sure, I'm not the one campaigning. But, if I don't speak, I've got to put up with a government built upon a democracy of silence. If I don't speak honestly, I know that I am part of the problem.

Besides, does a candidate for Congress really have anything more to lose than I do? If a candidate is running merely for the sake of satisfying their own personal ambition, by all means, that candidate should duck and weave and maneuver without regard to making an honest promotion of their true ideals.

A more sincere candidate, however, has nothing to lose. The candidate runs for a few months, and if he does not win the seat, he goes back to work in his old profession, having made a name for himself in his community.

Having a solid chance of losing the race, why wouldn't the candidate want to ensure that he at least lost the right way? A political campaign isn't just about winning. It's also about promoting what you believe in, and getting citizens involved in the democratic process, to make it stronger.

Opportunists hire political sharks to intimidate opponents and bluster open a path to victory. Opportunists say what they think people want to hear. Opportunists work with whomever they can get on their side, whether those people have the same vision or not.

Leaders have vision, and work to persuade other people to believe in that vision. Leaders work with other people who believe in the cause. Leaders inspire people into action. Leaders would rather lose than mislead.

This year, I want to help elect a leader into the House of Representatives. To the Democratic candidates, I say that it is time to be bold and time to be true. Show me your leadership.

Equitable Offense in the 24th District Race

People who like to keep their heads down may not understand it, but I regard it as a good thing to be caught in the middle, with shots coming from all sides. I don't want to seem too beholden to any one of the Democratic campaigns, but at the same time I don't want to work to create an artificial system for equivalent writing about each campaign. After all, the different campaigns have different merits - and are each releasing different kinds of information. I can't create equality where equality doesn't exist, and so I have to write about what comes up as it comes up, and hope that it all sorts out in the end.

So, it was with satisfaction that I read the last three comments left here at Take Back New York's 24th. Each comment offered a critique of my coverage of a particular candidate, but none of the comments were offered from the same perspective. One comment called upon me to offer more probing criticism of Michael Arcuri's campaign. Another comment chastised me for my conclusion that Les Roberts is running a strong campaign. The third comment took called my criticism of Sherwood Boehlert's poor attendance to his own health "a cheap shot".

I've received sharp responses to my articles about Bruce Tytler and Leon Koziol too, and that's great. A lot of these comments sound curiously close to the various candidates themselves, and almost everybody here likes to comment anonymously, but that's fine with me. What matters most to me is that there is a healthy discussion about this congressional race.

I'm a Democrat, and I want a Democrat to win this race, but I haven't made a final decision to lend the support of this blog to any one of the Democratic candidates. Leon Koziol has quickly dropped out of the running for my personal endorsement, due to his right wing attitudes and weird, personally-obsessive, style of campaigning.

I believe that I can best serve the campaigns of Bruce Tytler, Mike Arcuri, and Les Roberts by providing information about their activities and positions, but also providing criticism when criticism is needed. Each one of these three campaigns is in serious need of some prodding to strengthen its public outreach campaign - and that means more than glossy advertisements on television and meetings with county Democratic committees. If I rub these campaigns the wrong way every now and then, I don't mind, so long as it gets the campaigns to work harder in compensation.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Michael Arcuri's Position: I Know the Law

In his recent speech before a gathering of Lansing Democrats, still-undeclared-yet-official-candidate Mike Arcuri made his position of differentiation among the field of four Democratic candidates clear: He has public experience enforcing the law.

How does Arcuri intend to translate that experience into a qualification for Congress? It's trickier than it might seem, given that the job of a member of the House of Representatives is to write the law and oversee the Executive, rather than to enforce the law, as a prosecutor or district attorney does.

Yet, Arcuri has found a way to make the connection: To position himself as a tough guy enforcer who still respects the rule of law.

"I'm a prosecutor. I'm a DA. I have signed more wiretap applications than people in this room. I've done more search warrant applications in the middle of the night, and three in the morning, than the people in this room. I understand what we need. I understand how important it is to get a wiretap. I understand how important it is to get a search warrant, a certain criterion that must be met, and that this Administration is not meeting."

Of course, the more perceptive of you will note that this position is in contrast to George W. Bush more than it is to Les Roberts, Bruce Tytler, or Mike Arcuri. Then again, isn't every Democrat in America running against Bush this year?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sherwood Boehlert Campaign is Smoking!

Republican Congressman Sherwood Boehlert's re-election campaign is smoking - all too literally.

Take a look at the attention that Representative Boehlert has been getting in the news lately, and you'll see that his reputation is largely that of being Washington D.C.'s most desperate smoker. The news has been full of stories this year about how, as much as he wants, Congressman Boehlert just can't quit smoking - in spite of the fact that he needed cardiovascular surgery during the 2004 election season in order to deal with the damage he has done to his body.

Well, that's his business, I suppose, although you'd think that our elected representative in Congress would have enough respect for us constituents to keep himself in better shape. I can't imagine how anyone could do a good job in the House of Representatives with a set of clogged lungs and a heart that struggles to keep up with every drag. It's a wonder that Sherwood Boehlert keeps up even the weakening pace of work that he managed lately.

No, the real trouble with Sherwood Boehlert is his more public addiction to tobacco. I'm not talking about his bad habit of puffing on cigarettes. I'm talking about a more nasty habit - Sherwood Boehlert's addiction to political contributions from big tobacco corporations.

Congressman Boehlert has been taking campaign contributions from the Altria Group, a big tobacco corporation, ever since the Altria Group became the Altria Group - a change from its previous incarnation as Philip Morris. Last year, Sherwood Boehlert's campaign committee took the maximum allowed from Altria's corporate political action group, sent in two big checks, one sent in February 2005, and another sent in September 2005. Why? It's not in the business interests of corporations like Altria to just throw away money without some expectation of a significant financial return.

The last time I checked, New York State's 24th District was not a big center for tobacco farms. Tobacco grows better down south, in places like Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina. So Altria's funding of Congressman Boehlert's campaigns has hardly been a matter of just supporting the home town boy.

We who live hundreds of miles away from Altria's corporate headquarters have the right to ask just what Altria's corporate lobbyists are expecting in return for their money. We also have the right to ask why Sherwood Boehlert is taking this money. He's our representative, after all, so isn't our money good enough for him? If Sherwood Boehlert can't raise enough money from his constituents to fund his re-election campaigns, isn't that a pretty good sign that it's time for him to step aside?

The only cigarette-related activity that goes on in the 24th District is smoking - including the sale and transmission of cigarettes to kids. It's been a major problem for years that Sherwood Boehlert has not adequately addressed. Is he afraid to offend Altria, out of fear that his fundraising resources will dry up?

Congressman Boehlert, it's time for you to kick the habit. We, the people of the 24th District, are calling upon you to send back all the money that you've received from Altria for this election cycle. We want to see a clean campaign, with clean money. We're tired of all the smoke and mirrors.

Les Roberts Calls for alternative energy Apollo mission

During his announcement speech in Cortland, Les Roberts proposed that America summon its energies not to war, but to a new energy initiative that would preserve what prosperity we have, and provoke new growth, through concerted innovation with the goal of energy independence through the development of new sustainable energy technologies.

Roberts said,

"Half a century ago, John Kennedy challenged the country to put a man on the Moon within ten years. As a result, energy and money was infused into public schools. Research was initiated at universities, and wonderful economic ripple effects went through society. I think, today, our need to wean ourselves of foreign oil is far greater than our need was 40 years ago to put a man on the Moon. If we had an Apollo-like initiative to promote research into alternative energy sources, to implement energy resources that are out there and promote energy conservation in our homes, we would create a lot of jobs here in the 24th District.

We've got some big advantages here. Wind generation of electricity has already proven itself to be cost effective here, locally. Because of our dramatic temperature changes between the seasons, geothermal and hydrothermal have a lot of potential here. Also, we have five times more universities in the 24th District than is the norm in this country. We're exceedingly endowed with universities, and if research activities and activities for young people who have just finished their degrees existed, we would benefit disproportionately. On some visceral level, all of us understand the lack of a coherent energy policy we have right now, every time we fill up our cars with gas or pay our monthly heating bills."

This proposal is a smart combination of local issues and national priorities. In spite of the weirdly warm winter we're having, we all are having to cope with the economic impact of dramatically increased costs for heating our homes and businesses. Winter energy costs are a dramatic threat to the economic integrity of the 24th District. Yet, we also have a disproportionate number of colleges and universities in our district, and can benefit from investment in scientific research programs.

Sherwood Boehlert has grown increasingly weak as an advocate for science spending over the last few years, and Roberts, as a scientist, is hitting Boehlert hard in the one place where Boehlert appeals to some Democrats.

For more information about his campaign for Congress, visit the Les Roberts web site.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Leon Koziol Takes on State Business Through Congress?

We Democrats are hungry for change right now. We're sick of Republicans controlling all three branches of the federal government, and running America into the ground. Here in the 24th District, we're tired of watching the weak Republican Sherwood Boehlert go along with almost all of George W. Bush's right wing agenda over and over again, summoning only enough spine to write a letter of complaint every now and then, but failing to take strong action against Republican extremism.

We're eager for change, and that's good, but we ought not to be so eager for change that we neglect to intelligently evaluate the proposals of those Democrats who seek to replace the Republicans in Congress. Most Democrats are making intelligent, incisive critiques of Republican folly. A few, however, are committing folly of their own, making promises that they will never be able to keep.

Among these rash Democratic candidates is our own Leon Koziol, who is competing with Les Roberts, Michael Arcuri, and Bruce Tytler for the Democratic nomination in the 24th District campaign for Congress this year. Here's how Koziol defined his campaign in his formal statement of candidacy, released on February 7:

"My overriding mission in this quest to become a member of Congress is to bring dignity to the people of the 24th District. As a collection of small communities, we have become fractured by the unfortunate consequences of political gerrymandering. As a member of Congress, I will seek cohesiveness for this diverse district so that its residents may achieve meaningful influence in Washington and true prosperity for the Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier and Finger Lakes Region."

I'm all for dignity, but I wonder if it's realistic to say that a member of Congress can deliver dignity to his constituents on platter. I'm all for cohesiveness too, but cohesiveness comes from connections between neighbors, not actions of Congress.

I suppose that what Mr. Koziol is getting at is that he wants to undo the gerrymandering that has made the 24th District into a crazy contortion that sprawls across the middle of New York State. I'm against gerrymandering too. The problem is that congressional districts are determined on the state level - not by members of the U.S. House of Representatives. If Leon Koziol wants to undo inappropriate gerrymandering, he should set his sights at our state legislature, not our national legislature.

If undoing the gerrymandering of the 24th District is really Koziol's overriding mission in his quest to become a member of Congress, then it seems that he is upon a Quixotic quest, tilting at windmills that he believes to be dragons.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bruce Tytler Supports the War on Terrorism - What Does That Mean?

The article on Bruce Tytler's announcement speech in this morning's Post-Standard leaves a lot of questions buzzing through my brain. Tytler is quoted as saying that he opposes "illegally spying on American citizens," but supports the "war on terrorism."

Good for Tytler for taking a clear stand on the illegal programs of the Bush Administration to spy against Americans. Every Democrat in the race but Leon Koziol has now taken that stand.

What does Bruce Tytler mean, though, when he says that he supports the "war on terrorism"?

I'd like to see the candidates in this race avoid using terms like the "war on terrorism", because they're very poorly defined. Just what is this "war on terrorism" anyway? I've never seen its parameters defined by the Bush Administration. The amorphous "war on terror" includes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, secret military missions all over the world in places we'll never know about, imprisonment of American citizens without charge, spying against American anti-war activists, duct tape and plastic sheeting, and cuts to education funding to pay for Star Wars missile defense systems. The "war on terror" includes preemptive strikes, secret prisons, and torture of prisoners, along with expensive Homeland Security defenses in Wyoming.

When Bruce Tytler says that he supports the "war on terrorism", I really don't know what he's about. Does he support the whole package, or just parts of it?

Iraq and Afghanistan are not part of the same war. Domestic surveillance is not the same issue as Abu Ghraib. Lumping them all together into a single "war" only benefits the Republican strategists who are counting on the instinct people have to huddle together when they feel under threat. A successful Democratic campaign for Congress will have to reject the vague language of Republican propaganda and start talking specifics.

Mike Arcuri on Iraq

Michael Arcuri still has not officially announced his candidacy, though he's been campaigning, make no mistake about that (My favorite recent headline is from WSTM: "DA plans to announce bid to challenge Boehlert" - is planning to announce a campaign now news?) I was glad to go to Arcuri's talk in Lansing, where the proto-candidate began to spell out his positions on the most important issues of the day.

This morning, I want to examine Michael Arcuri's position on Iraq, which looks like it needs a little refinement. Here's what Arcuri said in Lansing:

"They talk about pulling the troops out, but they don't give us any cogent, any real definitive timetable bring the troops home. Look, we're there, and though I believe we should not have been there in the first place, it would just not be a good move, and it would not be smart for our country to just pull the troops out right now. It just doesn't make sense, but we need to establish a benchmark, a timetable. Sherry Boehlert wrote a five column article in the Utica paper a few weeks ago talking about the war in Iraq, and it sounded like all he was doing was exactly like what the Administration said. He said we need to set benchmarks, and those benchmarks should be handing a democracy, a democratic form of government over to the people of Iraq. Well, that sounds really good, but let's be realistic. They have never had a democracy in Iraq, and we need more substantive, tangible benchmarks, whether it's having a standing army of half a million or securing a majority of the provinces, or having a security force of a certain number. We need definitive benchmarks, and they should be established by the people who are in Iraq, not by ideologues in the Pentagon who follow the President's same philosophy. We should be talking to the troops in the field, and find out from them when we can get them home, because it really is, as my son said, we really need to get those troops home as soon as possible."

It's a challenge to figure out exactly what position Arcuri is advocating here, and how he's differentiating himself from Sherwood Boehlert. It seems, from what I can make out that Arcuri opposes a withdrawal of troops from Iraq in the near future. As an alternative, Arcuri wants America to set benchmarks for a gradual withdrawal.

That's strikingly close to the position taken by Sherwood Boehlert, but it's not exactly the same. Arcuri's critique of Boehlert seems to be that the benchmarks Boehlert suggests for withdrawal from Iraq are not tangible or realistic enough. Arcuri wants soldiers in the field to develop the criteria, through some kind of collaborative process, I suppose, for when the war will end.

That's a politically appealing message for the crowd that chants "Support Our Troops", but is it practical or even wise? Should war be a grassroots process in which the soldiers on the ground get to decide what the war is about, where they will fight, and when it will all end? Are we to replace generals with opinion surveys of people in uniform? I know that soldiers see a lot, but the truth is that soldiers also miss a lot of the big picture, being right in the action, with practical restrictions on the kind of information they're getting.

To be fair to Arcuri, there are a lot of people making this kind of suggestion. President Bush suggested something similar in his State of the Union Address, when he said that the time to withdraw from Iraq should be set by our military leaders in Iraq, and not by politicians in Washington.

Such statements make me uneasy. After all, America is still a democracy, and in a democracy, important decisions about matters of war and peace ought to be made by our elected representatives, not by appointed military officials. Military leaders should be consulted, but foreign policy and overall strategy must be determined by the civilian government.

Whether to stay in Iraq is not a military decision. It's a political decision that we must make based upon the judgment of whether the Iraq War is of any benefit to us Americans, or to the Iraqi people. Right now, the arguments for continuing the Iraq War are very weak. It's getting very difficult to pretend that the Iraq War is helping anyone, here in America or in Iraq.

Michael Arcuri's position on Iraq needs to grapple more forcefully with this difficult truth. We need a Democratic candidate who has the strenth to be specific about when and how we ought to leave Iraq. Arcuri seems to have the intelligence and integrity to come to such a stand, but his position on Iraq as it now exists needs a lot of work.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Leon Koziol Attacks Free Speech as Untraditional

I got a hold of Leon Koziol's official announcement statement yesterday, and as I read through it, I find that I'm darkly amused by portrait it paints of Koziol the candidate. There's too much absurdity to address all at once, so I'll have to take Koziol's announcement on bit by bit.

Here's today's bit: Apparently, Leon Koziol regards free speech as outside of the American tradition of constitutional law.

I'm not kidding. Consider these statements from Koziol's announcement statement:

"We've allowed extremists to exploit free speech over the dignity and symbolism of the American flag."

"Dignity means an adherence to traditional notions of our constitutional rights."

Is this the stuff of thing they teach in law school these days?

Mr. Koziol, freedom of speech was put into the Bill of Rights because the Founding Fathers wanted it to be exploited. To exploit something is to use it. If we're not supposed to use our free speech rights, what good are they?

I suppose that Leon Koziol's idea is that free speech is okay, just so long as extremists don't use it. Any intelligent person can understand that a free speech that is available only to people perceived as moderates is no free speech at all. After all, who gets to decide who is an extremist and who is not? If someone like Leon Koziol were to make that decision, then anyone who supports the right of people to use the American flag as a part of a nonviolent free speech protest would be cast as an extremist, and would be deprived of free speech rights. It's kind of circular, isn't it? In this mindset, anyone who demands free speech is automatically regarded as too extreme to be allowed to have free speech. Is this Leon Koziol's vision for America? Free speech for everyone who agrees to sit down and be quiet?

I know that Mr. Koziol claims to be a super attorney with extraordinary skills of persuasion, but I'm just not buying his argument here. You see, I paid attention to social studies class when I was in high school, and to this day, I remember that America's "traditional notions of our constitutional rights" include freedom of speech, no matter how unpopular that speech is.

Maybe Leon Koziol doesn't like it when people burn American flags. That's his right, although flag burning is hardly a national crisis. Last year, only one or two protests in the United States including the burning of an American flag. Nobody in the 24th district has burned an American flag in a protest for as long as anyone can remember, if ever. So, I think it's kind of weird, and kind of pathetic, that Koziol has decided to make opposition to flag burning a major plank in his campaign for the Democratic nomination. He might as well take a stand against the growing of palm trees in Upstate New York backyard gardens.

Koziol doesn't like the rare practice of flag burning. I, on the other hand, don't particularly like mimes. I think they're annoying, with their pasty faces and little black berets. The difference between myself and Leon Koziol is that I think it ought to be legal for people to use their free speech rights to annoy me. Mr. Koziol? He just doesn't think annoying him ought to be allowed.

I haven't made an endorsement of any of the Democratic congressional candidates in the 24th district congressional race yet. I need to hear a lot more from Bruce Tytler and Michael Arcuri before I make a decision. However, after looking at the material Leon Koziol has created to promote his candidacy, I know for sure one Democratic candidate that I will not give my support to. For his dim-witted stand against free speech alone, I can now offer my hearty dis-endorsement of Koziol for Congress.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Tytler Typo Target of Dedicated Opponents

I don't mind admitting that I'm wrong. Early this morning, when an anonymous reader came on and noted that the FEC had Bruce Tytler listed under the 29th District, I went over to the FEC web site and looked through the images they had of the actual paperwork that Bruce Tytler filed. I reported that I had found documents in which Bruce Tytler had listed himself as a candidate in the 24th District, and showed a graphic of that paperwork.

Apparently, I didn't search hard enough through all that paperwork, for there was another document in which it appears that Bruce Tytler actually did type in District 29 as the place of his intended candidacy. Here's a picture of that document:

bruce tytler 29th district

So, it appears that Bruce Tytler listed the 24th District on some documents and the 29th District on other documents. Unlike a couple of the candidates who are running as Democrats in this race, I'm no lawyer, so I can't tell you what this means for the legal status of the Bruce Tytler campaign, but it all around doesn't look good.

This kind of inattention to detail can now be used as a legitimate campaign issue against Bruce Tytler by his opponents. I'll point out that Tytler seems to have some pretty dedicated opponents, too. The only nasty rumors in this race - about his wife's sexual activities, even - have been directed against Bruce Tytler. Now, there are people scanning his FEC filings looking for any little mistake.

It goes with the territory, I understand that, but I have to admit that I'm curious. Who has Bruce Tytler made so angry? Why are a few dedicated people doing whatever they can to bring Bruce Tytler down? I'm not a Cortland resident, so I admit to being completely in the dark on this one. Anyone who knows better is welcome to leave comments here with their thoughts on the matter.

Koziol Campaign Filing Still Not Registering - Another FEC Goof?

Today we have found out just how messed up our democratic institutions can be. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee lists a campaign in the 24th District that's been dead for almost two years. The FEC has listed Bruce Tytler's campaign as up in the 29th District, in spite of the fact that Bruce Tytler correctly listed the 24th District as the place of his campaign in his paperwork.

Now, we also see today that, in spite of the fact that Leon Koziol has publicly declared his candidacy, and claims to have over $22,000 in donated money in his campaign accounts, the FEC has no record of anyone by the name of Koziol running for Congress anywhere in America. Could it be that Koziol has been collecting money and running a campaign without filing with the FEC?

Well, it could be, but it ain't necessarily so. Although Bruce Tytler is just making his official campaign announcement now, he filed with the FEC on January 30. Koziol made his official campaign announcement earlier this week, but perhaps he made his filing earlier this week as well. If so, the FEC just might not have gotten the documents up online yet - not even in the quickly updated image review of FEC filings.

We'll have to remember to give some extra scrutiny to Koziol's filing a few weeks from now, which will reveal the donations that have been made to his campaign up to this point. We'll look to see when he made his campaign official, when he received his donations, and whether he really had $22,000 on hand at the time of his campaign announcement, as claimed.

Until such information is available, we have to give Koziol the benefit of the doubt. The FEC has proved to be slow and inaccurate too many times in the past to base charges solely upon the information that it has made available to us online.

Squelching a Rumor - Tytler is not in the 29th

Sharks circle quickly around the smallest amount of blood in the water. Sometimes, though, that blood is just a splash of cranberry juice from a passing cruise ship.

So it was that, this morning, an anonymous reader - supporting which campaign? - of this blog pointed out that the FEC is listing Bruce Tytler as a candidate in New York State's 29th District, not the 24th District, where is announcing his campaign this very weekend.

Could it be that Bruce Tytler is such an idiot that he doesn't even know which congressional district he's running in? What a shocking bit of news that would be.

Well, prepare yourselves to be... not very shocked.

I checked up on Bruce Tytler's paperwork for the FEC myself, and he made no mistake. As the picture below shows, Bruce Tytler filled in the correct district number: 24. It was some number cruncher at the FEC who made the mistake, and got Tytler listed under the 29th District.

Bruce Tytler campaign filing FEC mistake

This mistake ought to provoke second thoughts in the minds of those people who think that the FEC can be trusted with electronic voting machines that don't have a paper trail to verify that votes are being counted correctly.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Fog

Getting the support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee seems to be the goal of every Democratic primary candidate. The DCCC is supposed to track Democratic candidacies for Congress across America and assess which candidates have a realistic chance of winning office. It is not reassuring, therefore, that the DCCC appears to sometimes have trouble telling the difference between 2004 and 2006.

For the 24th District's Democratic candidates, the DCCC no longer lists Jeff Miller, who was the 2004 Democratic nominee against incumbent Republican Sherwood Boehlert. That's good. However, the DCCC still lists Brian Goodell as an active candidate, and that's bad. Brian Goodell challenged Jeff Miller for the Democratic nomination in 2004, but dropped out of the race before the primary, when Jeff Miller secured most of the County Committee endorsements.

Brian Goodell was not the candidate in 2004, and he is not a candidate in 2006. Apparently, two years later the DCCC has still not received word of that fact.

It wouldn't take much work for the DCCC to discover Goodell's inactive status. The web site that the DCCC lists as Goodell's active campaign site is no longer on line. In fact, the domain name GoodellForCongress.com is no longer registered. If you, reader, wanted to go claim it for your own, you could.

On the other hand, the DCCC does not list the only active Democratic campaign web site in the district so far this year: The site of Les Roberts. The DCCC does not list Leon Koziol as an active candidate at all, although Koziol made an official announcement last week and claims to have raised $22,000. Is that $22,000 imaginary, or is it the DCCC that's fake?

On a local level, the ignorance of the DCCC is annoying. On a national level, it is more profoundly disturbing. How can the Democratic Party hope to retake either house of Congress when it doesn't even know who its potential candidates are?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Where is Boehlert's Defense of Science?

I've heard many claims from Republican apologists over the last few days that Sherwood Boehlert has been an important defender of science in Congress. This point is repeated so often that it seems to be a Boehlert campaign talking point, designed to stymie any effective Democratic resistance to Boehlert's cooperation with the overall Republican agenda in Congress. The number of 24th District Democrats who express the idea that "we can't criticize Boehlert because he protects science" is astonishing.

So, let's take this issue head on. Is Sherwood Boehlert actually an effective defender of science? In order to adequately answer this question, we need to look at the difference between posturing and effective action.

Sherwood Boehlert is an expert at posturing. He makes public statements. He writes open letters to government officials. He gives press conferences. Congressman Boehlert produces a lot of talk, and that talk creates the impression of action in the defense of science against attacks from the Religious Right and the Bush Administration.

But what has Sherwood Boehlert actually done? While Boehlert has talked up science budget increases, he has actually presided over significant cuts to science budgets. While Boehlert talks big about defending the integrity of science in the government, he has actually aligned himself with the very political party that is most hostile to scientific independence from political and economic pressure. Boehlert has written letters and made sound bites to create a pose against censorship of science by the Bush Administration, but has failed to conduct any real oversight to compensate for Bush Administration attacks against scientific integrity.

Where have the hearings into politically motivated censorship of science been? Where has the much-needed legislation to ban government censorship of science been? As chair of the House Committee on Science, it has been Sherwood Boehlert's responsibility to bring these countermeasures into force, but Boehlert has failed in this duty.

So, what are those apologists talking about, when they say that Sherwood Boehlert is pro-science? They're talking about pork barrel spending. Frankly, that kind of focus is short-sighted. Even if Sherwood Boehlert manages to use taxpayer money to toss a little bit of money to interest groups in the 24th district, that doesn't make up for his neglect in the face of a national Republican attack on science.

Besides, as of late, Sherwood Boehlert hasn't even succeeded in bringing meaningful money to the 24th District. He has tried to crow about a program in the budget, yet to be approved, that would spread a little bit more than $300 million in science spending across the United States, in the hope that a small fraction of that money might find its way to our region - no guarantees.

Besides, as much as George W. Bush talked about supporting science in his State of the Union Address, his actual budget makes science weaker, bringing in huge cuts to the basic education programs that provide the bread and butter for scientists across America. When it comes to promoting science, Bush, like Boehlert, is all talk.

And what of the focus of the small amount of science funding that the Bush budget Boehlert praises so much? Much of what they're calling science funding is actually for military projects that will enrich and empower big defense contractors, not scientific institutions. Consider that, in spite of all his earlier Moon Colony talk, Bush is cutting the NASA budget for Solar System exploration. On the other hand, Bush's budget increases funding for research into how to make America's nuclear weapons more "efficient" in their destructive power. At the same time that Bush and Boehlert are finding more money to find better ways to kill people, they are cutting money for medical research and treatment.

Sherwood Boehlert ought to be ashamed to be as complicit as he is in the corruption of government science by the Bush Administration. His record on science is nothing to be proud of. The next person that the 24th District sends to the House of Representatives needs to be a more honest and clear advocate for education and science in the federal government. Such a new, strong voice for science in the House would benefit us economically here in the 24th District, but more importantly, would help to restore America's lost position as the world leader in scientific innovation, securing the economic security of the American people for a new generation.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bruce Tytler to Announce His Campaign for Congress

Let me be the one to give him the first link:

Bruce Tytler is running for Congress.

Okay, I know, that link isn't exactly active yet. It leads to a placeholder site for now. But, the mere fact that the link has a placeholder reference tells us something. As of January 27, 2006 TytlerForCongress.com was a registered domain name with Network Solutions.

That's a pretty good sign that Tytler will be running for New York State's 24th District seat in the US House of Representatives, but it's not a clincher. Perhaps Tytler wanted to secure a domain name just in case.

This is the clincher: Bruce Tytler called me last night to let me know that he's going to be making an announcement this Sunday outside the courthouse in Auburn - and again in Cortland. An announcement made in two places is not given when a person decides not to run. When Jeff Miller announced his decision not to run for Congress this year, he didn't go two places to do it. Tytler refused to confirm or deny that he will be running, but the signs are clear.

Now, some mean-spirited rumor mongers from Cortland have been suggesting that Bruce Tytler's campaign will not be really intended to put him in Congress, but will merely be a fundraising tool to put donations in the coffers of the Cortland County Democratic Committee. Tytler's registration of the domain TytlerforCongress.com suggests that these rumors are complete bunk. The clue: He registered the domain not just for one year, but for three years.

At the beginning of a campaign, when funds are tight, such decisions are not made lightly. Bruce Tytler clearly believes that he has a reasonable chance of using the TytlerForCongress.com web site not just for a few months, as a candidate, but for a three years at least, as a member of Congress who will be running for re-election in 2008. Tytler believes that he can win the Democratic nomination, and then win against Republican Sherwood Boehlert - or whatever Republican replaces him as the GOP candidate in the general election.

Welcome to the race, Mr. Tytler.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Koziol announces campaign, claims $22,000 in donations

Yesterday, at a press conference at his legal office in Utica, Leon Koziol formally announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to New York State's 24th District seat in the House of Representatives.

Koziol promised to promote issues that appeal to right wing voters, such as opposition to abortion and support for efforts to make same-sex unions illegal.

Koziol also claimed that he has received $22,000 in campaign donations so far, although Koziol had filed no such information before the end of 2005, and filings since that time are not publicly available. The $22,000 Koziol claims still places him at less than half of the $49,000 that the campaign of rival Democrat Les Roberts had collected before December 31, 2005, and suggests that Koziol will be fighting an uphill battle for the Democratic nomination.

So far, Koziol's announcement has received little attention from the press or blogosphere, with a short blurb from Channel 10 News, a brief article from the Little Falls Times newspaper in Herkimer, and a longer article in the Utica Observer-Dispatch today.

Les Roberts Takes Stand On Cuts to 24th District Infrastructure

The Les Roberts for Congress campaign became the first, and so far the only, campaign in the 24th District to come out in opposition to the drastic federal budget cuts in education by George W. Bush. President Bush has referred to his approach to budget matters "the ownership society". All I can figure that means is that if you want to get an education, you own all the expense yourself.

Bush has suggested cutting the education budget by 3.5 billion dollars, including severe cuts to student loan programs that just last year Bush promised that he would never cut. That affects working families in our area who don't have the wealth of the Bush family to send their kids to college all on their own. The working families of the 24th District aren't asking for a handout, just a loan from the federal government so that their kids can start out their life without a mountain of high-interest debt.

Now President Bush is saying that it's just too much to ask - at the same time that he is pushing the Paris Hilton Loophole, which gives kids who inherit millions or billions of dollars from their wealthy parents a special exemption from having to pay their fair share. That kind of loophole won't help us out here in the 24th District. How many of your neighbors are set to inherit multi-million dollar fortunes?

In spite of all that, Sherwood Boehlert loves this budget, because it throws him the promise of a little bone, maybe one million dollars or so, with which Boehlert thinks he can buy our votes. None of the money is guaranteed, you understand, but Boehlert has his hopes, so he's declared that the Bush budget has "bold and much-needed" elements.

Even I didn't think that Sherwood Boehlert was that far out of touch. The new budget is set to bankrupt local governments and school districts across Central New York.

Les Roberts sees through the the bull, and is willing to give us some real straight talk. Here's what the Les Roberts campaign blog has to say about the draconian cuts in the new federal budget:

"This sort of cut would have a disproportionate impact on the 24th District. We have 5 times more 4-year universities per capita than the national average. This represents a great number of students who will have to struggle a bit more to afford a college education. While the President is talking about investing money in math and science education, he appears to be forgetting that for many - if not most - people around the country, college is one of our largest lifetime expenses... As a Congressman, Les would not only use his vote to serve as a check on this White House, but would also use the vital oversight role given to Congress to make certain the President keeps the best interests of the country, not special interests, at the front of his mind."

Les Roberts has set the standard of integrity on the budget issue for the 24th District campaign. It is now up to the rest of the candidates to join Les Roberts in his stand. I'm waiting to hear what they have to say.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sherwood Boehlert Has a Funny Idea of Prosperity

I was struck by the audacity of Sherwood Boehlert's statement about the new federal budget that I read in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle this morning.

"It is a bold and much-needed step to ensure our future prosperity," Boehlert said. He was talking about the American Competitiveness Initiative, which will distribute $380 million across the United States. Congressman Boehlert is apparently hoping that some of that $380 million might fall into the 24th District. That's a sweet hope, but there isn't much substance behind it. As the lame duck outgoing chair of the House Science Committee, Sherwood Boehlert just doesn't have the clout to bring much money into the 24th District any more.

Besides, any money that does come into our area as a result of the American Competitiveness Initiative will be overshadowed by the huge amount of money that will be sucked out of our region by the Bush Budget's immense cuts to the kinds of social programs that make up a large part of the 24th District's economy.

Sherwood Boehlert is clapping his hands in the hope that he will get a fraction of $380 million dollars in spending to our district. But what he isn't telling you is that the same budget he refers to as "bold and much needed" will rip money out of our local economy. What is $380 million dollars compared to the $36 billion that Bush and Boehlert will take out of the Medicare program for our senior citizens? What is it compared to the $5 billion that Bush and Boehlert will be taking away from assistance to farmers in rural districts like ours? What is it compared to the $4.9 billion that Bush and Boehlert will take away from medical care for children - children, for pity's sake?

The American Competitiveness Initiative is a drop in the bucket, and Sherwood Boehlert is tossing the whole bucket of water out the door. A fact is a fact - Sherwood Boehlert causes more problems for the 24th District than he solves. He doesn't have the strength to stand up for our real needs here, and as a result, Boehlert oversees a virtual flood of money leaving our local economy, never to return.

We will all be paying for decades for the "bold" withdrawal of federal funding from our district. Without the help from the federal government we need and deserve, our state and local governments will be left holding the bill, and our taxes will all go up, thanks to Sherwood Boehlert.

But, then again, Sherwood Boehlert is likely retiring from Congress this year, so maybe he feels like he doesn't need to worry about it. And, with wealthy friends like Walter Rich, Sherwood Boehlert will always be taken care of. Who knows - perhaps after he takes a year off from work in 2007, Sherwood Boehlert could return to Washington D.C... as a lobbyist.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Les Roberts Campaign Adds a Subsidiary Blog

In an expansion of its domination of the online campaign space, the Les Roberts for Congress campaign has added another resource to its web presence. Over the weekend, Josh Lozman, the campaign manager for Les Roberts, started his own blog, chronicling his own thoughts on campaign issues and the process he's going through working with the candidate and local Democratic activists.

It's called On the Trail With Les Roberts, and it promises to be an interesting combination of personal reflections, political analysis, and professional insights into the working of a congressional campaign.

I'd like to see this kind of outreach from the other campaigns. Voters need as much information about their congressional candidates as possible, and giving us an insight into the kind of people who would be on their congressional staffs is a bonus. If Sherwood Boehlert would give us this kind of way to get in touch with his own staff, maybe the people of the 24th District wouldn't feel so distant from their own representative in Washington D.C.

Good idea, Josh - and thanks for the link back to Take Back New York's 24th.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Mike Arcuri's Campaign Framework

One of the great disappointments of this year's 24th District congressional campaign season has been the awful coverage provided by area newspapers. Significant campaign events come and go without being reported on for days, if at all, and the few newspaper articles on the candidates are short and scanty.

If you want to know where the two most recognized Democratic candidates, Les Roberts and Michael Arcuri, stand on the issues, don't look to your local newspaper. You won't find any information there at all.

Never fear. I've taken it upon myself to reach out to the candidates in search of just this kind of information, and both Arcuri and Roberts seem willing to provide it. (Leon Koziol's secretary still is not responding to requests, and Bruce Tytler wants to wait until after his formal campaign announcement.) So, I'll be talking about Roberts and Arcuri on the issues over the next few days.

Arcuri has yet to make a formal campaign announcement speech, but he did give a talk to a gathering organized by the Lansing Democrats last week, and in that talk, he outlined the policy framework of his campaign. Arcuri says that his campaign will focus on five main issues:

1.) Health care. Arcuri favors coverage for all Americans, but has yet to select a particular plan to get to that goal.

2.) Domestic wiretappinng. Arcuri relates this issue to his prosecutorial experience. He knows that it is sometimes necessary to get warrants for wiretaps, but says that there is never a situation where a program to wiretap the telephones of Americans without search warrants or approval after the fact is necessary. My favorite statement from Mike Arcuri on this subject: "Security and liberty are not mutually exclusive."

3.) The War in Iraq. Arcuri's position here still needs a bit of refinement. It's not clear whether Arcuri opposed the Iraq War before it was begun, but he clearly thinks that it was a mistake for America to start the war now. Arcuri says that it would not be intelligent for America to pull out of Iraq right now, but favors setting a timetable with tangible benchmarks so that American soldiers can return home as soon as they can do so while maintaining their responsibilities to the Iraq people.

4.) Taxes. Arcuri does not explain what specific proposals he would support, but cites the problem of tax credits being given to oil companies that are making record profits.

5.) Stopping inappropriate budget cuts. It is Arcuri's sense that the Republicans are cutting much needed programs. Specifically, he mentions the short-sightedness behind Republican cuts to student loan programs.