Friday, June 30, 2006

Have I Become One of the Pod People?

One of this blog's regular readers put the obvious question to me in an interesting science fiction format: Why am I suddenly writing blog entries that advocate voting for Michael Arcuri? Have I become the victim of one of those mind-control pods featured in Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

The quick and easy answer: No.

Many people regard politics as something that candidates do, and that the only role that the rest of us have to play is to either support or oppose a particular candidate. These people have tried to pigeonhole this blog as a blog written for the sake of one specific campaign, but it's not like that. My interest in politics is for the sake of ideas, not politicians. When I write about politicians, I'm only doing so to the extent that those politicians promote or oppose the ideals that I care about. I'm writing about this campaign because it's an important battle over political ideals. I'm not part of any campaign, and don't want to be.

So, this blog is not pro-Arcuri. It's also not anti-Arcuri. It's pro-progressive.

It drives those Oneida County Democrats crazy when I say this, but Michael Arcuri often fails to promote progressive ideals, and sometimes opposes them. Arcuri's supporters want us all to believe that just by registering as a Democrat, Michael Arcui became a progressive. Only a simpleton would go along with that reasoning. Arcuri needs to work a lot harder earn the support of progressive Democrats.

However, there is another side of the story. There are some things that Michael Arcuri has done that are in accordance with progressive values. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be writing about those things. There are also many things that Ray Meier, Arcuri's Republican opponent, has done to attack progressive ideals. I'll be writing about those too.

This does not mean that I've joined the crowd of unthinking Arcuri cheerleaders. Expect to see a lot of criticism of Arcuri between now and Election Day. However, over the last month or so, I think I've made it very plain why I think Mike Arcuri is a poor Democratic candidate. I'd have to be an imbecile to believe that Arcuri has no redeeming qualities, and it's now time for me to pay attention to those for awhile.

Politics is not simple these days, and I refuse to be a one-note simpleton. I'm nobody's pod person.

This brings me to reason number 3 to vote for Michael Arcuri. Arcuri has actually spoken out in opposition to the torture being committed by the Bush Administration in the name of the USA. Arcuri's position on torture is simple and strong: It's never the right thing to do.

Ray Meier has refused to take such a position. That's a gutless and amoral evasion of responsibility. As a member of the pro-torture Republican Party, Ray Meier has the duty to separate himself from the Bush Administration policies of torture. Instead, Meier is embracing Dick Cheney, who has been a strong advocate of torture.

That's an aberration from the American progressive tradition of respect for human rights and the rule of law. Torture is a disgusting practice, and anybody who fails to stand against it should be ashamed of themselves. Arcuri wins on this issue hands down.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Michael Arcuri Stands for Strong Congress

Reason #2 to vote for Michael Arcuri for Congress: Democrat Michael Arcuri advocates a strong Congress, while Ray Meier proposes more of the same weak and meek representation.

Mike Arcuri recognizes that the Executive Branch of the federal government has taken more power than the Constitution provides for. Arcuri acknowledges that the President of the United States has violated the law. Arcuri has spoken in favor of a strong Congress that will stand up to the President and restore the normal state of checks and balances between the three branches of government.

Arcuri states,
"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."

Republican candidate Ray Meier has said nothing to indicate that he is willing to act to restore the systematic order in federal government that underlies the law and our liberty. We cannot trust Ray Meier to do what is necessary to preserve the centuries-old balance in government that has kept America free.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Reason Number One Vote for Michael Arcuri

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time can tell that I'm not very excited about Michael Arcuri's campaign for Congress. I've been paying attention to Arcuri's campaigning style for months now, and I've found his operation to exhibit a maddening combination of arrogance and incompetence. Arcuri has yet to do much to earn the support of New York's 24th District Democrats, and he's done a lot to turn us off.

Yet, for the next few weeks, I will be writing about why we should vote for Mike Arcuri on Election Day. With one reason to vote for Arcuri for every day, I'll have completed a list of 20 reasons at the end of three weeks.

Why? Why, if I don't think that Michael Arcuri is a very good candidate, would I want to write about why people in our district should vote for him?

The reason is simple. This isn't about Michael Arcuri.

There are much bigger things at stake than whether Mike Arcuri gets his next big promotion - basic American values like liberty, justice, and the rule of law. The Republican federal government is destroying the best of our nation's heritage, and we need to take a stand against that attack before the damage is irreversible.

Ray Meier has none of the self-restraint of Sherwood Boehlert. He's courting the worst of the right wing Republicans in his campaign to take our seat in the House of Representatives, and he'll vote with the worst scoundrels of the House if he gets the job.

For that reason alone, we must choose Arcuri over Meier.

Oh, but there are more reasons to vote for Arcuri than just that. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cheney to Salute Ray Meier or Shoot Him?

Sure, the official invitations for the event say that Vice President Dick Cheney will be holding a reception "Honoring" Republican congressional candidate Ray Meier, but when Dick Cheney shows up, anything can happen.

If the Vice President can mistake a lawyer for a quail, then he could certainly mistake Ray Meier for a turkey. For Dick Cheney, happiness is a warm gun, so I thought I'd issue the following alternative invitation, just in case.

ray meier dick cheney invitation

Note: This is not an invitation to shoot Ray Meier. Murder = Bad. Instead, think of it as an invitation to come and watch the literally explosive things that tend to happen when Dick "Bang Bang" Cheney is around.

Monday, June 26, 2006

DCCC Backs Away From Michael Arcuri

When will the Arcuri for Congress campaign admit that it has serious problems?

As a reader here pointed out today, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) appears to have abandoned consideration of Michael Arcuri as a serious contender. Arcuri is given no part to play in the Committee's Red to Blue Program, which is described as "an exclusive program that will reward the candidates and campaigns that are most skilled, not only at raising money on their own, but at getting their message across to the voters they hope to represent."

21 other Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives, including upstate New York candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, qualified for participation in the program. But Mike Arcuri, apparently, did not qualify. Apparently, the DCCC has concluded that the Arcuri for Congress campaign is not skilled, either in raising money nor in getting their message across to voters - or perhaps is skilled in neither respect.

We Democrats here in the 24th District have noticed a serious lack of commitment from Michael Arcuri from the start. As much as Oneida County Democrats have refused to admit it, Arcuri's refusal to go on a leave of absence or resign from his job as District Attorney has crippled his campaign.

Just over four months before the general election, Michael Arcuri has yet to craft a coherent message. Most Democrats in the district still don't know who Arcuri is, much less what he stands for.

But now, we 24th District Democrats have no other choice than Arcuri. As Arcuri's supporters are so eager to tell other Democrats, Michael Arcuri is our candidate, whether we like it or not. That's hardly the kind of message that will convince voters to give their support.

If Arcuri does not radically reform his campaign committee soon, he will be unable to pull out of his current slump.

This is what we get for having no primary election. This is what we get when back room deals instead of grassroots Democratic support bring the Democratic nomination to a candidate. This is what we get when a candidate turns his nose up at the Internet and refuses to to interact with those of us who could have been among his strongest supporters.

What disgusts me most about this situation is that the same DCCC that has now turned its back on our congressional district was more than happy to interfere when it came to the invigorating contest we had between Democratic candidates earlier this year. None other than Rahm Emanuel declared that Michael Arcuri was a "top recruit" of his. The DCCC worked with Capitol Hill reporters to create the impression that Michael Arcuri was the insider favorite before there was any evidence for such an assertion.

The DCCC propped up Michael Arcuri to intimidate the other Democratic candidates into leaving the race. Then, having eliminated any role for Democratic voters here in selecting their own candidate, the job of the DCCC was done, and they went away.

They left Michael Arcuri's campaign high and dry. Arcuri's campaign, foolishly, appears to have thought that it could rely on the DCCC to bring victory. But was the Arcuri for Congress campaign ever anything but a puppet for the DCCC? Take away the DCCC, and did Michael Arcuri have any ideas of his own? Outside his small corner of the district, did Michael Arcuri ever have any power of his own?

Every time that Democratic critics like me have pointed out how Michael Arcuri's campaign needed to be stronger, we have been dismissed. We were told that Michael Arcuri didn't need progressives, didn't need the Internet, didn't need to be reaching out to voters.

Everything that would make the campaign a success was happening in secret, we were told. Well, now the secret is out. There is no man behind the curtain.

In an open seat contest in a year when all the political dynamics favor the Democrats, Michael Arcuri's complacent campaign has managed to take our district off the map.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Arcuri and Meier Squabble Over NYRI Fringe Issue

What does NYRI stand for? Nonstop Yawning Reaction Issue. That's what's going on outside of of the corner of New York's 24th district that serves as home base to both Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri.

Oh, sure, in the northeast fringe of the 24th District, the NYRI debate is roaring strong. Elsewhere, most likely voters haven't even heard of the controversy, and even those who have heard about it don't care about it much.

And then, what are Arcuri and Meier doing on the NYRI issue? They're arguing over who opposes the NYRI project the most. Mike Arcuri's latest statements on the issue are supposed to be slams against Ray Meier, but to most of the district, they sound more like a hissy fit over nitpicky details. Arcuri says that, yes, Ray Meier opposes the NYRI, just like Arcuri, but accuses Meier of supporting other energy infrastructure projects at other times in other places that aren't at issue now.

This is not the kind of stuff that sticks in the minds of voters. It's not the kind of material that strongly differentiates candidates from each other.

In terms of election strategy, playing around with this issue brings the congressional candidates down to the level of local politics, and threatens to derail both campaigns.

1. The number of voters who care about this issue enough to affect their choice of candidate is too small to carry victory
2. Most voters who care about this issue are already familiar with Arcuri and Meier and have likely already decided which congressional candidate they support
3. The difference between Arcuri and Meier on this issue is so slight that it's difficult for voters to tell how it favors one over the other
4. The connection of this intrastate issue to the interstate and international jurisdiction of the House of Representatives is not easy to communicate to voters
5. Most voters in the district just don't give a damn
6. Undue focus on the NYRI issue is distracting the candidates from issues that have a district-wide appeal

Democrats from outside Michael Arcuri's home turf are getting downright bored with this campaign, finding little to get motivated about. We've had one Democratic County Committee member admit that he doesn't know what to say to voters about where Michael Arcuri stands on the issues. Another Democratic Committee member, Mary Ann from Dryden, notes that her petition to get Arcuri on the ballot is lying on her kitchen table, blank. She just can't bring herself to get excited about Michael Arcuri's candidacy.

The reason is simple: Mike Arcuri isn't giving us Democrats much to get excited about. This is a pathetic state of affairs for an open seat in an election year where anger at the Republican Congress is strong. With just barely over four months to go before Election Day, what was once a red hot race with lots of action has cooled down to near freezing.

It's time for Michael Arcuri to graduate from his past as a local politician and show that he has the kind of vision and leadership that deserves our support. A shouting match over who hates the NYRI most won't do it. A plan to expand sections of route 12 won't do it. Arcuri needs to stop playing tiddlywinks with these local fringe issues, stand up, and start acting like a statesman instead of like a member of the Utica City Council.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Let Us Know What You're Doing For Us, Michael Arcuri

There's been some complaining from supporters of Michael Arcuri that we 24th district Democrats are not doing enough for the Arcuri for Congress campaign. Specifically, the complaint has been that we're not giving Arcuri enough money.

It's kind of funny, in a sad way, because just a few months ago, Mike Arcuri's supporters were crowing about how devastatingly brilliant they were at fundraising. Where is the bragging now?

Now, after Arcuri's campaign raised a big amount of money for his campaign, Democrats in the 24th district are rightfully asking what the hell he's doing with all that money. It is natural for people to hold onto their money if they can't see what good it's going to do them to give it away.

So, here's a piece of advice for the Arcuri for Congress campaign: Tell the Democrats of New York's 24th district what you're doing. Don't whine that other people aren't getting your story out for you - you have to do the job first.

Start a blog on the campaign web site. It doesn't have to be an issues blog - we know how reluctant Arcuri is to stick his neck out on the issues. Just make it a daily journal of what the campaign is doing, to show that the Arcuri for Congress campaign is active. If you go to a fire hall in a small village, write a quick paragraph about it. If the people getting petitions signed this month for the campaign have a little story to tell about meeting the voters, tell the story. Show us a picture of campaign headquarters. Give us a note about a meal that Arcuri had at a family restaurant in Auburn while he was on the road.

You don't have to reveal the secrets of your super-duper-confidential strategy for victory. Just show the Democrats that Michael Arcuri is not doing what he appears to be doing: Sitting on his hands.

Of course, I don't expect the Arcuri campaign to take this advice, but let's get it out here on the record anyway: There is a great deal that the Arcuri for Congress should be doing that it isn't doing. Improving the campaign is not rocket science. Get the candidate to be active, and show us that he's being active with just 15 minutes of work every day.

If Arcuri can't muster even that effort, what the hell is he running for Congress for?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Opportunity for Michael Arcuri on Iraq

Here's the big opportunity for Michael Arcuri to set everything straight on the Iraq War issue. Sure, there is some confusion about whether Arcuri supported the Iraq War back in 2002 and 2003, but all that can be cleared up if Arcuri just speaks about what's happening in the Democratic Party concerning the Iraq War today.

There are two resolutions to end the Iraq War currently in the United States Senate, one sponsored by Minority Leader Harry Reid, and the other sponsored by Russ Feingold, John Kerry, and Barbara Boxer.

All Mike Arcuri has to do to finally make his present position on the Iraq War clear is to say which one of these resolutions he supports, and explain why.

No hard work involved. No effort at coming up with his own plan. Just take these ready-made plans to end the war in Iraq, and tell us which one reflects the vision of the Arcuri for Congress campaign.

Surely, it's not asking too much that Arcuri finally support a plan to end the Iraq War. That's not too progressive fringe of me to ask for, is it?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Arcuri Supporters' Version of Listening: Democrats are Coffee House Fringe

Yesterday, I made a request that supporters of Michael Arcuri listen to the kind of language that they use, and reflect upon the ways that the things they say are provoking resentment and anger among Democrats in the 24th District. Arcuri supporters have been spending almost as much time belittling progressive Democrats in the 24th District as they have been spending attacking Ray Meier's position or promoting what little there is of Arcuri's positions.

In response, an Arcuri supporter complained that progressives are just upset "because he didn't come to your afternoon brunch at the coffee house."

Again, I ask Arcuri supporters to listen to the kinds of things they're saying to make Democrats in the 24th District lose trust in the Arcuri for Congress campaign.

Elsewhere, an Arcuri supporter wrote the comment: "We already have the fringe voters. We need to concentrate on the mainstream people to win."

Let's translate this supposedly pro-Arcuri statement, shall we?

First, the anonymous writer who supports Mike Arcuri categorizes progressive Democrats as "fringe voters" - once again repeating language that Michael Arcuri has used to attack liberals himself. When Arcuri supporters tell us that they "already have the fringe voters", what they're trying to say is that they think they have the support of progressive Democrats in the 24th District all sewn up.

Second, when the anonymous Arcuri supporter says that the Arcuri campaign needs to concentrate on "the mainstream people", that's translated as non-progressive Democrats and non-Democrats. Here again, the suggestion is that progressive Democrats are not in the mainstream, but that right wing Democrats, Republicans and independents are in the mainstream, and that the Arcuri campaign needs to speak their language.

This argument unravels fairly easily. First of all, Michael Arcuri does not have the support of progressive Democrats all wrapped up. The reason? Arcuri's campaign has not made an effort to earn the support of progressive Democrats. Yes, that support has to be earned. It is not enough for a candidate to be a Democrat in name only. That candidate also has to be a Democrat in deed. It would have been helpful if Arcuri had gained the appearance of legitimacy by winning a Democratic primary. Instead, we now have the situation where most Democrats in the district still don't even know who Michael Arcuri is.

Many of the most politically active Democrats in the 24th District were looking forward to a primary campaign, so that there could be a discussion about what kind of Democrat should serve us in Congress, and so that Democratic voters would have the chance to select their candidate for themselves. Now, 24th District Democrats are being told that Arcuri is "our" candidate "whether we like it or not".

Arcuri's campaign has made the mistake of assuming that progressive Democrats will turn out to vote for Michael Arcuri simply because he is running as a Democrat. The weak level of financial and volunteer support, that even Arcuri supporters admit is coming from our district's Democrats, shows how unfounded that assumption has been.

Michael Arcuri still has not earned Democrats' support, so please, let's not join in the rush to encourage Arcuri to lean toward the right wing in order to convince Republicans to vote for him instead of for their own candidate. Arcuri can only win this race by showing how the right wing is wrong.

If Arcuri embraces the Republicans' right wing agenda, or tries to avoid being specific on the issues in an attempt to avoid making Republican voters angry, he will continue to antagonize Democratic voters. The result will be more of what we've already begun to see. Democrats will not write checks to a right wing Democrat or a mushy politician who tries to avoid the issues. Democrats will not volunteer for such a candidate. And, come Election Day, if Mike Arcuri does not strengthen his appeal to Democratic voters in the 24th District, many Democrats who would have ordinarily turned out to vote will simply stay home.

I'm not saying this because I want it to be true. I'm saying it because Michael Arcuri's campaign is making a series of grave miscalculations that need to be corrected.

The pathetic fundraising performance of Mike Arcuri's campaign on ActBlue compared to other Democratic candidates for Congress has been noted by one of this blog's readers. Here's today's updated ActBlue fundraising numbers for a few Democratic congressional candidates here in New York State:

John Hall: $162,088.00
Eric Massa: $$117,073.14
Kirsten Gillibrand: $9,123.06
Michael Arcuri: $470.89

I'm not making these numbers up. The Arcuri for Congress campaign is in serious trouble because it's neglecting the Democratic base. The solution is simple:

#1. Shake up the campaign staff
#2 Convince Arcuri supporters to stop attacking progressives
#3. Begin a concerted effort of outreach to progressive Democrats in the 24th District - online and offline

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Arcuri Supporters Need to Listen To Themselves

"Arcuri is our candidate. Deal with it."

"You might not feel like you're getting enough attention, but maybe you need to ask yourselves if there's a reason for that?"

"Some fringe group like the DFA..."

"The left-wingers are going to vote for him anyway, so why not concentrate on the centrists and wavering Republicans that really matter?"

These are just a few of the comments left here recently by supporters of Michael Arcuri, belittling Democrats that they need to vote for Arcuri.

A piece of advice: Listen to yourselves. When you come on here and show such animosity to the Democratic base in the name of promoting Mike Arcuri's candidacy and then ask people to donate money to Arcuri, you shouldn't be surprised that Arcuri's online fundraising is so pathetically small.

Democrats are not going to support Michael Arcuri just because he's a Democrat. It doesn't matter if there isn't a primary election. Arcuri still has to earn the support of rank and file Democrats in New York's 24th District.

Arcuri's sluggish campaigning is leading many Democrats to worry. Arcuri supporters shouldn't make their candidate's task harder by alienating the Democratic activists he'll need to win.

Ray Meier Gets Right Wing Rating of 88 Percent

In New York State, the Conservative Party is about as right wing as they come. The Conservative Party people don't just want their candidates to stand over in the right wing - they want candidates to go on over to the farthest corner of the right wing and rub themselves up and down against the wall. You want fringe? The Conservative Party is covered with fringe from head to toe.

So, it's really quite scary to see that Ray Meier, the Republican frontrunner in the conressional race here in New York's 24th District, got a right wing approval rating from the Conservative Party of 88 percent.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Michael Arcuri Fails to Make The Cut With DFA

Mike Arcuri has failed to make the cut in online voting for Democracy For America's Grassroots All-Star endorsement. Arcuri was listed as among the original contestants, but did not get enough votes from Democratic grassroots supporters to carry him on to the final round of selection.

The following Democratic candidates made the final round of selection:
Jerry McNerney - California's eleventh district
Nancy Skinner - Michigan's ninth district
Stephanie Studebaker - Ohio's third district
Patrick Murphy - Pennsylvania's eighth district
Phil Avillo - Pennsylvania's nineteenth district

A lot of assistance comes along with a DFA endorsement. That assistance will now not be coming to the Democrats in New York State's 24th congressional district.

Many of Arcuri's supporters in Utica have claimed that Michael Arcuri's campaign doesn't need to bother itself with appealing to progressive voters. They've also claimed that Internet outreach doesn't matter. Would they still make such arguments now that they've lost this opportunity?

Geneva, Cortland and Auburn Are Fringe Areas?

Yesterday, I wrote some comments about the NYRI power line project, which has a small corner of the 24th District up in arms, but which isn't registering as an issue at all for most of us. I suggested that, in Auburn, Cortland, and Geneva, voters might be yawning while Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier rage on about NYRI.

As usual, pointing out that Oneida County's issues are important to everyone in our district brought angry reactions from Oneida County Democrats. One comment referred to Auburn, Cortland and Geneva as "fringe areas". This same comment said "left-wingers are going to vote for him anyway, so why not concentrate on the centrists and wavering Republicans that really matter?"

Let's address this issue of the "fringe". Auburn, Cortland and Geneva are not fringe areas in this district. They're significant centers of population centers that are absolutely necessary to a Democratic victory this year. Ray Meier knows this, and that's why he's been travelling the whole district consistently. Mike Arcuri needs to follow suit, because if he tries to campaign the rest of the district in September without setting a foundation now, he'll find that the impact of his travels will be small.

Then there's the "left wingers". I find it interesting that an anonymous commenter should come here and deride progressive voters while using the dismissive term "fringe". There's someone else who has done that, of course - Michael Arcuri himself.

The truth is that Michael Arcuri has done very little to shore up his support among progressives in the Democratic Party, of which there are many in this District. Those who say there aren't many progressive Democrats haven't travelled the district enough. The Democratic "left-wingers", as the anonymous reader puts it, may well end up not showing up on Election Day, if the campaign keeps on as has been.

Given that this is a mid-term election, turnout is key, but uncertain. At a time when the Republican Party has lost its focus, a strong Democrat who speaks to the values of the Democratic Party and motivates high turnout can win. A wishy-washy Democratic candidate who is afraid of offending Republicans won't excite much support among anyone except those who stand to benefit personally from his election.

Isn't that what we're seeing now?

But, take my perspective with a grain of salt. After all, I'm from the fringes.

Perhaps those who sit at the Axis Mundi that is the Oneida County Democratic Committee can explain how deriding huge areas and groups of voters within our district as "fringes" is going to help get Michael Arcuri elected.

Still No Michael Arcuri Trading Cards...

Just how long can 24th District voters "stay tuned" for these Arcuri trading cards? The people are getting restless. They want to be able to trade Michael Arcuri cards now! I've heard rumors of riots in Freeville...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Michael Arcuri Picks Up the Pace

I am glad to see that Mike Arcuri has picked up the pace of his campaign for Congress. If he keeps up this pace for the rest of the summer, and then accelerates in the fall, he just might stand a chance of catching up to Ray Meier.

In one area, however, both candidates need to work a great deal more: Reaching out beyond Utica and Rome. The northeastern corner of the district is home to both Arcuri and Meier, but it does not hold a majority of our district's residents. Let's face it: In Oneida County, voters have probably already settled their opinions about Meier and Arcuri, due to long-term exposure. It's in the rest of the district that opinion is still fluid. Besides, in Utica, the hometown factor is canceled out, with no special advantage there for either.

When I see the candidates spending a lot of time on the NYRI power line issue, all I can think is that most people in most of the district don't care about the issue, and probably haven't even heard about it. That may be hard for political junkies in Oneida County to imagine, but then again, I've foound that many things about the outside world are hard for political junkies in Oneida County to imagine.

Address the NYRI issue, by all means, but there's not much to gain by going back to it over and over again while neglecting other issues that are of concern to the entire district. Practically everyone in Utica is against the NYRI. Okay. We get it.

They're yawning in Auburn, Cortland, and Geneva. So, let's move on.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

What is Arcuri's New Direction for Iraq?

Over the weekend, Democratic candidate for Congress Michael Arcuri released the following statement on the Republican resolution that supported a refusal to set a timetable an end to the Iraq War:

"Americans are looking for Congress to provide leadership in the war in Iraq. Unfortunately they are not getting it. This Republican Congress and my opponent says stay the course.

I respectfully disagree. I say its [sic] time for real change and a new direction. Today, Americans received the unfortunate news that the 2,500th American soldier has died in the War in Iraq. The American people need a real plan to bring the troops home. I say its time for real change and a new direction. This resolution does not improve the safety a single Humvee, does not provide a single additional soldier with body armor, and does not provide our troops with a real plan to win the war on terror. It is simply more divisive election year oratory. I’m running for Congress because we need real solutions and independent leadership to America’s problems and not thinly-veiled political hot-air. This is the kind of rhetoric which serves only to further divide our Nation rather than attempt promote solutions to our many problems"

It's good that Arcuri opposed the Republican resolution. The Republicans in Congress were doing nothing more than promoting the same old song and dance: An unnecessary war against an unspecified enemy with no plan for victory.

However, I we need to know more about what Mike Arcuri proposes to do differently from the Republicans when it comes to the Iraq War. Arcuri says that we need "real change and a new direction". He says that we need "real solutions" for the problem of the war.

Yet, nowhere at no time has Michael Arcuri actually proposed any solutions, new direction, or real change when it comes to the Iraq War. All Arcuri is done is say that someone need to provide those things.

It's not enough to say that the Republicans are wrong. Arcuri needs to tell us how he would like to set things right. It will take details to build a credible message. Right now, Arcuri is keeping all the details to himself.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ray Meier Supports War, DOES Fundraising

I couldn't find a better depiction of the duplicity of Ray Meier than this small statement from an article in last week's Finger Lakes Times:

"Meier, who has served the Assembly’s 47th district for 10 years, has supported the war. He was in Washington, D.C, Thursday doing some fundraising for his campaign and couldn’t be reached for comment."

So, Ray Meier supports the bloody, disastrous Iraq War, but can't be bothered to justify his support for it - he's too busy begging for money to get himself a new job.

With all of the Iraq War's death, maiming, torture, lies and money pouring out of our government, you would think that Ray Meier would have the decency to stop his fundraising for just a moment to explain what on Earth makes him think it's all such a good idea.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ray Meier Helps Wal-Mart Dodge Health Care for Workers

Ray Meier hit a new low in right wing hypocrisy when he came into Geneva to meet with business leaders there. Meier was asked a question about whether large companies ought to be required to provide health care for workers. Meier said no, and attacked people who support such measures.

It's amazing to me that Republicans can claim to represent family values, home town economies, and small businesses can defend the kind of abuses that threaten all these things. Helping big, out-of-district companies like Wal-Mart avoid their responsibilities to our communities is bad for local business, and bad for everyone who lives here.

I'd like to know how Ray Meier can claim to be against illegal immigration when he defends a corporation that is infamous for hiring illegal immigrants to work in secret behind the scenes.

If Ray Meier really cared about the working people of the 24th District, he would be looking out for Wal-Mart employees who live here, not the Wal-Mart corporation, which lives in Arkansas.

But, of course, what Ray Meier cares about most right now is getting big campaign contributions from corporate political action committees. So, instead of serving us, Ray Meier is proving what a good servant he will be to to the corporate masters of the Republican Party.

It's a sad preview of what Ray Meier would do in Congress.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Will Michael Arcuri Win? Do You Want Him to Win?

New online poll today, completely unscientific. Go over and have fun with it:

The poll asks two questions: Will Michael Arcuri win? Do you want him to win?

The possible responses:

Arcuri will win, but I don't want him to win
Arcuri will not win, and I don't want him to win
Arcuri will not win, but I want him to win
Arcuri will win, and I want him to win

So far, there are a couple of votes for "Arcuri will not win, but I want him to win". Now, I know that we've got at least a few loyal Republican viewers here, brought over by the mention of the word taxes (Republicans are like that. They start flapping around whenever you mention the word taxes - they're like moths to the flame). Will they go on over and cast a couple votes for "Arcuri will not win, and I don't want him to win"?

Time will tell. In June's doldrums of campaign inactivity, we have to entertain ourselves somehow. (I'm sure that's what Bob Hyde is doing by picking on little miniblogs.)

Arcuri Supporters Try To Put A Stop To Nagging Blogs

There is someone, clearly from Oneida County and clearly with a personal grudge of some sort related to Michael Arcuri's work as District Attorney, who has been going around starting little one-entry anti-Arcuri blogs. They're not very well written, for the most part, but whomever is creating them is dedicated enough to keep at it.

For some reason, Arcuri supporters seem very worried about these little blogs. It's kind of ironic, because these people who worry about these nagging little anti-Arcuri blogs are some of the same who keep on saying that the Internet doesn't matter.

Well, I'm less concerned about those pesky blogs than I am about the reaction of Arcuri supporters to the blogs.

One supporter of Mike Arcuri, Bob Hyde, who edits the Oneida County Democratic Committee web site and writes his own blog, seems to regard himself as a kind destroyer of dissent online - a blog crusher. He's tried to intimidate me into stopping this blog in the past, and now he's trying the same crude tactics with whomever the little anti-Arcuri mystery blogger is.

Hyde wrote last night: "I hope this round of internet excavation will put an end to the current crop of malicious, hate blogs targeting Mike Arcuri."

In my opinion, there is nothing more unbecoming than a blogger who tries to stop other bloggers from writing. Instead of trying to silence those who don't agree with us, I think we ought merely to be grateful that we still live in a country where we have the freedom to write our opinions, whatever they are, no matter how unpopular.

Monday, June 12, 2006

We Need a Campaign of Business Not As Usual

Earlier today, one of this blog's readers was disagreeing with me, a frequent, and not unwelcome occurrence. The subject of our disagreement was the topic of the importance of the Internet to the congressional campaigns of New York's 24th District.

I have maintained all along that it is the Internet that, if used skillfully and with dedication, can provide the necessary edge to a Democratic candidate in our district. The Democratic candidate, no matter who it is, starts the campaign behind the Republican, and so it's important for the Democratic candidate to campaign in ways that the Republican opposition could not anticipate and does not know how to counter. The Internet, as a new form a communication, is perfect for this sort of maneuvering.

At least that's how I see it. There have been plenty of people this year telling me that I'm full of it, and that the Internet just doesn't matter to most people and can't be an effective part of the campaign. These people reassure me that Michael Arcuri is campaigning with experienced people who know how these things are done around here, and how they have always been done.

Another reader pointed out, quite insightfully, that the last thing we need is a Democratic campaign that does things the way that they've always been done. After all, when was the last time that a Democrat actually won a congressional campaign in the 24th District? Think way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, back now.

See, maybe all those tried and true methods have been tried over and over again, and the only thing that they deliver truly is defeat. As the second reader commented, do we really want Mike Arcuri to repeat the mistakes of the past?

The answer of the people who say that the Internet doesn't matter to campaigning seems to be yes. It's these sort of people who seem to be in charge of Michael Arcuri's campaign, and that's not a good sign for how things are going to go.

If you match up a play-it-safe Democratic campaign against a play-it-safe Republican campaign in the 24th District, the Democrat is going to lose... no matter how many parades he appears in, waving at the crowd from the back of a car... and no matter how hard the Democrat panders to right wing interest groups in order to try to steal Republican votes away from the Republican.

Faced with two mushy moderate candidates, voters will always choose the mushy moderate from their own party, and in this district, the party with the most registered voters is the Republican Party.

Michael Arcuri's campaign needs to rethink its reliance on campaigning-by-numbers, cast off the dead weight traditionalists, and start moving fast and sleek - and no, it can't wait until September to come from behind. With every passing week, Michael Arcuri's campaign is falling farther behind.

Mike Arcuri: One Campaign Event Before Election!

Well, glory be! After getting almost $200,000 in contributions, Michael Arcuri has finally managed to put something on his online campaign calendar!

Wouldn't you know, it's another fundraiser.

4:00 in the afternoon on June 29th, there will be an Arcuri for Congress fundraiser at the 12 North Sports Bar on Mullaney Road, Deerfield, NY. You have to pay 40 dollars to get in.

The rumor is that if Mike Arcuri can raise enough money at this fundraiser, he'll have enough to... host another fundraiser, maybe in September some time.

Of course, the money needed to raise more money has not yet been raised, so, for now, this June 29th fundraiser appears to be the only campaign event Michael Arcuri has to put on his online calendar.

Unless Arcuri's plan is to conduct his entire campaign in secret. Arcuri for Congress - America's first top secret congressional campaign. Yeah, that explains why Arcuri can't bother himself to be seen. Sure.

Arcuri Does Nothing, What Can Supporters Do?

Michael Arcuri's campaign for Congress is at a standstill. With nothing much coming from Mike Arcuri himself (last online press release a month ago, last "breaking news" almost two weeks ago), whatever can Arcuri for Congress supporters do? What, especially, can the pro-Arcuri blogs do, when Michael Arcuri won't give them anything of substance to write about?

Time for them to investigate dissenting blogs again. Sigh.

It's been a long while now since the webmaster of the Oneida County Democratic Committee's web site announced that my days of blogging were all over. He had investigated me and come up with the startling conclusion that I write for a lot of blogs - shocker!. Of course, I never said that I didn't, but the urge in Oneida County to eliminate my online voice, as someone who wasn't a member of their Arcuri fan club, was so desperate that they had to come up with something.

It didn't work, of course. We still have our free speech rights.

Now, the same person is going after another blogger who doesn't particularly like Michael Arcuri, writing about the effort to expose that blogger's true identity. When your candidate's campaign is faltering, go after the bloggers, I guess.

It would be much more pertinent, I think, to get the perspective from an Arcuri campaign insider about why the Arcuri for Congress campaign has ground to a near halt for the last month. Maybe an article explaining what Arcuri is doing with all that money that was donated to his campaign, given that nothing is happening, would be a start. Has the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee begun to regret its support for Arcuri yet? Now THAT would be a story.

It is very difficult to write about the do-nothing Arcuri campaign these days, I know. But, you Oneida County Democrat, try. You have the inside scoop, right? So tell us... is there nothing going on inside the Arcuri campaign?

Stop trying to silence other voices, and ask instead why Arcuri's voice has become so silent.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Ray Meier Confronts Corruption - When Will Mike Arcuri?

This is maddening! One of the top Democratic issues for retaking Congress this year was lost to the 24th District Democrats this week - before it was even introduced. I'm talking about corruption. The Republicans in Congress are on the defensive on corruption, as more and more instances of bribery are uncovered, almost all of them on the side of the GOP.

This week, the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Representative Jerry Lewis was revealed to have set up secret accounts for his cronies in Canada, into which corporate lobbyists could make contributions of stock options. It was also revealed that Congressman Lewis allowed corporate lobbyists to write legislation that he then passed off as his own.

A new story like this about Republican corruption comes out almost every week. So, Democratic congressional candidate Michael Arcuri should be all over this issue, hammering his Republican rival Ray Meier hard with the taint of a Republican culture of corruption, right?

Well, yes, Arcuri ought to be doing that. But, he's not. Instead of actually campaigning, Michael Arcuri seems to be relaxing, celebrating his victories over the other Democratic candidates, and turning his attention back to the day job that he refuses to quit in order to launch a genuine congressional campaign.

So it is that the first candidate to attack the Republican culture of corruption in Congress is the Republican, Ray Meier.

A few days ago, Ray Meier issued a statement calling for significant changes to combat corruption in Congress. The statement begins:
"As Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess, Congressional Candidate Raymond A. Meier is calling on them to drop their claim of privilege status with regard to judicial search warrants, ban gifts and travel paid for by lobbyists, and form an independent bi-partisan commission to recommend further steps to restore integrity to the legislative process."

Well, there you have it. Ray Meier has innoculated himself on this issue. If Michael Arcuri ever does bother to get around to the issue of rampant corruption in Congress, his statement will be regarded as a "me-too".

Clue to the Arcuri for Congress campaign: You attack before your opponent builds a defense.

If Michael Arcuri doesn't want to bother campaigning for Congress, he ought to have stayed out of the race and left the campaigning to a Democrat who really wanted the job.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Michael Arcuri's Online Reaction Time: Eight Days

I found it kind of ironic that the press release was marked: "For Immediate Release".

Michael Arcuri finally got that press release for his plan to increase the minimum wage up on his own web site... eight days after he held the press conference.

If the campaign to put Mike Arcuri in Congress shows this kind of sluggish reaction time this fall, when the campaign should really be heating up and Ray Meier will go on the offensive, Arcuri won't stand a chance.

Hint: They call it running for Congress.

More Tax Nonsense from Oneida County Whiner

For the last couple days, I've been writing about the issue of taxes as it applies to the 24th District congressional race, and all the nonsense political babbling that usually goes along with it. Lucky me, yesterday a reader decided to supply me with a perfect example.

The reader complained that he (or she - the reader was courageously anonymous) never buys anything big locally because the Oneida County sales tax rate is almost ten percent. The reader wrote, "I bought a TV online... I paid no sales tax and the same TV cost nearly $300 more locally. If my county government and local vendors don't want to compete, let em die. I'm sick of being ripped off. If they are going to tax me to death here and ignore the skewed cost of utilities and other gouging tactics going on, then I am going to recoup my disposible income elsewhere."

My head spun listening to this complaining. Without knowing it, this person was illustrating my basic point for me. Taxes aren't the problem. It's systemic issues that truly threaten our local economies.

The plain mathematical fact is that you can't blame a $300 difference in price on a ten percent sales tax... unless... you're paying $3,000 for a television set.

If you're paying $3,000 for a television set, you're not being taxed to death. You're spending yourself to death.

Let's say, to be generous, that this person was not spending an obscene amount of money on a television set, and that this $300 difference in price was really there for other reasons.

Why could an online warehouse have a $300 lower price on a television set? Fewer workers, and fewer locations to maintain... meaning less support for economy... meaning more people looking for work and lower wages.

Why buy locally? You buy locally if you care about your neighbors and your community. You buy locally because if nobody buys locally, there will be hardly any local businesses anymore, and America will become little more than a bedroom community for warehouses and eBay.

If you don't buy locally, and you sniff at local businesses and say "let them die", you're shooting yourself in the foot.

Lack of local economic infrastructure is hurting us far more than a tax hike of a few hundred dollars per year ever could. Our kids are moving away because they can't get work here, and our communities are getting more and more of that desperate look of places that have been left behind.

Ah, but the Wal-Mart stores still glow on the edge of town, and are happy to send our cash off to Arkansas. And that Paris Hilton Inheritance Tax Break? It's not keeping money in our district, but we'll all be paying for it later, with interest.

The emotional hype about the burden of taxation does not have any relation to mathematical reality. Before we complain about a $300 tax bill, we ought to be looking at that credit card slip we're signing for $3,000 to get a plasma TV to watch the same old lame programming... from that cable TV service we pay $100 per month for.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Michael Arcuri Supports Tax Cuts, Not Tax Hikes

Maybe you think that the issue of tax cuts is important. Maybe you don't.

Let's say that you do. Is the tax issue something that the Republicans can use against Michael Arcuri? Can they say that Michael Arcuri wants to make our taxes higher?

Not if they can read.

Here's what Mike Arcuri says about taxes:

"Tax cuts should be aimed first at the working middle class, and the child tax credit should be made permanent. But I oppose tax credits to big oil companies, corporations and the wealthiest Americans at a time when we cannot balance the budget and are forced to make drastic cuts in student aid and health care."

Arcuri opposes tax credits to big oil companies, corporations and the wealthiest Americans. That's as far as that goes.

Arcuri actually promotes tax cuts for parents and the working middle class.

Plain and simple: Mike Arcuri does not propose raising our taxes.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Taxes Aren't the Problem for Ordinary Folks in District 24

There's a new flash-in-the-pan anti-Arcuri blog out there, this one entitled Stop Arcuri. While I am certainly not Michael Arcuri's biggest fan, I encourage the person who has written the one-entry blog to stop and think for a second before blathering on with faith-based Republican talking points about the economy.

So far, the blog consists of the statement:
"Why did I start this blog? Because I'm a small business owner in the 24th district and the last thing New York needs is what Michael Arcuri will bring us- higher taxes, more lost jobs, and even more schemes for wringing every last penny out of us."

I'm a small business owner myself, and I can tell you that high taxes certainly are NOT the primary challenge for most small businesses these days. The rate of taxation doesn't have a big impact on my business. When taxes are raised, it's a small item in the margin of my profits, because the tax hikes generally aren't that big - in the larger scheme of things. Likewise, when taxes are cut, it's by an insignificant amount per individual or small business. You've got to be a wealthy individual or a very big business for these tax rate changes to have much impact.

Wouldn't you know it, that's exactly who tax policy has been aimed at under Republican rule - the rich and powerful. Republican tax policy helps the big guys by sucking funding out of stuff that really helps the little guy succeed.

Ray Meier has supported the Paris Hilton Multimillion Dollar Estate Inheritance Loophole in New York State. That's not the official name of it, of course, but it's what it ought to be called.

There was already an exemption in New York State from inheritance tax for anyone who inherited up to one million dollars. Inherit $999,999.99 and you would pay absolutely no tax on it. Ray Meier thought it was an outrage that kids inheriting over a million dollars would have to pay taxes on money they didn't even earn themselves. Meier voted to increase the exemption to 1.5 million dollars.

Working families and small business owners have to pay taxes on what they make. It's a fair arrangement, on the whole. Taxes are the dues we small business owners pay for the privilege of living and doing business in a society that is stable and economically viable - maintained by the government.

The problem with the system lately is that, under the Republicans, the government has been shirking on its end of the deal. The Republicans have been funding in extravagant, ill-conceived adventures like the Iraq War, building a bridge to nowhere in Alaska, starting a colony on the Moon, and building Star Wars missile defense stations even though no viable Star Wars missile defense programs exist.

Where do they get the money? Out of the bread-and-butter programs that keep America running. So, state and local governments are shouldering a burden that cannot be sustained.

What are the real challenges to small businesses these days? How about oil at over 73 dollars per barrel? How about the cost of health care? How about the invasion of small towns and cities by big box chain stores that sell stuff made in sweatshops in places like China and El Salvador?

It's factors like these that are threatening our small businesses and local communities - not the taxes that we pay.

Criticize Mike Arcuri if you like - all politicians deserve critical examination. But, please, if you're going to slam Arcuri, do it on an issue that matters.

Monday, June 05, 2006

What Did Michael Arcuri Tell His Son in 2003?

Republican candidate for Congress Ray Meier is clearly wrong in his stand on the Iraq War. Meier supported the Iraq War when it began in 2003, and still supports it today, in spite of Abu Ghraib, in spite of Haditha, in spite of Bush's lies, and in spite of the two and half thousand dead American soldiers.

Now, what about Democratic congressional candidate Michael Arcuri? We know that Mike Arcuri criticizes the Iraq War now. In fact, Arcuri tells a story about why he decided to run for Congress, in which Arcuri's son asks his father why he wants to run for Congress. Mike Arcuri then looks over at his son and says, gosh, well, the Congress has the power to do important things, like decide when the country will go to war. Then, all dewy-eyed, Arcuri's son looks up at his dad and says, "Do you mean that if you get elected to Congress, you could stop the war? Well, golly. You ought to do it then, Dad."

It's a great campaign story, one we could easily see as a television advertisement. But, there's just one part missing: What did Michael Arcuri tell his son about the war in 2003? Did Mike Arcuri tell his son that the war was wrong, before the war started, or did Arcuri just go along with the crowd?

I'm not talking about public opposition to the Iraq War. It's become pretty clear that Michael Arcuri did not do anything public to oppose the Iraq War in 2003. He might have even supported going to war against Iraq.

Arcuri supporters say that their candidate just couldn't have taken a stand against the war, because he was holding public office as District Attorney. That's hogwash, of course. Eliot Spitzer, New York's Attorney General, took a public stand in support of the war. If Spitzer could do it, Arcuri could do it.

But, let's take that issue of public support or opposition to the war off the table for a minute, and discuss Arcuri's private stance back in 2003.

Michael Arcuri brought the subject up by telling the story about his son. Now, tell the whole story, Mr. Arcuri. What did you tell your son about the upcoming war against Iraq, back in 2003? What did you think back then?

The answer will tell us a great deal about whether we can count on Michael Arcuri to stand up against future unjust wars, as a Democrat should, or whether he will just float along with the crowd, as too many Democrats in Congress did back in 2003.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Why is Michael Arcuri Keeping Wage Proposal Offline?

It's been days and days since I wrote about the strange absence of a press release from Michael Arcuri's on Arcuri's own web page. The press release, on his proposal to increase the federal minimum wage, was finally reported on by a few news outlets with a delay of a few days. But still, the proposal is nowhere to be found on Michael Arcuri's web page.

Now, some might see this as a sign of duplicity. The Working Families Party did, after much reluctance, finally endorse Michael Arcuri just a few days after a press conference by Mike Arcuri proposing a minimum wage increase. Some might say that Arcuri's neglect of mentioning the proposal on his own campaign web page reflects that Arcuri only made the proposal in order to get the WFP endorsement, and now that he's got the endorsement, he's going to let the issue drop from his campaign.

That would be consistent with Michael Arcuri's pattern of dealing with other Democrats. From what I've been told, Arcuri told members of the Les Roberts campaign that he would be speaking out more strongly on their progressive issues, including the Iraq War and energy alternatives, and would even use the Les Roberts policy papers. Once Arcuri got Les Roberts to drop out and received an endorsement from Arcuri, those promises were forgotten.

But then, I look at that empty calendar on the Arcuri for Congress web site. I look at the months-old goofy promise that very soon, voters could have Michael Arcuri trading cards for their very own. I look at the way that no "breaking news" or press releases, or new issue statements have been added to the Arcuri for Congress campaign in weeks.

Then, I decide to give Mike Arcuri the benefit of the doubt, and conclude that his campaign either has very little control over its own web site, or has forgotten about it.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Raising the Federal Minimum Wage Makes Sense

Some have said that Michael Arcuri's proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 makes no sense as a campaign issue in the New York 24th District race for Congress, because New York State already has a good minimum wage that will rise to $7.15 next January.

These detractors are missing the larger picture.

First of all, raising the federal minimum wage is the right thing to do. No matter where they live, Americans deserve to get a fair wage.

Secondly, raising the federal minimum wage will help workers in New York State, because the minimum wage in New York State will soon be raised to $7.15. How is this possible? Having a wide gap between the New York State minimum wage and the minimum wage in other states acts as an incentive for businesses to relocate to other states. That hurts workers in the other states and in New York State. Having a better minimum wage across America that meets the New York State standard benefits workers and businesses that want to stay in New York State alike.

Mike Arcuri knows this, and that's why he's made his proposal. The other day, Arcuri explained, "We don't want to create an incentive for businesses and jobs to leave the state because the minimum wage is lower in other places."

Politicians like Ray Meier who oppose raising the minimum wage will only benefit big businesses in states like Mississippi and Arkansas that don't value working families. Let's not let New York slide down to the low standards of those states. Ray Meier has no place representing New York's 24th District in the US House of Representatives. Let him go down to Toadsuck, Arkansas and run for Congress there.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Brad Jones Drops Out of the 24th District Race

Today, Brad Jones dropped out of the race to gain the Republican nomination for New York's 24th District seat in the United States House of Representatives. On the Republican side, Ken Camera is a nominal candidate, but there is no indication that he has the power to actually get enough signatures on petitions this month to get on the ballot for the primary in September. Now, on both sides, for both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, ordinary voters will have no role in choosing which candidate will represent them in the general election.

With a Ray Meier vs. Michael Arcuri race, regional loyalty should not be a factor. Both Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri are centered in Oneida County. Now, the determining factor in the general election will be which candidate will be able to reach out beyond the northeast corner of the district. Most voters don't live in Oneida County, after all.

The candidate who travels more to make personal connections across our rambling district will be the victor. Ray Meier starts ahead. If Michael Arcuri is to stand a chance, he needs to start moving outside of his comfortable home turf as soon as possible. With the demands of Arcuri's day job as Oneida County District Attorney, things don't look good for the Democrats.

Only through a dramatically energetic Arcuri campaign or through a a big mistake from the Meier campaign will the anti-Democratic dynamic be overcome. We're waiting, Mr. Arcuri. Monday would be a good start for a campaign re-launch. Are you up to the task?

Michael Arcuri and the Wages of Silence

I am told that Michael Arcuri had a press conference yesterday, during which he called for an increase in the federal minimum wage. That's great. Mike Arcuri should be talking about the minimum wage - it's an issue that matters to a lot of people in our district, and raising the minumum wage is the right thing to do.

But where was the news of the event?

The Utica Observer-Dispatch didn't give it any coverage this morning. Neither did any other local newspapers that I can find - or television stations, or radio stations.

We could blame a media conspiracy of silence, but then again, there is one particular news outlet that could never be accused of being part of an anti-Arcuri conspiracy: The Arcuri for Congress web site.

Michael Arcuri's own campaign web site mentions nothing about the press conference, or about the minimum wage increase proposal. Why?

I have seen many political campaigns flounder because of a lack of control over their own web site. They hire expensive firms to do web design and maintenance, but these firms take control of the site, only making updates when it's convenient for them to do so.

The fact is that it really isn't very hard at all to add a new page to a web site, once the content is written. Presumably, Mike Arcuri had a short statement to make at yesterday's press conference. All that had to be done was copy and paste the text of that statement into a plain text format, add a few html tags, and it could be online with just 5 minutes of work.

I'd like to believe that the problem with the silence from Arcuri's own campaign about the candidate's activities has something to do with a stubborn web design company playing some kind of weird control games. The alternative explanation is just too depressing to think of without a shudder.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Where is Michael Arcuri?

Republican Ray Meier is getting out into the district. A couple news items from the last few days shows Meier visiting Waterloo and Cortland, organizing supporters and spreading the word of his campaign.

Where is Mike Arcuri? What's he been doing to campaign for the last couple of weeks? There is no public evidence of activity. His campaign calendar is empty. There are no press releases. There is no "breaking news". People from the Oneida County Democrats write to me that I ought to understand that this is the fundraising season, so Michael Arcuri is working behind the scenes to raise more money.

That may be true, or not. I won't challenge the fact that Michael Arcuri is good at raising money, but there's more to a campaign than getting wealthy donors to write fat checks. In the end, checkbooks don't vote. Arcuri has only five months now to reach out to the Democrats and independent voters of the 24th District, but just as was the case at the beginning of his campaign, people are waiting... and waiting... and waiting. Across the 24th District, Democrats are yawning, forgetting that there even is a campaign.

Mike Arcuri starts this race as the underdog, but he's acting as if he's got a comfortable lead. While Ray Meier spreads the word, travelling the district and maintaining an active campaign, Michael Arcuri seems to be settling back down into his work as District Attorney.

It's a shame, because Ray Meier is out there spreading the wrong message, without anyone to counter him. Ray Meier recently made a hypocritical statement decrying the theft of private information about veterans from a VA database. Meier left an opening for a piercing counterattack when he said about the theft, "There must be great care taken to ensure the privacy of all Americans and to strengthen federal laws to protect against identity theft."

The obvious irony is that George W. Bush has flouted long-established communication laws and the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, along with the legally binding privacy agreements made between telephone companies and their customers in order to engage in much the same kind of identity theft as occurred with the VA records. Yet, Ray Meier doesn't seem to have any problem with that. Ray Meier stands with President Bush, your privacy be damned.

Here was a great opportunity for Michael Arcuri to speak out, to point out that Ray Meier and the Republicans are not willing to protect Americans' privacy and liberty when it really counts, and to show that Democrats are different, and will stand up against Republican big government to defend the American way. But, Arcuri didn't take the opportunity. He remained silent. Arcuri didn't even issue a release about the veterans' information theft to show how the Republicans are doing a poor job of supporting the very people they send to war. No one spoke up for Democrats in our district on these important issues. Arcuri allowed the Republican voice to have its say without a challenge.

When was the last time Arcuri was campaigning in Cortland? Has Arcuri ever campaigned at all in Waterloo?

Democrats deserve better than this. If Arcuri isn't willing to spend five months of his life running as hard as he can, then he shouldn't have started his campaign for Congress.