Monday, July 31, 2006

First Thing You Do, Arcuri, is Get a New Web Firm

"Michael Arcuri Trading Cards
Stay tuned for a fun new way to learn about the candidate and the 24th Congressional District!"

First thing you need to do, Michael Arcuri, is get a new firm to take care of your web page. Stuff like this should not be allowed to stand up on the site for as long as it has. If anyone ever was really tuned in to this silly idea of trading cards, they've tuned out months ago.

This brings me to independent volunteer opportunity #5 - Arcuri's campaign is quite clumsy online, and needs some help. Arcuri makes speeches without making the information available online, engages in a debate against the Republican and doesn't even mention it on his web site, and isn't bothering to put any items on his campaign calendar online.

Weeks ago, I suggested a revamp of Arcuri's campaign, to include a new person with the sole focus of improving online outreach. But, heck, I don't expect the Arcuri for Congress campaign to take my advice. I'm just that kooky guy from over in Trumansburg, right?

Well, this is a ball that ought to be picked up by someone. If there is a group of Arcuri supporters out there that cares enough about electing a Democrat this year to admit that there are some areas for improvement in the Arcuri campaign, they'll do what Arcuri's campaign seems unwilling to do: Set up a web site that actually communicates with people about what the Arcuri campaign is doing.

Take the speeches that Arcuri won't publish, and publish them. Put up the good news about the Arcuri campaign that Arcuri won't bother to put online, and put it online. Create a calendar, and fill it with Mike Arcuri's campaign activity, so that people won't think that the Arcuri campaign has gone dead.

Sure, it'll take a bit of work, but someone's got to do it, and the Arcuri campaign doesn't seem to think it matters.

It matters.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Take the Lead, and Nitpicking Won't Matter

In this election, it is time for Michael Arcuri to take the lead.

No, I'm not talking about the lead in the polls, or the lead in the fundraising. I'm talking about taking the lead, as one partner must do on the dance floor. It is time for Mike Arcuri to stand up, hold his head up straight, and demonstrate some leadership.

The essence of leadership is the ability to define the terms of whatever competition one enters. In a race, a leader sets the pace for others to follow, even if he is not at the head of the pack. In a political campaign, a leader defines the issues that matter and forces his opponent to address them.

Right now, Michael Arcuri's campaign is allowing Ray Meier to take the lead. Arcuri has no choice, because he doesn't have any leading moves prepared himself.

The issue that leads the discussion at present is whether the Arcuri for Congress campaign should have taken a check from someone who turned out to be a convicted felon. A number of connected checks, all from people connected to an insurance company under investigation for fraud, were accepted by Michael Arcuri at first, but then, when questions were raised, were returned.

Although many Democrats don't want to admit it, suspicions about the donations are quite valid. There are signs that there's more to the donations than meets the eye. An article in the Observer-Dispatch makes the point quite well in describing the strange behavior of one of the donors, Michele Consiglio:

"I personally made the contribution because I feel Mr. Arcuri is the man for the job, and it came out of my money," said Consiglio, 45.

Consiglio declined to give her salary. The mean average for a paralegal salary in New York state is $47,460, according to the state Department of Labor.

When asked why Arcuri is the best candidate for the job, Consiglio said she had another call to take and asked an Observer-Dispatch reporter to hold."

The article further points out that Consiglio appears not to be registered to vote.

The important thing is that there is no evidence yet that Michael Arcuri did anything that could at all be regarded as a crime. These issues of campaign financing, and who wrote what check, working for what employer won't stick in voters' minds - if voters are given anything else to think about.

Michael Arcuri's problem with this issue is due to the fact that he hasn't given voters much else to think about. All summmer long, with no primary opponent, Michael Arcuri should have been busy defining the debate, communicating powerful positions on the issues that matter to people across the district. Arcuri has been slow on his feet, ignoring many opportunities to land solid blows against Meier, staying silent on most issues, and wasting his time with the NYRI issue, which doesn't motivate voters outside the corner of the district where Arcuri and Meier both already have established political identities.

Jordan Karp, Arcuri's campaign spokesperson, says that voters don't want to hear about who wrote what check to which candidate. Rather, Karp says, voters want to hear about issues like the war in Iraq and health care.

Karp's right. The trouble is that the Arcuri for Congress campaign hasn't really been doing much on the issues of the war in Iraq and health care. Michael Arcuri has yet to develop a comprehensive, coherent, and compelling policy for dealing with either the war in Iraq or health care... or if he has, he sure hasn't done a good job communicating about them. Take a look at Arcuri's web site, and you'll see the two same old tired sound bites that offer vague statements but not much in the way of clear solutions.

When Les Roberts dropped out of the race and endorsed Michael Arcuri, it was suggested that Arcuri's campaign would make use of the considerable experience and expertise that Roberts possesses on both the Iraq War and health care, in order to develop impressive policy positions in both these areas. To date, Arcuri has yet to do so, and that's been a foolish, arrogant choice. Arcuri may have had unbeatable muscle in his political machine, but in terms of content, he was clearly outclassed by Roberts. Arcuri's policy weakness has made him vulnerable and reactive when he ought to be commanding.

We Democrats have been hearing for too long now that we need not worry, that everything is going according to plan, and that the Arcuri campaign has some secret ingenious plan that will make everything all right. Everything is not all right. In a swing district campaign for an open seat in a year in which the Republicans are more unpopular than they have ever been in living memory, the Democratic candidate ought to be making a vigorous performance and maneuvering the right wing candidate into a corner.

It's long past time for Arcuri's campaign to stop making excuses and start taking the initiative. I've been writing articles promoting Arcuri's campaign on this blog for weeks now, though, as longtime readers know, I'm not wild about the way that Arcuri is runnning for office. From the beginning, Arcuri has taken too much for granted, and relied too much on behind-the-scenes politicking.

The reason I'm writing in support of Arcuri's candidacy is not because I've got some naive idea that Arcuri willl be a great member of the House of Representatives. He won't. But, Arcuri has the potential to be a good member of the House, and that's a lot better than can be said of Ray Meier.

I've been working, stretching, searching for reasons that voters in our district ought to vote for Arcuri. I came up with a list of 20 reasons, and the sad thing is that most of those reasons didn't really come from Arcuri's campaign at all. At just over 100 days now until Election Day, that's not how it ought to be. Arcuri ought to have plenty of information supporting his campaign available, ready for supporters to use. Instead, Arcuri's Democratic supporters have to make it up for themselves on the fly. The pro-Arcuri bloggers have largely dried up, making one or two reactive posts per week. Arcuri isn't giving them much to say, and they seem tired of doing all the work themselves.

Campaigning on evenings and weekends isn't cutting it. Michael Arcuri has a job that demands more than 40 hours a week of attention, and that's rough. On the other hand, it's the job that he was elected to do just last November - the job that he's using as his platform for this campaign. Arcuri can't very well quit or take a leave of absence from being District Attorney now. So, it's Arcuri, not Meier, who is in a corner. Perhaps Arcuri ought to have anticipated these problems before he started his campaign.

So, I hate to nitpick, but if Michael Arcuri would stand up and take the lead, he wouldn't have to worry about nitpicking.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sherwood Boehlert Votes to Spread Nuclear Technology Overseas

Need a reminder how dangerous it is to vote Republican?

How about a nuclear reminder?

Okay, here you are: This week, Republican Sherwood Boehlert voted in favor of a plan concocted by George W. Bush to send nuclear technology and nuclear fuel overseas. No, the nuclear fuel and technology wouldn't go to a US military base. It would go to a foreign country - one that already has nuclear weapons, has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and one that has recently tested a long-range missile (just like North Korea).

Think that sounds crazy? You're right - it's absolutely insane.

The government that will be getting this nuclear technology and nuclear fuel will, as a result, be able to transfer more of its resources to its nuclear weapons program. George W. Bush, Sherwood Boehlert, and all their Republican buddies are rewarding India for refusing to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the very same treaty that Bush used to justify the invasion of Iraq. They're rewarding India for making nuclear weapons. They're sending a clear message to nations like Iran and North Korea: If you manage to make some nuclear weapons, we'll give you a special prize of yet more nuclear technology and fuel to make more bombs with.

Think that India is a responsible government? A country we can trust with nuclear technology? Think again.

Just yesterday, it was revealed that India has sent technology to Iran that could be used to make missiles to carry nuclear missiles. This isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened, either. In the last three years alone, India has been caught spreading dangerous weapons technologies, some potentially related to weapons of mass destruction, across international borders nine times.

India has proven that it absolutely cannot be trusted to keep nuclear technology to itself. Yet, Bush, Boehlert and the rest of the Republican Party are intent on giving them nuclear technology and fuel anyway.

Why on Earth would they do this? This is exactly the sort of thing you'd do if you wanted nuclear weapons to be spread all around the world, to be made easier for terrorists to snatch and use against the USA.

If Ray Meier is elected he will support this madness - and worse. Meier promises to place himself squarely in the right wing extremist camp of the Republican Party.

This is bigger than stem cell research. It's more important than reforms to the campaign finance system, or adjustments to the federal tax code. We're talking about spreading nuclear weapons capability around the world here, folks, so turn off the re-runs of The Simpsons and pay attention!

We cannot afford to send Ray Meier to support these crazy schemes in Congress. No jokes. This is deadly serious.

Get busy.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Join MoveOn's Just Desserts

Method #4 to get involved in our congressional campaign without getting involved in our congressional campaign is yummy. Check out MoveOn's 100 Days to Win: Just Desserts Events. They'll be taking place this coming Monday, July 31, at 8:00 PM.

Here's how MoveOn describes the events:
"With the election a little more than 100 days away, we're organizing dessert potlucks on July 31st to kickoff our big program to win in November.

MoveOn members across the country are going to get together to share some delicious pie and launch our massive get-out-the-vote program. We'll link all the parties with a conference call featuring Senator Barack Obama and Al Franken, and we'll fill everyone in on how the program works and what you can do locally to help give Republicans their "just desserts" in November"

There are a couple of events I found going on in or near the 24th District. For those near Utica, there is an event organized by...

Katherine Collett
Post St. and Sawyer Rd. (just past Kirkland Town Park)
Clinton, NY
Link to RSVP:

Those of us in the southwestern part of the 24th District can attend the following event, which is to be held just to the southeast of Ithaca:

615 Valley Rd Brooktondale, NY
Link to RSVP:

Both of these events have plenty of space available for more participants to attend. If you choose, you could earn extra volunteer brownie points, and sign up to host your own event. It's not too late to get started - especially if you already know a good group of activists who are itching to do good and eat delicious treats at the same time.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Ken Camera Goes Away, Mike Sylvia Comes In

Progressive Republican Ken Camera is gone, but another outsider candidate has come in to take his place. Meet Mike Sylvia, the Libertarian Party's candidate for the House of Representatives in New York's 24th congressional district.

Typically, I would say that a Libertarian candidate would siphon off votes from the Republicans. In the case of Mike Sylvia, that may not be the case. Mike Sylvia is anti-war and against the attacks by the Republican government on Americans' civil liberties.

Yes, yes... For those in the northeastern fringe of our district who care, Mike Sylvia is against the NYRI.

If Mike Sylvia can actually manage to get on the ballot, independent voters may remain independent this time around, making it harder for Michael Arcuri to gain any of the territory he needs for victory.

The candidates might note how the minor parties keep running their candidates from the left - that suggests where the oppportunity this year.

Volunteer for Your Local Democratic Call Bank

This morning, I'll suggest a 3rd way for you to help out the Michael Arcuri campaign for Congress without having to wait for the campaign itself to get around to finding you something to do. Contact your town Democratic Committee, and volunteer for the Election Day telephone banks. But don't just wait until Election Day. Volunteer to help out with the effort to, between now and November, update your town's calling lists. Out with the old numbers, in with the new.

Voter turnout is the key to defeating the Republicans this year. Though Democrats are outnumbered, it's been a long time since independents have been so likely to swing to the Democratic side, and Republicans are so dispirited that many are likely to stay at home. Still, it's a mid-term election, and many Democrats will just plain forget that there's an election on - unless they're called.

Of course, a phone bank revitalization is great for more than just the campaign to elect Mike Arcuri. Local Democratic campaigns will be bolstered too. Furthermore, strengthening local Democratic infrastructure is a great way to prepare for 2008.

Give the local Democrats a call today. It sounds boring. It sounds basic. But then, often, boring and basic win the day. Do you care enough about the exciting issues of the day that are being fought over in this race to submit yourself to a bit of tedium?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Easy Independent Activism #2: Go to the Debate

Easy independent activism item #2 for Arcuri supporters: Go to the Arcuri vs. Meier debate tonight. It's at the campus of SUNY Oneonta, Red Dragon Theater at Hunt Union, at 7:00 PM. Call 607-436-3505 for information.

This is likely to be a pro-Arcuri crowd, as there will surely be a large number of students and other people connected to the campus at the event. On average, the more education you get, the more liberal you get. That's one reason the Republicans have so much antipathy to education. Join the SUNY Oneonta crowd and cheer on Arcuri. Give Ray Meier's pro-Bush policies the cold silent treatment.

And oh, yes... tell your friends, family and coworkers about it. Another Mike Arcuri name drop.

Note to Michael Arcuri's campaign: You might want to put this event as a news item on your web site and an event on your campaign calendar so that people on your side actually know about it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Michael Arcuri Bids for the Science Vote With Stem Cell Line

Read the fine print when it comes to Ray Meier's support for "stem cell research".

Michael Arcuri has come out with a good statement explaining that he supports full federal funding for stem cell research, which has great potential to lead to therapies for a whole range of maladies, ranging from alzheimer's to paralysis. Arcuri's comments on this subject are exactly the kind of thing we need to be hearing from his campaign, and were well timed, for George W. Bush's veto of stem cell research funding, Bush's first veto ever.

Right wing extremists are opposing full federal funding for stem cell research because of the minority belief within a few sects of Christianity that the blastocyst, an undifferentiated ball of cells, is a human being with a full soul and identity. Most Christians reject this belief, and accept the scientific evidence that nerves are required for thought and feeling.

Regardless of your particular belief, we're talking about the federal government here, not a church. No one is asking Pope Benedict XVI to fund stem cell research. We're asking the federal government of the United States of America to provide the funding. The religious beliefs of a minority of Americans should not enter into the equation.

And what's the alternative? The blastocysts will be thrown away. Into the garbage. To die. Like trash.

That's pro-life?

The so-called pro-life activists who are frothing at the mouth to prevent blastocysts for being used in research to develop cures to end suffering and prevent death are strangely absent when much more mature, fully thinking, feeling, breathing, walking, talking human beings are killed by the dozen in the Republicans' pointless Iraq War. How can the President use his one and only veto so far to stop medical research, all the while, sending bombs and bullets to kill with no hesitation?

More importantly for this election, how can Ray Meier support him?

Oh, sure, the headline at Ray Meier's campaign web site reads: "MEIER BACKS STEM CELL RESEARCH". Read below for the details, and you'll see that claim is a load of bunk. What Ray Meier actually supports is a draconian restriction of stem cell research. Ray Meier, as usual, is marching in lock step with the right wing loonies at the far reaches of the Republican Party. Ray Meier is standing with the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, in contradiction of plain common sense.

This matters to our congressional district. Stem cell research is a local issue for us here, a bread and butter issue, as Michael Arcuri pointed out when he said, "Stem cell research will also be a huge economic benefit to New Yorkers, since our state is home to some of the most advanced medical researchers and biotechnology firms in the world."

There's a reason that Ray Meier is trying to hide his medieval antipathy to modern medicine and science. He knows that, in order to win, he'll have to gain the small but important bloc of votes that Sherwood Boehlert counted on - those in our district who depend on scientific research and education for a livelihood.

With his irrational rejection of stem cell research, Ray Meier has proven once again that he is no Sherwood Boehlert.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Easy Activism Against Meier: Do It Yourself

Yesterday, I completed my list of 20 reasons to vote for Michael Arcuri on Election Day. The project has been one in which I've learned to type while holding my nose. Long-time readers here know it's no secret that I'm not at all fond of the way that the Arcuri for Congress campaign has been going about its business. It's been more a campaign of excuses than a campaign of positive reasons to vote for Arcuri. I still have yet to see a single, coherent argument come out of the Arcuri campaign about what makes Arcuri is a worthwhile candidate. Does the Arcuri campaign have a list of 20 reasons to vote for Arcuri?

So, I don't like Arcuri much. Fine. This election isn't about who we like.

It's about who, given the limited choice that we have between Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri, will do the best job in Congress. That person is Arcuri. Of the two politicians, Ray Meier would do a lot more damage to our district and to our nation.

Now, I know that there are a lot of Democrats who, like me, have been underwhelmed by Michael Arcuri. Yet, we don't want Ray Meier in office. What should we do?

I sent a check in to the Arcuri for Congress campaign earlier this year, but I can't bring myself to do that again. I just don't see the Arcuri campaign using donations very effectively. I wouldn't suggest directly volunteering for the campaign either, as there's little to lead us to believe that the Arcuri campaign knows how to use volunteers any better than it knows how to use money.

What I want to suggest to Democrats who aren't fond of the aroma coming from over in Oneida County is to do some independent campaigning yourself. Over the next week or so, I'll be writing a new list. This time, I'll be coming up ten independent ways for you to help get a Democrat in the House representing New York's 24th District without. These are ways for you to help defeat Ray Meier without having to get your hands dirty dealing with the Arcuri campaign itself.

Some of these are really, really simple. But, in politics, it's often the really simple things that make a difference.

I'll start out today with item #1 on the Do It Yourself Campaign list. This one's really easy.

Commit to talking to ten people today - friends, neighbors or coworkers in the 24th District - and tell them that there is a campaign for an open seat in Congress going on around here this year. Tell them who the candidates are. Say that Ray Meier is no Sherwood Boehlert. Mention Michael Arcuri's name, and say that he seems the more reasonable of the two candidates.

That's it. It's not hard, but it's an important thing to do.

It does a couple useful things. First of all, there's an old campaigning cliche that, in order to win, a candidate needs to get his or her name in front of a voter at least seven times. They call it a "hit". I know, hitting voters sounds brutal. This level of campaigning is a blunt thing.

How would you rather hear about the name of the Democratic candidate - through a too-slick television advertisement, or from a friend? By merely mentioning Michael Arcuri's name in a non-negative manner, you're priming your friends to be receptive to other good things they hear about Arcuri.

More importantly, you're reminding your friends that there is an election on. Mid-term election turnout, even in a big year like this one, tends to be pretty low. We need to start getting people generally aware that it's the season for paying attention to politics again.

Don't expect a great reception from your friends. Probably, they'll say, "Oh," and shrug it off. That's okay. Don't get pushy. With this simple action, you're just setting the stage for future action - priming the pump. It is summer, after all, and most people are in no mood to deal with anything serious.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Reason 20: Corruption, Corruption, Corruption

Reason number 20 may seem personal, but it's really all about our collective good - as a district and as a nation. Reason number 20 to vote for Michael Arcuri is that Arcuri is not associated with William Teator. Ray Meier is.

Who is William Teator? He's a Washington D.C. lobbyist. You know what lobbyists are, don't you? Their job is to influence members of Congress. Jack Abramoff was a lobbyist.

Jack Abramoff was a slippery lobbyist, but in the end, he wasn't really very smooth. Taking the top procurement officer of the United States government on an all-expenses paid trip to Scotland wasn't smooth. It was obvious corruption.

William Teator is a much smoother lobbyist than that. How can I say such a thing? Well, unlike Jack Abramoff, William Teator managed to get the public official to pay for the trip so that they could schmooze.

Republican Congressman John Sweeney, who is facing a tough challenge from Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand this year, used public money to pay for a gigantic weekend ski trip up to the Adirondacks for him, his staffers, campaign donors, and a whole bunch of lobbyists.

William Teator was one of those lobbyists.

The official purpose of the trip? To promote the idea of tourism in New York State in Congress. The problem with that explanation is that John Sweeney organized the trip, and he's already in Congress, see, so it seems that he really didn't need any convincing.

Bob Bissen, with a firm called Petroleum Solutions, was invited. What does Petroleum Solutions have to do with promoting New York tourism? Lisi Kaufman was there. She's with a company called United Technolgies - not well known for tourism promotion. Kaufman is also the sister of Brad Card, who donated to Ray Meier's campaign this quarter but left his employment entry mysteriously blank. Ian Paul Steff, of Semiconductor Industry Association, was skiing right alongside William Teator and John Sweeney. You think tourism promotion, and you think semiconductors, right?

William Teator has been a lobbyist for the Livingston Group (and his alumni bio page at SUNY Binghampton indicates that he maintains active there), but now he appears to be working for the lobbying firm Capital Advocates, LLC.

William Teator is listed in the top 100 contributors to the Majority Initiative to Keep Electing Republicans Fund, which in turn has paid money to Congressman Tom DeLay, who has been indicted on multiple charges of corruption.

William Teator sent a check to Ray Meier this year. Ray Meier decided to keep that check.

Michael Arcuri has not taken any money from William Teator, or anyone who works for Capital Advocates, LLC.

To me, that's a damn good reason to vote for Michael Arcuri for Congress this year.

I ought to point out that William Teator has not been indicted on any charges of corruption. Still, I'm not left feeling comfortable with his influence with Ray Meier. Are you?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ray Meier Lacks Breadth of Endorsements

Reason number 19 to vote for Michael Arcuri: Ray Meier's endorsements are exceptionally narrow, when compared to the endorsements Mike Arcuri has received.

What kind of endorsements has Ray Meier received? No local organizations. No individuals. No working people. The only endorsements that Ray Meier has managed to earn are those of the county Republican Party committees, and a couple county Conservative Party endorsements. That's it.

Michael Arcuri's campaign for Congress, on the other hand has gotten the county Democratic committee endorsements, plus endorsements from prominent local individuals, and endorsements from local organization. Michael Arcuri has support from many labor unions, a testament to the appeal of his campaign to the working people of New York's 24th congressional district.

There's a good reason that most of Ray Meier's campaign money comes from outside of our congressional district: Meier has failed to make a positive impression here. If I have to choose between the candidate that takes a check from the General Motors political action committee and the candidate who has earned the endorsement of New York State's chapter of the Northeastern Police Conference, I know who I'll be voting for in November.

It won't be Ray Meier.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A campaign of individuals or of committees?

I'll be the first to admit that Reason #18 to vote for Michael Arcuri is not a blockbuster. In fact, the difference between Arcuri and Meier in this regard is less than I expected it to be. Nonetheless, the difference is there.

Between April and June, while Ray Meier's campaign got barely over one-third of its dollars from individual donors, Michael Arcuri's campaign got nearly half of its money from individuals. Ray Meier's campaign relied more on big money donors from outside the district than Arcuri did.

In the last quarter, Ray Meier's campaign for Congress received 39.9% of its money from individuals. The rest came from political action committees run by corporations and right wing special interest groups. Michael Aruri's campaign received 47.6% from individuals.

Both campaigns are failing to reach out to voters here in the 24th district. Both candidates have been too aloof from the people they'll need to be working for them to win the election.

Still, Arcuri can say that more of his effort has been focused locally, as opposed to with national power brokers. Ray Meier's campaign seems to regard the people of the 24th District as of secondary importance.

It is a difference that counts. We need a representative who is coherent and articulate in national issues, but hears the voice of local voters. As Ray Meier's campaign is more dependent upon the national sources of Republican power, so would his work in Congress be. Our representative ought to have his roots in our district. Michael Arcuri could do better in this respect, but he is clearly preferable to distant and distracted Ray Meier.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ray Meier is Totally Out of Touch on Health Care

On health care, Republican Ray Meier really doesn't get it. I mean, he really, really doesn't get it. Check out what Ray Meier has to say about health care, and you'll see what I mean:

"The key to better and more affordable health care lies in our nation's top notch medical knowledge and research, information and communication technology, and the desire of our people to direct their own medical care without interference from government or big insurance companies."

"Advances in communications and "telemedicine" can render the knowledge and skill of the best experts available anywhere."

Pardon me, but what the hell is this? Has Ray Meier lost touch with reality?

The problem with American health care is not with quality, but with access. Every year, more and more Americans can't afford health care at all, and those who can afford it are being asked to pay more for it every year. The number of people without health care, or partial coverage that only gets activated in case of medical catastrophe, is huge.

Setting up "telemedicine" centers where we can talk to doctors through an Internet connection is not going to solve this problem. Information technology systems are not going to solve the problem. If Ray Meier doesn't realize this, he's completely out of touch with the lives of people living in New York's 24th congressional district.

Michael Arcuri gets it. He understands the nature of the problem. Not everyone agrees with his solutions, and can debate with him the relative merits of single payer systems versus other alternatives, but at least Mike Arcuri isn't wandering around spouting off some right wing think tank egghead nonsense about the need for "telemedicine".

Here's how Arcuri describes the problem:
"Over 45 million Americans do not have health insurance, and the number increasing every day. Health insurance costs continue to escalate for those lucky enough to have it. Businesses are increasingly crippled by the cost of providing health insurance and are either dropping it as a benefit or passing on the cost to employees."

What Arcuri talks about is the nature of the health care crisis we're facing here in the 24th district. We need a representative in Congress who understands the reality of the health care crisis. That's reason number 17 to vote for Michael Arcuri.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

So long, Ken Camera

Republican Ken Camera may not have stood a snowball's chance in hell of getting the Republican nomination for Congress in New York's 24th congressional district, but he never quit until he actually, literally did not have any other choice. As predicted, Ken Camera could not get the necessary number of signatures to get himself a place on the Republican ballot.

Camera blames the petition drive failure on his late start. That might have played a small part in the trouble, but the real barrier Camera faced is that he was running a progressive campaign in the Republican Party. That's a load of fun, I'll bet, but it's doomed to failure.

Thanks for running anyway, Ken. You made the race more fun at times. Ray Meier, who plays the standard Republican blowhard, is not half as interesting to watch. His craven politics come in a form about as stimulating as cold, gray oatmeal with no sugar.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Valero shows what's wrong with Ray Meier

Reason #16 to vote for Michael Arcuri: Republican Ray Meier is the Valero Energy Corporation's candidate in New York's 24th congressional district.

Valero is a big energy company that you probably know best from their gas stations, which have been popping up all over America in recent years. What you probably didn't know is that Valero is the sixth biggest corporate contributor to political campaigns from the crude oil industry.

They set up the Valero Energy Corporation Political Action Committee, which works to influence politicians in order to promote its corporate agenda in Congress. That influence is bought through campaign donations, and that corporate agenda is to fight laws that keep our water and air clean, and to reduce corporate accountability to the people. They're pro-pollution and against alternative energy sources.

You know when they talk about super high oil company profits in spite of record high gasoline prices? They're talking about Valero.

Ray Meier is taking money from Valero.

You heard that right. Ray Meier is taking money from Valero, and using it to pay for his campaign here. And is Valero a company that has its headquarters here in our district, or anywhere else in New York State? Oh, no. They're based in San Antonio, Texas. The Valero Energy Corporation doesn't provide any substantial economic resources to our district. They just plop down a few chain gas stations, and then suck the profits from those stations down to Texas - taking more money out of our local economy.

But Ray Meier is taking money from them. Valero Energy Corporation is bidding to make Ray Meier their man.

If you have any doubts about how radical the political agenda of the Valero Energy Corporation is, just take a look at their record of donations to the 2006 congressional elections so far. 89% of their PAC donations went to Republican candidates. Only 11% of their donations went to Democrats. The Valero Energy Corporation Political Action Committee is a part of the right wing political machine.

Ray Meier is now hopping on board the Valero Energy Corporation's political machine. Are you going to join Meier, and let Valero take you for a ride?

valero right wing corporate PAC money

You have a choice. The smart choice, for our local economy, for integrity in government, and for clean air and water, is to say no to Ray Meier, and no to Valero. On Election Day, show Ray Meier that we voters in Central New York cannot be bought by some powerful corporation from Texas. Vote for Michael Arcuri, who has not taken a dime of Valero's oily money.

Then, help teach Valero a lesson. If you're a Democrat who is sick of the George W. Bush and the Republican Congress running this America into the ground, show them that they can't push us around any longer. Don't buy a thing from a Valero gas station. Not one gallon of gas. Not one overcooked slice of pizza. Not one Twinkie.

Ray Meier Wants Kangaroo Courts

Reason #15 to vote for Michael Arcuri: Ray Meier supports George W. Bush's plan to set up kangaroo courts for the prisoners of war held at Guantanamo Bay. He said so this morning on WRVO, Oswego's NPR station. He said he supports Bush's efforts to get military tribunals approved through Congress.

But what kind of military tribunals is Bush seeking, and Meier supporting? Republican Senator John Warner recently told reporters that he's astounded that, in spite of what Bush told Warner at a recent meeting, Bush now says that tribunals for the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay that meet the minimum standards of the Uniform Code of Military Justice would be "impossible".

Bush wants military tribunals that don't meet standards of military tribunals. He wants to throw out all the standards that the military itself has set for such circumstances, in order to make it nearly impossible for fair and open trials to be conducted.

Bush wants to set up kangaroo courts.

Even the Republicans in Congress say that Bush has gone too far. But Ray Meier? This morning, Ray Meier says he supports Bush. He supports the plan to institute kangaroo courts.

This is not a banana republic. This is the United States of America. When our government takes people prisoner, those prisoners have rights that must be respected.

Ray Meier doesn't understand that. Ray Meier wants to lower the American standard for liberty.

The people of New York's 24th congressional district deserve better than Ray Meier's low standards.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Ray Meier is No Local Candidate

Look it up yourself on the FEC web site. Most of the money that Republican Ray Meier raised for his campaign during the last quarter came from outside New York's 24th Congressional District.

Who is David H. Baker from Chevy Chase, Maryland? How about George Baker from Bethesda, Maryland? A relative, or just another Baker who gave money to Ray Meier from hundreds of miles outside our difference? What are they trying to get from Meier?

Who is Bradford Card, from Mclean, Virginia, and why is he trying to push our election toward the Republicans? Ray Meier's campaign has not yet revealed who Mr. Card's employer is. Just who does Mr. Card work for, and what kind of interest does his employer have in government business?

If Ray Meier wants to represent the 24th congressional district, how come he is depending upon money from corporations and people who have never lived in our district, and never plan to?

The answer to this last question is painfully clear. Ray Meier doesn't intend to represent our district's need. He's using us as a tool for expanding his personal power. He'll represent those from outside our district who have enough money to buy his allegiance.

Our communities deserve to be more than just a rung for Ray Meier to step on to satisfy his personal ambition. That's reason number 14 to vote for Michael Arcuri for Congress this year.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Creepy Veep - It's bigger than Arcuri versus Meier

In December, Santa Claus is coming to town. In July, Dick Cheney is coming to town. How apt. He is kind of the anti-Santa, if you think about it.

To help locals prepare for this visit, Creepy Veep has been established, bringing you information about the anti-Cheney protests to come in Utica.

In two days from now (Friday) at 2:30, there will be a community speak out at Libery Bell Corner Park, where Genessee and LaFayette streets meet in Utica. Then, at 4:00, there will be a Rally for Liberty, to, as the Creepy Veep people put it, "Stop the spying, stop the lying, stop the dying."

At 6:00 PM, there will be a pro-peace potluck, for a voluntary $2 per plate, at St. Francis Catholic Church, followed by a 7:30 PM peace walk.

The Republicans are trying to portray the anti-Cheney protest organizers as a bunch of radicals. That's an interesting electoral strategy, calling the Utica Catholic Church a radical organization, demanding radical things like, you know... PEACE.

Thanks for the effort, Creepy Veep

Reason 13: Ray Meier's Campaign is Smoking!

Ray Meier's FEC report hands me another reason to vote for Michael Arcuri on Election Day this year. Reason #13: Ray Meier's campaign is built on smoke.

Tobacco smoke.

I'm noting the contribution that Ray Meier took from the Altria Group Inc. Political Action Committee. Don't know what Altria does for a living? Well, that's because the company changed its name a few years back in order to try to escape its bad reputation. Altria was once known as Philip Morris. Altria is a tobacco company, selling cigarettes (with free lung cancer and heart attacks!) to people all around the world.

What the heck is Ray Meier doing taking money from Altria? New York's congressional district is not rich in tobacco fields, or cigarette factories. Helping Altria won't help our district's economy. On the contrary, the huge health care costs related to smoking are crippling us all, whether we smoke or not.

Altria's money is dirty money, but will Ray Meier send that check back? Don't bet on it. When it comes to corporations seeking to buy influence over him, Ray Meier inhales, but he never exhales.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ray Meier Takes Special Interest Payoff Donations

I could count each dollar as a reason to vote for Michael Arcuri, but I won't take the easy way out. Let's count them all as coming together for just one big fat dirty money reason to vote for Mike Arcuri for Congress this November.


That's one hundred ninety two thousand, three hundred and forty three dollars of money that Ray Meier took from committees with political agendas, most of them from outside of New York State, not to mention New York's 24th congressional district.

This is money from corporations like General Motors, or the Verizon telephone company, or Valero Energy Corporation - the company with all those new gas stations, or Union Pacific railroad's offices in Washington D.C. And this is just the amount that Ray Meier took in the last three months.

Do you really believe that groups like the National Fuel Gas FEDPAC and COALPAC, the political action committee of the national mining association are in business to give money away for nothing? No way. These are big players, and they expect to get what they pay for... and they're trying to buy Ray Meier a victory.

And where is all this money coming from? From Washington D.C., Virginia, New Jersey, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, California, Florida... wherever powerful organizations want to buy themselves a politician. Boy, is Ray Meier ever up for sale. That's reason number 12 to vote for Michael Arcuri.

Mike Arcuri Will Have More Power in Congress

Reason number 11 to vote for Michael Arcuri is crass, but then, some people operate on a very crass level when it comes to politics.

The fact is that, if Michael Arcuri gets elected to the House of Representatives, he will have more power there than Ray Meier would.

Both would start out as a relatively weak freshman, but Ray Meier would have the double burden of starting out with the extra burden of being a a member of the minority party.

It's becoming increasingly clear that the Democrats are going to take back the House of Representatives. It's the Democratic Party that will be able to set the agenda in the House, and Michael Arcuri could be part of that powerful new majority, better able to bring money home to the 24th District.

It's not the kind of thing that motivates my vote, but to some people, it's the most important reason to vote for a congressional candidate.

Ray Meier is Bush's Man - Reason 10

There's a reason that most Republicans in Congress are not asking George W. Bush to help them in their re-election campaigns. Oh, it isn't that they disagree with George W. Bush's policies. Rather, they see how unpopular President Bush is, and realize that the huge majority of Americans disagree with Bush's policies. They don't want to be tainted with Bush's failures.

How about Ray Meier, our district's Republican candidate for Congress? Amazingly, Meier doesn't get it. He's too dense to realize that Bush's presidency has gone terribly wrong, and that the voters know it.

No, Ray Meier is too greedy for the money. So, Ray Meier will be taking $1,000 per head from opportunists who are willing to pay big bucks in order to have their photograph taken with Vice President Dick Cheney, as if they're big buddies with the guy.

Ray Meier is kind of like those self-promoting photo junkies, only he cares more about the money. The main thing to remember is that, by bringing Dick Cheney to New York's 24th district, Ray Meier is proving that he is willing to let big money speak louder than common sense.

Ray Meier is proving not only that he is Bush's man, but that he will gladly amble up next to and become the ally of any politician who has money to throw his way.

Mike Arcuri will not be the man standing next to creepy Vice President Dick Cheney this week. Ray Meier will. That's reason number ten to vote for Michael Arcuri for Congress this year.

Michael Arcuri Will Work For Green Energy

Ray Meier talks the good talk when it comes to developing green, clean energy. Then again, Sherwood Boehlert talked the good talk too. What good did it do us?

In the end, because Boehlert was a Republican, he helped in the effort to stymie the development of alternative energy resources. Boehlert's support for the Republican leadership in Congress protected the fossil fuel economy from reform, and made it possible for oil companies to directly shape America's energy policy.

Elect Ray Meier, and it will be another 20 years of the same empty promises.

Michael Arcuri is no Republican. When Mike Arcuri promises to promote clean, green alternative energy, his words have credibility because Congressman Arcuri would be working with a Democratic Party that almost universally shares his dedication to cleaning up America's energy infrastructure.

That's Reason #9 to vote for Michael Arcuri for Congress this fall.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Reason #8 to Vote For Arcuri: Ray Meier is No Moderate

Reason #8 to vote for Michael Arcuri for Congress comes to me courtesy of Charles Evangelista, the Chair of the Ontario County Republican Party (Ontario County includes Geneva, which makes up the north west corner of New York's 24th district). Evangelista spilled the beans when he told a Fox News reporter that Sherwood Boehlert is "probably one of the last of the moderate Republicans".

Translation: Ray Meier is no moderate Republican. He's a right winger who will follow the new extremist Republican Party line.

If you're a moderate Republican or independent voter in our district, you can't count on Ray Meier to represent you well. Our district should not be represented by our a local equivalent of Rick Santorum.

When even a local Republican chief admits that Ray Meier is no moderate, you know you've got an extremist on your hands. Now, when all three branches the federal government is being run into the ground by right wing ideologues, the last thing we should do is add fuel to the fire.

Memo to Michael Arcuri: You're Running for Congress

Michael Arcuri got US Senator Charles Schumer to come Upstate to appear with him... and what did they give speeches about? Money to help the District Attorney's office in Oneida County.

Arcuri crowed about saving money by getting federal assistance in witness protection.

"Getting the trust of the people is the soul of the district attorney's office. If you are going to have any success at all in prosecuting gangs or prosecuting criminals they have to believe that you're going to protect them."

Well, that's great... for Oneida County. And it's swell... for a District Attorney.

But, um, Mr. Arcuri? You're supposed to be running for Congress! You ran for District Attorney last year. Different race, remember?

What kind of congressional candidate gets a United States Senator from his own political party to appear behind a microphone with him, and doesn't talk about running for Congress?

This is not an Oneida County race. Talking Oneida County local politics isn't going to make a big difference - the hometown boy factor gets cancelled out with Meier and Arcuri claiming the same turf.

Is Arcuri really getting out into the District? If he is, he's doing well at keeping it a secret from the areas he's visiting. Where are the newspaper articles heralding his visits? Behind the scenes meetings with Democratic committee members here and there are not going to cut it. Please, will someone get Mike Arcuri out into the district to get in touch with the voters?

Tell him he can put on his jogging shorts again, if that helps.

Is Mike Arcuri Running?

Michael Arcuri makes a big deal out of being a runner. He's got the goofy photograph of him in jogging shorts at the top of his campaign web site and everything.

But, yesterday, when politicians including Eliot Spitzer turned out in Mike Arcuri's home turf for a 5k run, was Michael Arcuri there? Not, as a reader points out, if you are to believe this morning's Utica Observer-Dispatch.

Ray Meier was there.

Is Michael Arcuri running or not? He's treating this campaign like a cake walk.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Michael Arcuri to Visit Groton - Are all Welcome?

The Lansing Democratic Committee sent out the following email message to its members this morning:

The Groton Democratic Committee will be hosting a meeting with our endorsed
candidate for Congress, Michael Arcuri, on Tuesday evening, July 11, from 8-9 PM at the Howard Farm Store off Rte. 222 in Groton. Any interested members of the Dryden or Lansing committees who would like to attend are welcome to do so.

Members of the Dryden or Lansing committees are welcome? What about other Democrats in the area? Are they not welcome? Why isn't this event listed on the Arcuri for Congress campaign calendar? What other events are going on that area Democrats have no way of finding out about?

Some clarification from the Arcuri for Congress campaign is due.

Reason #7 to Vote for Arcuri: Meier Will Never Vote to Impeach

Reason #7 is no flippant matter: Republican Ray Meier will never vote to impeach George W. Bush. Michael Arcuri might, if the circumstances are right.

This morning, the case for the impeachment of President George W. Bush got a lot stronger.

The New York Times has obtained a letter that Congressman Peter Hoekstra, a Republican from Michigan who is the chair of the Intelligence Committee in the United States House of Representatives, sent to President Bush a few weeks ago. In that letter, Representative Hoekstra wrote:

"I have learned of some alleged intelligence community activities about which our committee has not been briefed. If these allegations are true, they may represent a breach of responsibility by the administration, a violation of the law, and, just as importantly, a direct affront to me and the members of this committee who have so ardently supported efforts to collect information on our enemies."

There you have it. Peter Hoekstra, a Republican member of Congress, is accusing President Bush of "a violation of the law". This is no minor crime either. It is against the law for the President not to keep Congress informed of domestic surveillance programs of this type, and, according to Peter Hoekstra, there more secret programs in addition to the several we have already learned about that involve massive spying efforts against the American people, without the search warrants that are legally required by the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.

When specific information about these programs to spy against Americans is made public, it will make the case for impeachment that much stronger. We don't know whether a Congressman Arcuri would vote for impeachment, but we know for certain that Congressman Meier would not. Meier is a follow-along Republican, and won't challenge the crimes of his party's President, no matter how serious they are.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Reality Break: Campaigning Brings Money, Not the Other Way Around

I've just got to take a break from my 20 reasons to vote for Arcuri, a mind-bending exercise if ever there was one, to get back in touch with reality for just a minute.

Once again, the Michael Arcuri for Congress campaign has lapsed into a near coma. There hasn't been a piece of news out of the Arcuri campaign for weeks. July's campaign calendar is completely empty. The online fundraising picture continues to be pathetic.

How pathetic? A couple weeks ago, Michael Arcuri's supporters were triumphant about a fundraising letter sent out by Hillary Clinton to 250,000 Democrats, asking them to donate to Michael Arcuri's campaign through ActBlue. Nyah-nyah-boo-boo, we were all told by the Oneida County Democrats. With Hillary Clinton to the rescue, we would soon see a vital and surging Mike Arcuri, gathering money by the fistful and campaigning hard against Republican Ray Meier.

Sigh. It didn't happen. How much has Michael Arcuri raised through ActBlue? Only $7091.16 Less than $7,000 of that came after Hillary Clinton's appeal - which doesn't speak well either of Arcuri of of Clinton.

Compare this to the performance of John Hall, who faces a full board of competitors for the Democratic Primary this September. In that race, the DCCC was not able to intimidate Democrats to drop out, and as a result, the Democratic campaigns have been able to keep the attention of voters, even through the long hot summer. Through ActBlue alone, John Hall has been able to raise $204,663.00.

John Hall has made this money online while Michael Arcuri has sputtered online because Hall has been receptive to online campaigning, while Arcuri has held himself aloof from it. When I got in touch with John Hall's campaign to arrange for an interview to place on one of my blogs, Hall's campaign manager got right back in touch and arranged an interview. Hall has been gracious to bloggers across America, and so his has become a hot campaign online, and he's reaped the financial rewards. When I contacted Michael Arcuri's campaign to try to arrange an interview, I was given the cold shoulder - no reply at all. I haven't read a single online interview with Michael Arcuri anywhere. Bloggers have largely ignored Arcuri's campaign because Arcuri doesn't seem to want to work with the online media. I've written articles on this blog literally begging Michael Arcuri to reach out so that progressive bloggers could help his campaign - and Arcuri has not responded.

Oneida County Democrats have said over and over again that I overemphasize the importance of the Internet in campaigning. They say that the Internet doesn't matter to politics. It seems that old-school campaigners of this sort have the ear of the Arcuri for Congress campaign, and they have run the Arcuri campaign into the ground.

Don't believe that Internet campaigning makes a difference? Just compare Arcuri's $7091.16 to John Hall's $204,663.00. Is Mike Arcuri such a hotshot that he doesn't need that two hundred thousand dollars for his campaign?

The excuse coming from Oneida County has been that Arcuri needs to raise more money before he can really campaign. That attitude has it backwards: In order to raise money, you need to campaign first. As much as I can list 20 reasons to vote for Arcuri, the plain fact is that Michael Arcuri's campaign has yet to really communicate with voters to tell us why we ought to vote for him. So far, Arcuri's campaign looks like a half-hearted, paint-by-numbers operation.

The hour is late. Four months remain in the campaign. If Michael Arcuri cannot step up now and start talking to the voters of the 24th District in a compelling way as part of something more than a campaign waged on evenings and weekends, then the campaign will be lost to the Republicans.

Will we see a change of course from Arcuri soon? I doubt it. I see no signs from his campaign that they even are willing to admit that they're in serious trouble.

Minimum Wage: Reason #6 to Vote for Mike Arcuri

It's a Saturday in July and the grass is long, so today's reason to vote for Michael Arcuri for Congress will be short.

I've written about this before: Michael Arcuri supports an increase in the federal minimum wage, which hasn't been increased in almost ten years now.

Ray Meier doesn't. Ray Meier sides with corporate bosses against working American families.

So, reason #6 to vote for Arcuri is a simple one. By standing for an increase in the federal minimum wage, Mike Arcuri stands for the huge majority of the people of the 24th District who work hard for a living. Ray Meier stands with a tiny economic elite that makes its wealth from the work of other people.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Michael Arcuri Refuses to Join in Gay Bashing

Reason #5 to vote for Michael Arcuri for Congress this year is an easy one.

Ray Meier took place in the gay bashing by the Republican Party as they tried to pass an anti-marriage constitutional amendment denying all couples equal marriage rights regardless of sexual orientation. Ray Meier told right wing journal Human Events that he supported the anti-marriage amendment denying same sex couples the right to get married.

Republican Ray Meier is one of those politicians who is so capable of twisting the truth that he can claim to be defending marriage by trying to prevent people from getting married. Ray Meier want to help the government interfere in matters of love. He wants to prevent stable families from forming.

Michael Arcuri takes a higher moral road. Arcuri upholds the guarantee in the United States Constitution that all people will be granted equal protection under the law, without discrimination. Arcuri refuses to pick on people who are vulnerable or unpopular for the sake of political gain.

Mike Arcuri opposed the constitutional amendment to deny equal marriage rights to all American couples. On the subject, he wrote,
"I oppose unwarranted government interference in the private lives of consenting adults, and I support laws that provide equal benefits, for all citizens, to health and life insurance, inheritance and other basic rights like hospital visitation."

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Arcuri Better Than Meier On Iraq

Reason #4 to vote for Michael Arcuri for Congress:

I would love it if Michael Arcuri would get more specific on a plan to get America out of Iraq. After all, there is a huge amount of ambiguity in his statements on the Iraq War. Arcuri says that there should be a better plan for the Iraq War, but it's not at all clear what kind of plan Arcuri would support if we put him into Congress.

Considered on its own, Mike Arcuri's campaign performance on Iraq has been disappointing. However, when put into the larger context of the race against Ray Meier, Arcuri has clearly done better than Meier.

Michael Arcuri generally opposes the Iraq War without letting us know much about the form of his opposition. Ray Meier, on the other hand, is still holding onto the Republican fantasy that there is nothing about the Iraq War that needs fixing. Ray Meier's position seems to be that everything is going great in Iraq, and all that the United States needs to do there is more of the same.

Ray Meier's position on Iraq is deluded to the point of insanity. Given the choice, vague opposition to the war is much preferable to pro-war politics based more on blind faith and political loyalty to George W. Bush than any connection to reality.