Thursday, August 31, 2006

Lazy National Coverage of Arcuri vs. Meier Race

This year, we in New York's 24th congressional district have the opportunity to learn a great deal about the way that politics works - and the way that political reporting works as well. We can watch the way that the political organizations work here in our district - one of the top targets for Republicans and Democrats alike this year, and we can also watch the way that the national news media does its work in reporting on this race.

So far, it all seems to be happening from afar, and that's especially the case for the political reporting in the national press. It started back during the primary season, when political journals like The Cook Political Report told us back here which candidates the voters favored - before the voters even really had a chance to learn who the candidates were and what they stood for. The "reporting" on our congressional race seemed to be based on nothing more than a few telephone calls to insiders in organizations like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The remote reporting continues now, as national political journalists seem to regard the story of our congressional race not so much about the candidates and the issues we care about here as the way that our district can be used as a tool for the national Republican and Democratic parties. This week, for example, Devlin Barrett wrote an article for the Associated Press about the advertisement Michael Arcuri ran blasting Ray Meier's refusal to support a raise in the minimum wage. The primary angle of the article: DCCC spends money in 24th District.

The second angle: The DCCC money pays for an ad playing in Syracuse, Utica and Binghampton.

The third angle: Arcuri will refuse a pay raise. Meier accepted a pay raise, after voting against it, and Arcuri accepted a pay raise.

The fourth angle: A little something about the minimum wage... What was it again?.. Oh, yes, the whole point of the TV ad: Michael Arcuri supports a raise in the minimum wage, and Ray Meier is against raising the minimum wage.

The minimum wage angle, as far as the people of the 24th district are concerned, is the most important point. We none of us will pay lower taxes on account of a reduction in the salary of members of Congress, state senators, or district attorneys. An increase in the minimum wage would affect us all.

So, why didn't Devlin Barrett emphasize that issue, and talk about how it would impact our district? Why didn't he write about how people in our district feel about this issue?

The answer is simple and sad: Pure laziness. Reporting on the minimum wage issue as it affects our district might have required Devlin Barrett to leave his office and actually come to our district. These days, it seems, reporting on congressional campaigns, even really important ones like the one in our district, is mostly done through telephone calls, emails, and a web browser. The sources that count aren't the voters in our district, but the power brokers who look at our district as a piece of territory to be conquered.

It's easy, it's quick, and most people in the state and national audience won't know the difference. For those who actually want to know about the race and its issues, it's poor service. This lazy reporting also leads congressional candidates to follow the lead of the political reporters, and spend more of their time courting the favor of national power brokers than they do reaching out to voters here in our district.

The problems in our political system are accompanied by problems in our journalistic infrastructure. If we want to actually be represented in Washington, and not just have the 24th district serve as a tool for national political interests, then we need to find a way to have our local voices heard through this campaign. Doing so involves reading the national news media with a more critical eye - and talking back when the only news they have to report about our district is the babble bouncing around the echo chamber of reporters' offices in Washington D.C.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Will Ray Meier Take Arcuri's Pay Raise Pledge?

Michael Arcuri is serious about standing up for American workers. That's why Arcuri has pledged to not accept any pay raise as a member of the United States House of Representatives until the federal minimum wage is increased. Here's the ad from the DCCC that highlights this pledge:

It would be easy to take the cynical approach to this pledge and say, "That's an easy promise for Mike Arcuri to make. After all, everyone knows that the Democrats are going to take back Congress this year, and one of the first things they'll do is raise the minimum wage!"

Well, isn't that the point? Arcuri knows that, if he is voted in to help the Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives, the American people will finally get their pay raise, after 10 years of being denied by the Republicans. Fair is fair.

Will Ray Meier make the same pledge? You know he won't, and the reason is simple: Ray Meier is with Tom DeLay's political party. Meier is one of the new kinds of Republicans, the Republicans who, like Newt Gingrich, would rather shut down the federal government and cast America adrift in dangerous times than betray their corporate taskmasters.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Michael Arcuri Makes Good Impression in Trumansburg

michael arcuri in trumansburg paradeOn Saturday, Democratic congressional candidate Michael Arcuri came to Trumansburg for the annual Trumansburg Fair. The fair is an old one, going back to the 1800s, and has become the de facto Tompkins County fair.

In a well-organized effort, local activists handed out information about Mike Arcuri's campaign for Congress up and down Main Street, while Arcuri himself walked in the parade along with a group of supporters. Afterwards, Arcuri spoke with local voters at the fair itself.

Yesterday, I spoke some people who had been there on Saturday, and talked with Arcuri at the fair. They said that they had a generally favorable impression of Arcuri, and believe he is an electable candidate.

Did Ray Meier even show up for the fair or to walk in the parade? I didn't see him there.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ray Meier's Iraq War Plan Is All Talk

Wondering what Ray Meier's plan for ending the Iraq War and bringing American soldiers home safely is? Well, wonder no more. Ray Meier has revealed the core of his plan for winning the Iraq War: Meier thinks that the way to end the war is just to talk about it differently.

It's enough to make you want to slap your forehead. When asked by MSNBC what mistakes he thinks George W. Bush has made in Iraq, Ray Meier has only this to say:

"Where I would fault the president is: he needs to explain to the American people what the goal is, and to talk about the commitment needed to do it. That has been one of the problems."

That's it. That's really it. All Ray Meier thinks President Bush has done wrong in Iraq is that he hasn't found a good way to talk to the American people about the war. Meier seems to think that, if only Bush could find some new talking points about Iraq, everything would turn around, America would win the war in no time flat, and all the glories that the Republicans told us this war would bring would magically come true.

What Ray Meier is incapable of understanding is that the problem with the Iraq War is not that President Bush has not explained his plan adequately. The problem with the Iraq War is that President Bush does not have an adequate plan. The Republicans never have had an adequate plan for this war.

President Bush can't explain what the goal of the Iraq War is because there is no achievable goal for the United States of America in this war. That's not the kind of rosy, feel-good news that American voters are used to hearing, but it's clearly the truth. Politicians who cannot accept this reality are not qualified for public office.

Ray Meier just doesn't get it. He's suffering from the same delusions that caused George W. Bush to start this bloody and disastrous war. That tells me that, even if he knew what he knows now, Ray Meier would vote to start the Iraq War all over again.

This isn't just Monday morning quarterbacking. It's an essential issue in the contest over New York State's 24th district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, because given America's recent history, it's likely that our next representative will be asked once again to vote to approve a rush into an unwise war. Ray Meier has made it clear that he would vote yes for such a war, and that's the most important reason to cast a vote against Ray Meier on Election Day.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Reality on Ray Meier, Mike Arcuri and Jobs

It's Friday - almost time to enter that fantasy land of the weekend, that time when we operate under the wonderful, temporary illusion that we control our own lives, and that we're free to do as we choose. Of course, we're not. We all need to work, and most off us work in jobs.

Those of us who are adults aren't always happy about our jobs, but we recognize that they're essential. We don't have parents who will take care of us, and as parents we have children who depend upon our work to take care of them. Jobs are at the heart of our security - and the idea that our jobs could be taken away from us is terrifying.

Politicians know how people feel about jobs, and they're willing to exploit those emotions for the sake of political gain. I realized this in watching an advertisement created by Republican Ray Meier in which he promises that, if he's elected to Congress, "jobs will always be job one".

This is something candidates for Congress love to talk about. They love to promise that, if they're sent to the House of Representatives, they will bring a flood of jobs pouring into the home district, whereas their opponent would be absolutely incapable of doing so. It's an easy promise to make, because it requires no proof.

As a genuine campaign issue, it's a crock. Of course members of the House of Representatives work to create pork barrel legislation to pour money into their home districts, and to create local projects that create jobs. The problem is that ALL members of Congress do this, in every district in the nation. Every politician elected to the House, whether Republican or Democrat, will push for bills that create local jobs. Michael Arcuri would do it, and Ray Meier would do it - without thought of the national interest, when it comes down to it. The nation doesn't elect House members, after all - local districts do.

In the end, this issue is not one that differentiates candidates from each other. We have absolutely no reason to believe that Arcuri or Meier would be better at bringing pork barrel to our district. In fact, we have every reason to believe that both of them would be fairly pathetic at it for quite some time. As new members of the House of Representatives, neither Arcuri nor Meier will have much power, and there's nothing to do about that except to wait for whomever wins this year to become a more senior member of Congress, as the years pass by and they get more grey hairs. That's not a rational jobs program, but it's really the best they can do.

Though people love to hear about how new members of Congress will create jobs, the reality is a little bit more sobering. New jobs are not going to come pouring into our area unless the basic economic conditions that enable job growth improve. That's really a national issue, not an issue of districts competing against each other for scraps of earmarked projects.

Whether you vote for Ray Meier or Michael Arcuri, don't choose a candidate on the basis of promises about bringing jobs to the area. Look to see which candidate has the greater capacity to promote wise, sustainable economic growth for all America.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Michael Arcuri to Visit Trumansburg Fair

Meet Michael Arcuri this Saturday at the Trumansburg Fair. Mike Arcuri will be appearing in the parade down Main Street Trumansburg, which starts at 5:00 PM, and will also be available at the Trumansburg fairgrounds to meet voters and answer their questions.

This is the kind of contact that's at the heart of the best tradition of campaigning. Thanks to the Arcuri for Congress for campaign for showing up.

Is Ray Meier showing up? Oh, I hope so. I'll be back from my business trip late Friday night, and I know my kids will want to see the parade. I'll be there.

Note that Trumansburg is going through its Main Street Project construction this summer, so it will probably be best if you park and watch the parade from the southern end of town.

The Mystery of the Disappearing Mike Arcuri Blogs

I'm working this week in a place where the hotel's Internet access system is not in good shape. It's a struggle to get to any web page, or to send information out, so I'm finding that I have to exercise some economy in the amount of work that I'm doing online. As a result, my appreciation for the Internet has grown quite a bit in over the last couple of days.

So, I've been mulling over the importance of blogs to a congressional campaign - and to a member of Congress. Someone left a message here last night questioning why people who leave comments here would believe that Michael Arcuri would pay attention to what they have to say. The truth is, I don't know whether the Arcuri for Congress campaign and the Meier for Congress have people who go out online to see what people are saying about the candidates, and make a periodical report back to the campaign committee. If they don't have anyone doing that job, they're making a mistake.

I'm not saying that a blog like this one has much influence in a traditional sense. However, an intelligent candidate will use resources like blogs, and the comments that are written on them, as check on the slanted vision of reality that can be created inside a campaign. An intelligent candidate would want to know how other people perceive the campaign.

When I look at the blogs covering the 24th district, I see a wave of turmoil hitting the Democrats in Oneida County, right in the middle of the campaign.

I see Democratic bloggers suddenly quitting. I see blogs disappearing. I see Democrats writing messages indicating a schism in the county's party, talking about Democrats who are loyal, and those who are not.

I see that, not long after Bob Hyde, fanatic supporter of Michael Arcuri, announces he won't be writing about the Arcuri-Meier contest anymore, the pro-Arcuri blog written under the pseudonym YouGoMike is grinding to a halt. The blog writer suggests that threats of some kind have something to do with it.

Over at, the blog has been deleted.

The National Journal recently increased the ranking of our congressional contest here in New York's 24th District. We were the 16th hottest race in the nation. Now, we're reported to be the 11th hottest.

Democratic bloggers ought to be flocking to write about Michael Arcuri, against Ray Meier. They're not. Those blogs that have been around are stumbling apart, shutting down, or being taken out.

Something about this smells.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Michael Arcuri Campaign Web Site Improves

Let's give credit where credit is due. Over the last couple days, the Arcuri for Congress campaign web site has been adjusted to remove its weakest elements.

The link to the page urging voters to stay tuned, for months on end, for Arcuri for Congress trading cards is gone. It seems that no one every really got tuned in to the idea of collecting cards about Mike Arcuri.

The events calendar that had no events has also been taken down. That's not the perfect solution to the problem - it would have been better to put events up on the calendar - but at least action has been taken.

A link to the online competition the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has set up between congressional candidates, with an opportunity for us all to vote in favor of attention for the Arcuri campaign, has also been added to the web site. Many of us may feel uncomfortable having to beg the DCCC for attention in this way, but that's the way that the DCCC works. Michael Arcuri's campaign chose to muscle out his Democratic competitors with the help of the DCCC, so this kind of scrabble for scraps from the DCCC is what we're stuck with.

Though the Arcuri for Congress campaign web site is still not as strong as it could be, it's still a good sign that these changes have been made. These changes indicate that, perhaps, the Arcuri campaign finally understands that the Internet is an important campaign medium. These changes also suggest that the Arcuri campaign understands that its pattern of communication with voters up until now has been a problem.

Acknowledging the problem won't make it go away, but it does make improvement possible. That's more hope than I've had for the Arcuri campaign in a long while.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Report on Mike Arcuri's Visit to Trumansburg

A couple days ago, I let you all know about Michael Arcuri's coming visit to Trumansburg - it would be about 6 hours ago, now, at the time I was on my way to the Syracuse airport to start this week's business trip. Given that I couldn't be there, I asked if someone who did attend would let me know what the event was like.

About 3 hours ago, the following message arrived in my email box, from a politically active Democrat from Trumansburg:

"I went to the Arcuri talk. After listening to him with an open mind, I'm left feeling a little more pissed off than before. Before, I would read his weak website statement on Iraq, and wonder if someone else wrote it, and hope that he was actually for a timetable. Nope. He said he thought we should redeploy troups to the perimeter of the country - then we could easily send special forces back in for strategic strikes. I said that wasn't good enough, we have to get out, the American people want us out. No answer. Someone asked if he was in favor of Conyers HR635 and if he would investigate wether there were grounds for impeachment. Nope. Someone asked him about economic revitalization of the district - he tried to change the subject to repairing roads - the question was a little over his head.

I don't know why I'm telling you this. I guess because you asked for a report on your blog. I hope he wins. I'll vote for him. I'd vote for a dead fish if thats what the DCCC put on the ballot. I was just hoping for a little inspiration for the phone campaign ya know? A woman from the State Democratic Party spoke a little about the phone campaign. Fortunealtly, the way it works is you call and ask if they support Hillary Clinton and Elliot Spitzer and if they intend to vote. If you get 3 yeses you say thanks, bye and mark em down so we can keep calling them up until the election to make sure they get to the polls. Supposedly this is, the most efficient way to get votes. So I wouldn't have to convince anybody what a great guy Mike Arcuri is."

If anyone else who was at the event has anything to say about it, I'd love to hear more. The same goes for the Democrats over in Caroline. Michael Arcuri was over there too, just a bit before his Trumansburg appearance. I wonder if he got the same kind of questioning there.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Michael Arcuri To Sneak Into Trumansburg

Okay, that's a pretty sneaky title for this blog entry, but let me tell you why I'm using the word "sneak" to describe how Mike Arcuri is coming into my village. I pay attention to this congressional race pretty closely, but until not too long ago, I had no idea that Michael Arcuri had any plans to come to Trumansburg tomorrow.

This morning, I passed by a notice of the event recently stapled up outside a local bar. This afternoon, I got an email about the event. Before that, there was no sign that Arcuri was planning to come.

There was not a word of Arcuri's visit in the Trumansburg Free Press, the widely read local paper. Oh, the community calendar in the paper tells me that there will be a butterfly hike at the Cayuga Nature Center just down the road, and that the Trumansburg Colorguard Boosters club will have a bottle and can drive, along with a Chicken BBQ from 11:00 to 2:00. But word of Arcuri's campaign coming to the village? Nothing about that.

The campaign of Mike Sylvia, the Libertarian candidate for Congress, got an editorial in the Free Press this week. Sylvia also got an entire article devoted just to his campaign. Neither even mentioned that Michael Arcuri even exists. Oh, Michael Arcuri got mentioned in the paper, all right. Someone wrote in to the paper criticizing Arcuri for taking a donation from Skip Anderson. That letter was published. There hasn't been a single pro-Arcuri letter in the paper all year long. Does the Arcuri for Congress campaign have a plan to counter the negative letter? I doubt it. Does the Arcuri campaign even know that an anti-Arcuri letter was published in our paper? I wouldn't be surprised if they were completely ignorant of it.

Well how about the Arcuri for Congress campaign web site? Is there any news there to let people know that Michael Arcuri will be coming to Trumansburg tomorrow? You know very well there isn't. The last time Michael Arcuri's online events calendar had an event on it was in June - and there was just one event for the entire month of June posted there. According to Michael Arcuri's online campaign calendar, the campaign won't be doing a damned thing for the rest of the year.

Yet, here Mike Arcuri is, coming to Trumansburg. How do I reconcile these two incompatible pictures, one of Arcuri doing nothing and another of Arcuri doing something right in front of my eyes?

The only conclusion I can come to is that Michael Arcuri is doing this on purpose: He wants to keep his campaign activities secret. Why else would he keep his campaign web site so obviously bare? Why else would he fail to inform local newspapers that he would be making an official campaign visit to Trumansburg, a visit that's open to the public?

I've seen this strategy before, and whenever I've seen it I've watched it fail. Whenever I see a candidate try the stealth campaigning approach, I think back to the campaign of Mike Bass for Cayuga County District Attorney a few years ago. When I asked Bass what his strategy was, he said that people from the New York State Democratic Committee had advised him to hold back from campaigning until the last minute, and then let loose with a whole bunch of advertisements and appearances in the last three weeks of the campaign season. He'd take his opponent by surprise. His support would surge. The key, he told me, was secrecy in his campaign until he opened it up.

What happenend? Mike Bass never surged. The Republican incumbent, James Vargason, is still in office. The Seabiscuit strategy of purposefully coming from behind did not work.

What is Michael Arcuri afraid of? Is he afraid that people will actually show up to his campaign events, and that he'll have to actually answer questions he hadn't expected? Well, tough. This is not a campaign for dogcatcher we're talking about, here. It's time that Michael Arcuri put on his big boy pants and started letting the public know when and where he's campaigning - before he gets there.

Tomorrow, Michael Arcuri will be meeting with the Democrats in Caroline between 2:00 and 4:00. I don't know exactly where that meeting will be. If you're in Caroline, call a member of your town's Democratic committee and ask. The web site of the Tompkins County Democratic Committee lists Tim Murray as the representative of your town. Call him at 539-7512 - maybe he knows.

Michael Arcuri will be appearing with the Ulysses Democrats here in Trumansburg tomorrow at 6:00 PM in the Fire Hall. Leigh Ann Scheider, who is coordinating the Democratic Neighborhood Project campaign to call voters and build a Democratic Party database, will also be at the gathering.

As luck would have it, I'm scheduled to be out of town on business tomorrow night, so I won't be able to make it to the meeting. If you're there, drop me a line and let me know how it went.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Help Michael Arcuri Gain More DCCC Support

My mini-project of listing ten ways to support the Michael Arcuri for Congress campaign is completed, but heck, more methods for supporting the effort to turn New York's 24th congressional district blue just keep on popping up. Here's one for all you Democratic supporters of Michael Arcuri to do today.

Go to the web site of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and vote for Mike Arcuri in the Candidate for Change Contest.

Michael Arcuri is one of 35 Democratic congressional candidates who are being considered for special extra support by the DCCC. The three candidates who get the most online votes will receive the following bonus items from the DCCC for their campaigns:

  • A fundraising email from Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi or DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel to the entire DCCC email list
  • A phone bank run out of the Democratic National Headquarters for their campaign
  • The feature spot on the DCCC Web site to get their message out, with a link to their campaign contribution page
  • An online chat with the DCCC community to exchange ideas on the campaign and the future of our country.

    Of course, the point of this race isn't really these extra items of support. The point is that the DCCC is trying to encourage Democratic congressional candidates to improve their online campaigning. Those candidates with the best Internet will win the contest - and get extra help that will enable them to surge forward with even more strength into the last few weeks of the campaign.

    This ought to be yet another sign to those stubborn luddites in the Oneida County Democratic Party that, yes, the Internet matters. A note to the Arcuri campaign: Putting a link to this contest on the Arcuri Campaign web site to encourage visitors to vote for Michael Arcuri would be helpful.
  • Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    Arcuri Lead Within Margin of Error

    Thanks to a reader who brought more details of that poll Michael Arcuri commissioned to our attention. Here's the information that reader provided yesterday:
    "More on poll from Roll Call...

    Arcuri Over Meier in Democratic Poll

    August 14, 2006

    Oneida County District Attorney Mike Arcuri (D) led state Sen. Ray Meier (R) in the race for the open 24th district seat, according to a new poll released by Arcuri’s campaign.

    The poll showed Arcuri leading Meier 40 percent to 36 percent and “is significant because Meier is slightly better known and the district has a double-digit edge in Republican registration,” said the memo announcing the survey’s results.

    The poll, conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group July 26-30, included 500 likely general election voters and had a 4.4 percent margin of error. The 24th district opened up when Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R) decided to retire.
    — Stephanie Woodrow"

    As I suspected, Mike Arcuri's supposed 4 percentage point "lead" is within the poll's margin of error. It really can't be considered an actual lead for this reason.

    However, the poll is still good news for the Arcuri campaign. The reason is that, right now, Arcuri should be behind, not dead even with, Ray Meier. It's a district that has long been held by the Republicans, and registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats here.

    The key to Arcuri's success may have been the large number of registered voters in the 24th district who are independents or members of minor political parties - people who are put off by both the Democrat Party and the Republican Party. This year, with the Republican Congress such a clear disaster, and after over 20 years of giving Republican representation a try (and the district going downhill during that time), it's natural for these voters to lean Democrat.

    So, no matter how many big name Republicans Ray Meier's campaign brings into town (or perhaps because of all the big name Republicans Ray Meier's campaign brings into town), most voters are refusing Ray Meier. Keep in mind that those poll numbers are still low for both candidates - 40 percent vs. 36 percent leaves us with 24 percent of voters undecided or just plain unknowledgable about the race.

    Who is better poised to pick up most of those votes? Ray Meier, who stands for the worst aspects of the Republicans' failures? No.

    I've been sharply critical of the Arcuri campaign's strategy of laying low and doing little, but maybe it is a strategy that can work. In a year like this, with the Republicans so visibly and repeatedly messing things up, maybe it's just best to allow the Republicans to fall down all over themselves, and to present an acceptable, if not highly motivating, alternative.

    Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    Get to Dryden for Phone Volunteer Program

    The final item on my list of ten easy and independent things that you can do to help the Arcuri for Congress campaign: Go to Dryden tonight.

    Tonight, at 7:45 PM, the Dryden Democratic Committee will give a presentation on the Neighborhood Network, a project of the Democratic Party to get the word out about congressional campaigns, person to person instead of TV screen to hypnotized eyeball.

    The meeting is at the Dryden Town Hall, 65 East Main Street in Dryden.

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Arcuri Leading in Poll Indeed

    Thanks to Steve over at the Working Families Party for giving us a link to a news article on the Benenson Strategy Group poll showing Michael Arcuri leading by 4 points.

    Ray Meier is right to declare this a statistical dead heat, but in a Republican-leaning district, that's very bad news for him. Besides, Meier can't spin these numbers from the poll: Of those polled, 68% say the country is on the wrong track, compared to 21% who believe we're heading in the right direction.

    What's astonishing is the gap between the negative rating for the Republican agenda, and the near-even rating for Arcuri and Meier. Looks like the Arcuri campaign needs to work to make that link more clearly.

    More on the poll later.

    News of Arcuri's 4 Point Poll Lead Does Not Abound

    Last night, at almost 11:00, an anonymous reader left the following question: "No mention of the poll showing Arcuri with a 4 point lead?"

    Short answer: No.

    Full answer: I'm not mentioning it. The reason? I've haven't really heard much about it.

    Is this news of a poll with Arcuri in the lead in the Utica Observer-Dispatch? No. Is the news in any of the pro-Arcuri blogs? No. Is the news on any blogs at all? No. Is the news on Michael Arcuri's campaign web site? No. Is it anywhere else I look? No.

    The Republican blogger who calls himself "Biggus Dickus" wrote a story related to polling awhile ago, but that posting wasn't really about a poll on the competition between Arcuri and Meier. Rather, he passed along a questionable comment from the Rothenberg Report that Zogby International is "a controversial pollster". I'm rolling my eyes at that one.

    Maybe there is such a poll, and maybe there isn't. I have heard from a couple of sources in the last week that Ray Meier had commissioned a poll and the results would soon be released... if Meier were in the lead. Maybe that's the poll that the anonymous tipster questioned me about last night. Maybe.

    So, I'm happy to pass along to you this question about a supposed poll left by a reader who chose to keep his or her name a secret. Take the news for what it's worth, which is not much.

    First of all, a poll finding four percent lead does not probably show a lead at all. Typically, that four percent would be within the margin of error, or darn near it.

    Secondly, most people, even most likely voters in our district outside of Oneida County (which is most of them) still do not know who Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri are. Given this relative ignorance of the candidates even at this late date, I'll be suspicious of any poll that purports to give a definite answer of who is ahead.

    Third, what grabs my attention much more than any supposed poll showing a slight gap between Mike Arcuri and Ray Meier is the more concrete picture of who is covering this story, and who isn't.

    Who's covering the story about this poll? Well, so far, there's what I'm writing now. Nobody else is saying anything.

    That leaves me with doubts about the veracity of the story - no insult meant to myself. Maybe, in a few hours, the poll results will be officially released, and everyone will be gabbing on about them. That would be great... except not everyone would be gabbing on about them.

    Bob Hyde will not be gabbing on about them. Bob Hyde, who already has a blog, and who is a member of the Oneida County Democratic Committee, has announced that he won't be writing about the campaign by Michael Arcuri for the open seat in Congress anymore. He says that he just doesn't have the time anymore.

    This congressional race is supposed to be one of the biggest this year, and it's a very big year for congressional races - the biggest in 12 years. Bob Hyde happens to be placed at the epicenter of this story, with close contact with some of the Oneida County Democrats who have been at the core of Arcuri's campaign.

    Now, Bob Hyde says he's not going to be bothered writing about Michael Arcuri anymore. Hyde says that he's going to be writing about John Murad, who is running for the 47th state Senate seat, and Dave Gordon, who is running for the for the 115th Assembly seat. That's not exactly hot campaign blog property.

    What gives?

    I have no reason to think that the Arcuri for Congress campaign ship is sinking (as far as I can tell, it's really never left port), but here we see a rat fleeing the ship at the very time it ought to be clambering toward the galley.

    If Michael Arcuri can't keep fanatic supporter Bob Hyde writing about his campaign, how well will Arcuri fare with the rest of the press?

    I'll keep writing about this campaign, that's for sure, because it gets more curious with every passing week.


    This morning, Cortland, 10:00 AM, 10 Main Street in front of the Community Restaurant -
    and their plans to destroy Social Security

    Saturday, August 12, 2006

    Rally for Social Security Monday Morning

    It's gone from blistering hot to just plain nice outside this week, so enjoy the nice weather on Monday and take part in opportunity #9 to act independently to help out Michael Arcuri's campaign: Join the rally to protest Republican John Boehner, Majority Leader of the House of Representatives and Ray Meier.

    John Boehner is coming to Cortland on Monday to help out Ray Meier's campaign for Congress. They'll hold a fundraiser for Meier, and then discuss Ray Meier's "Jobs and the Economy" platform. What platform will that be, pray tell? Why, destroying Social Security, of course!

    No kidding. Republican John Boehner says that his first priority on returning to the House of Representatives next year will be dismantling the Social Security Trust Fund, and handing it over to Wall Street financial firms. Boehner wants to wait until after the elections because he realizes that the manuever isn't one that voters support. But Ray Meier - will he stand up to his new boss if he gets into Congress? Don't bet on it.

    Take a look at Ray Meier's campaign web site. Search for Social Security there. You won't find it, and there's good reason for that. Ray Meier wants to help George W. Bush destroy Social Security, and siphon off the money that Americans have worked hard for into the bank accounts of financial investment firms on Wall Street. Those same firms are big Republican campaign donors. It's a cozy economic platform for everybody involved - except for American workers.

    Citizen Action is organizing a rally in Cortland Monday morning to give us a chance to say no to this radical right wing economic agenda. Be there, and strike a blow against Ray Meier and John Boehner's sneaky plan to cheat you of the Social Security benefits that you have earned.

    The information is below, in the flier from Citizen Action:

    Celebrate Social Security’s – 71st Birthday
    10:00 AM Monday August 14th
    10 Main St. - Cortland
    In Front of the Community Restaurant

    The Big Gun From Congress
    Congressional Majority Leader John Boehner
    Who’s Top Priority is to
    Privatize Social Security
    Will be in Cortland on Monday for a Congressional Fundraiser!

    Let’s Tell him what we think loud and clear

    Boehner Pledges To Privatize Social Security:"We’re Going to Get Serious About This"
    In an interview with the Washington Times published July 31,2006. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) promised to privatize Social Security, saying "If I’m around in a leadership role come January, we’re going to get serious about this."

    For More Information Contact Citizen Action –723-0110

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    Republicans Plan to Let War Criminals Off the Hook

    While the Republicans are busy trying to make a scandal out of legal donations and old local Utica gossip, there is serious stuff going on in Washington D.C. The Republicans want you to forget that the congressional race between Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier is about what goes in Washington D.C., not what goes on in Utica.

    What's happening in D.C.? The Republicans are working on a plan to help war criminals evade prosecution and walk among us as free citizens.

    Yesterday, National Public Radio announced that it has obtained secret documents indicating that the White House has been working on legislation to rip the guts out of the War Crimes Act.

    The Bush Administration plan would reduce the number of war crimes that can be prosecuted under the War Crimes Act, make it impossible for anyone who has had their rights under the Geneva Convention violated to sue in U.S. courts, and... here's the kicker... do so retroactively to 2001.

    I am waiting for you to read that last paragraph a second time, and to put the pieces together.

    Do you understand what George W. Bush is preparing to ask Congress to do? Think back now. Think Watergate. Think Ford pardoning Nixon. Think about how it would have been if that pardon was given even before Nixon resigned. That's what Bush is asking Congress to do.

    George W. Bush is preparing legislation to amend the War Crimes Act to make war crimes against the Geneva Conventions, which are the law of the United States of America as well as International law, retroactively legal. Bush would not do that unless he knew that the War Crimes Act had been violated. If the President of the United States knows that war crimes have been committed under his authority as Commander in Chief, and is keeping them secret from us, and is allowing them to continue, that is impeachable.

    With this heretofore secret legislation, George W. Bush has crafted himself a Get Out of Jail Free Card.

    How is this relevant to the congressional campaign in the 24th District? In order for Bush's scheme to work, he needs to get his legislation passed. Who passes legislation at the federal level? Think hard, now. It's the Congress. What are Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier running for? That's right...

    What is Michael Arcuri's position on this legislation? He ought to be against it. It's a no-brainer, and Arcuri has nothing to lose by bringing it up.

    What is Ray Meier's position on this legislation? That's a bit more tricky. Will Ray Meier, who was recently seen arm in arm with Dick Cheney, be willing to distance himself from the Bush-Cheney White House? Will Ray Meier have the guts to tell the Republican Party no, and take a stand against this plan to let war criminals off the hook? Can Ray Meier afford to look the other way? Can he afford not to?

    This issue gets to the heart of whether we can trust Ray Meier to do the right thing. This is a moral issue. Would Ray Meier vote for this legislation? Would Ray Meier allow war criminals to walk free?

    Now, I'm asking, I'm begging, I am getting down on my knees and pleading with the Oneida County Democrats, the Utica Democratic bloggers, and above all else, the Arcuri for Congress campaign: Will you please stop treating this like a local campaign, and start speaking on the bigger issues that have an interest that reaches beyond New Hartford?

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    Ray Meier Moderate - According to Who?

    Moderate, moderate, moderate. I predict that, by the time that the 2008 presidential campaign is all done with, the word "moderate" will be taken seriously as the word "joementum".

    This word, "moderate", has got to be the most overused and useless phrase of the whole 2006 congressional race. When we hear of a moderate candidate, chances are that that candidate is not moderate at all. "Moderate" has come to be just another careless code word for what truly lies beneath: A right wing agenda.

    Don't take my word for it. Listen to what the Republicans have to say on the matter as it pertains to the race going on in our very own district. Ray Meier likes to be called a "moderate", but then he shoots himself in the foot by aligning himself with a right wing special interest group: Rightroots, a political interest group that calls itself "the right side of the web", and says it wants to enact a right wing agenda - not a moderate agenda at all.

    Ray Meier has proudly posted a graphic on his site declaring that he is "Rightroots Approved". Who knew that a political candidate in our district needed to be approved by a political action committee with its web site registered down in Alexandria, Virginia?

    All this language about Ray Meier being a member of the right wing roots of the Republican Party, and we're supposed to believe that he's moderate? Moderate, my foot.

    rightroots ray meier right wing

    Lamont Memo to Michael Arcuri: The Internet Matters

    The headline from today's Washington Post ought to send a strong message to Michael Arcuri, the Democrat running for Congress in New York's 24th congressional district: "Lamont Relied On Net Roots -- And Grass Roots". The message is confirmed by Time Magazine's article on Joseph Lieberman's defeat: "As much as it was a repudiation of his support for the Iraq War, Joe Lieberman's loss Tuesday in the Senate primary also signaled the ascendancy of a legitimate new power center in the Democratic party, the Netroots."

    There have been many Democrats in the 24th District who claim that the Internet doesn't matter to this campaign. The Arcuri for Congress campaign appears to be listening to their counsel. It has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, on the Democratic side at least. A campaign cannot make use of the power of the Internet by pretending that it does not exist.

    It's a shame, because there are people in this district who would help the Arcuri campaign online, if only the Arcuri campaign would make it possible. Compare the following two reports of message board activity:

    "Our users have posted a total of 2 articles
    We have 19 registered users"

    "Our users have posted a total of 54 articles
    We have 15 registered users" was only really active for a week or two, and yet, its 15 registered users posted 54 articles during that time - more than 25 times the amount of activity on the Arcuri for Congress message board in months and months.

    Why? Well, Michael Arcuri's campaign has been frightened of the web from the beginning, and Arcuri has shown a lawyer's terror that someone could say something unfortunate on the campaign's message boards. So, although the discussion forum is present on the Arcuri for Congress web site, it is, for all intents and purposes, shut down.

    Months ago, we heard that the message board shut down was just temporary, for technical reasons. Then, we were told that some unspecified person was trying to say something nasty about Mike Arcuri, and that the campaign needed to come up with a way to moderate the forum - although the forum software the campaign was using already had that function built in.

    Now, with less than three months to go until Election Day, those same old two messages have been sitting there, undiscussed, and even unread - you have to register to even look at what they renamed the "volunteer forum", and it doesn't appear that the forum is taking new volunteer registrations. It's a problem throughout the web site. About one piece of news is added to the "breaking news" every month. The campaign calendar is completely empty. The weird alert to "Stay tuned" for Michael Arcuri trading cards rests unchanged since there was still snow on the ground.

    Ray Meier doesn't have world's the most savvy campaign web site, but he's not making Arcuri's mistake of letting the web site gather dust. He posts news every few days, giving the impression of an active campaign. Headlines like "Meier Helps New Hartford Seniors" and "From Honor America Days to Lobsterfest, an All American Weekend in Upstate" show that Ray Meier is getting to know the district.

    The Arcuri for Congress web site promises, "When you know Michael Arcuri, you'll want him representing YOU in Congress!" However, because Michael Arcuri's online outreach is practically zilch, most Democrats in the district still have no idea who Arcuri is. This was true even for most of the politically active Democrats who attended my little MoveOn house party the other week. I had to tell these people who their candidate is.

    Ned Lamont's victory over Joseph Lieberman last night should be a wake up call to Michael Arcuri. The Internet matters, and the candidate who ignores that fact risks unanticipated doom.

    Former Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards announced this week that he personally will be travelling to help out two congressional candidates who were able to demonstrate online support. He'll be travelling to Minnesota and Texas, not to New York, because Michael Arcuri couldn't muster enough Internet traffic to participate successfully in Edwards's competition.

    It's not the loss of Edwards's potential visit on its own that hurts. So far, there haven't been any big names coming to appear with Arcuri. Not even Bill and Hillary Clinton have bothered to come from downstate to make a speech for our Democratic candidate. Photographs from a State Democratic Committee convention won't cut it. Ray Meier's had Dick Cheney visit, and now John Boehner, the majority leader of the House of Representatives, will be speaking on his behalf in Cortland.

    The Democratic candidate for Cayuga County Sheriff is getting John Walsh, the host of the TV show America's Most Wanted, to come campaign for him, for goodness sake. Will Arcuri get nobody? Will Rahm Emanuel not deign to send somebody our way?

    We have an open seat in a swing district in the most active congressional campaign year in memory. Our district should not be getting snubbed in this way.

    It is time to get online, get engaged, and get in gear, Mr. Arcuri. No, let me correct that. The time for action is overdue.

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    Working Families Party Ad for Mike Arcuri

    Hats off to the Working Families Party - those folks seem to be working harder to elect Michael Arcuri than the Democrats are. Anyone who ever said that the progressives don't amount to much in this District ought to be eating their hat right now.

    As Carrie Berman from the Working Families Party Take Back Back Congress - New York campaign is wrapping up a series of meetings around the district this week, the Working Families Party is also putting advertisements up on radio stations that slam the Republican Party's crass poison pill attack on minimum wage legislation.

    The text of the message is below. You can also hear an MP3 of the radio ad on the Working Families web site.

    "There they go again... Instead of just raising the minimum wage, the Republicans in Congress are playing more political games. Last week they said they’d raise the minimum wage but here’s the catch: it has to be coupled with a big inheritance tax cut for the very rich. Make that the very, very, very rich. Because only the 8,000 wealthiest families in America qualify.

    While Congressional salaries keep going up and up, it’s been nine years since Washington increased the minimum wage. And the Republicans still refuse to raise it unless heiresses like Paris Hilton get a tax cut.

    That’s just not right.

    This November, vote your values. Vote for Democrat Mike Arcuri on the Working Families Party line. Arcuri supports raising the minimum wage. Health care we can afford. And Social Security we can count on. "

    Support Progressive Issues Organizations

    Method number 8 for you to support the effort to elect Michael Arcuri to Congress without having to muddle around with the Arcuri for Congress campaign: Support progressive issues organizations.

    I'm often irritated with the slow progress and apparent inaction of the Arcuri campaign. The problem with the candidate-based political campaigning is that, unless a candidate is an incumbent, he or she has got to build an organization from the ground up - and everyone knows that the organization is quite likely to be around for only a short while. For that reason, campaigns of candidates for public office tend to be highly inefficient and disorganized when compared to most nonprofit organizations, which are able to build up momentum over a long period of time through sustained action.

    There are less than 100 days to go in this congressional campaign now. So, if you really want to make a lasting contribution to help turn this district Blue, go ahead and put some effort specifically toward the Arcuri campaign, but also support the progressive issues organizations that keep going, year after year, whether there's a political campaign going or not.

    Is the Republican attack on our constitutional rights the thing that motivates you? Then support the New York Civil Liberties Union. Are you a motivated environmentalist? Then support the New York "Atlantic" Chapter of the Sierra Club which does direct work for the environment and sends out information about environmental public policy that affects people here in Central New York. Against the war? Consider working with groups like Peace Action of Central New York, or the Cayuga Coalition for Peace.

    As you can see from the the conditions of their web sites, these organizations are enjoying different levels of success in outreach, but each one is working to make a difference, promoting progressive values in our district. Invest your time or your money in one of these groups, and you'll be preparing the way for successful congressional campaigns in the future. Some groups are planning communication campaigns or voter registration efforts this autumn that will be contributing to the overall effort to take back Congress, though not coordinated with the Arcuri campaign.

    I'm not going to be a pollyanna and suggest that supporting these local groups is going to make a big impact on this year's campaign. The truth is, however, that the foundation of the campaign is already set, and no matter what we do, there's only so much impact that can be made in less than three months. Though time is now short,getting involved in those efforts may yet bear fruit.

    Saturday, August 05, 2006

    Update: Many Take Back Congress Meetings

    This morning, I wrote about the opportunity to start volunteering for Take Back Congress - New York and Citizen Action of New York, referring to an August 8 meeting in Ithaca. Well, it turns out that there are at least two other meetings available for people in our district to attend. One reader sent in a note about a meeting in Utica:

    "August 6th at 4:30 there will be a Progressive Call to Action Meeting to be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church ( an independent endeavor not associated with the church itself -space has been rented there) 10 Higby Rd., Utica."

    The Cayuga Coalition for Peace has also sent out an email about a meeting in Auburn on Thursday, August 10th at 7:00 PM at the Universalist Unitarian Church, 607 N. Seward Avenue.

    There's also a meeting in Cortland, hosted by the Cortland Progressives at the Universalist Unitarian Church, 3 Church Street, on Monday, August 7th at 7:00 PM.

    All this work, I'd like to point out, is being done completely independently of the Michael Arcuri for Congress campaign. It's amazing how people will come together when faced with a candidate as dangerous as right wing Republican Ray Meier.

    Volunteer with Take Back Congress

    Item number 7 in my list of ways that you can volunteer to help Michael Arcuri's campaign without actually volunteering for the campaign itself came in the form of a leaflet handed out at the Just Desserts MoveOn Party I had over at my house early this week. The flyer, entitled A Progressive Call to Action, gave information about an event this coming Tuesday evening at which people will be presented with opportunities for concrete action.

    Carrie Berman and Mary Clark will speak at 7:00 PM, at 318 North Albany in Ithaca about their efforts to help the Democrats regain majority control of Congress this year. Mary Clark coordinates Citizen Action of New York for the Southern Tier, and so won't be primarily focused on the 24th District - but she can get people in contact with those in her organization who will be. Carrie Berman is working with Take Back Congress - New York, which coincidentally has the very same name as the group blog that I founded back in January.

    Take Back Congress - New York is an independent campaign that is working to help Democratic and Working Families congressional candidates in four districts this year, one of which is our district, the 24th. Their strategy is to strengthen Mike Arcuri's appeal to independent voters by communicating a message that focuses on jobs, healthcare and education. Take Back Congress could use your suppport, so if you can, attend Tuesday's meeting. If you can't attend Tuesday's meeting, then send an email to

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    DCCC Tries It Top Down in New York's 24th District

    Thanks to the reader Curious, who tipped me off to an interesting article in The Hill, indicating that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved $797,000 worth of advertising in New York State's 24th Congressional District alone.

    It's a blunt approach, top down, but this investment is so big I can't dismiss it as unimportant, and neither should the 24th District Republicans. Those who are trying to depict a little static about campaign donations from a small group of troubled individuals as a major issue ought to look at the DCCC's investment as a sign that those with political experience recognize this supposed "Skippygate" as nothing more than a piece of summer fluff. The national Democratic Party leadership sees this contest as one they can win.

    I'm not fond of political advertising, or advertising in general, as a way to get a message out. However, when someone throws this much money at an advertising campaign, it just might work. Certainly, one could never underestimate the number of Americans who will stare blankly at a television screen instead of reading the paper and doing their own research into a political campaign. I won't be among those listening or watching the advertisements broadcast in favor of Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier, but I won't be so blind as to think that most voters will similarly abstain.

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    Get John Edwards to Stump for Mike Arcuri

    Item number 6 in my list of 10 ways in which you can volunteer for Michael Arcuri's sake without having to wait around for the Arcuri campaign to "coordinating" you involves a voice from the past. Think back now... "There are two Americas"... "I'm going to work for YOU"...

    Yes, I'm talking about former senator, former Vice Presidential candidate, John Edwards.

    One of the things that John Edwards is doing, besides doing some serious anti-poverty work (good for you, John), is running the One America Committee, an organization dedicated to getting Democrats elected across America. It's the sort of thing that someone does if they're planning on running for President soon. Watch for candidate Edwards in 2004.

    What does all this have to do with Michael Arcuri? Well, Michael Arcuri is a Democrat running for office, and John Edwards is considering coming right here to District 24 in New York State to stump for the Arcuri for Congress campaign. But, Edwards needs a little persuading.

    You have just 2 days left to go to the One America Committee web site and vote for Edwards to pay attention to Michael Arcuri. It works like this: There are a bunch of Democratic candidates on the list, and the top two vote getters in this online election will get a visit from John Edwards during this campaign.

    Seeing Michael Arcuri and John Edwards up on the stage together sure would be a great image in opposition to seeing Ray Meier and Dick Cheney holding hands, wouldn't it?

    Give Arcuri a boost in Edwards's poll. It's quick and easy, and just might make a difference.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    MoveOn Just Desserts Events Gather Volunteers

    All across America last night, progressive Americans met, ate yummy desserts together, and watched a high speed Internet broadcast including talks by Al Franken and Barack Obama and a map of all the other groups across America, participating in similar events.

    I hosted one of these events at my house in Trumansburg, and with just two days' notice, 15 attended. With their kids in tow, that made over 20 people in the house, and the air got hot pretty quickly. Still, people stuck it out, and engaged in some serious political discussions well after the broadcast was through.

    Out of the 15 adults in attendance, 6 signed up to become telephone volunteers for MoveOn, checking a box next to the statement, "I want to call voters in key races and turn them out to vote. I'll spend an hour a week calling and increase closer to Election Day."

    MoveOn reports that there were 689 of these events across America last night. I'll bet that the attendance at my house was about average. If that's so, it means that 4,134 new volunteers were recruited through these events last night. If just half of these people follow through with their pledge, and talk to just three people in that weekly hour of calling, then that means that they'll reach six thousand people every week. That will be 78,000 phone calls coming out of these little neighborhood meetings - and a conservative estimate at that.

    MoveOn, of course, organizes through the Internet. Does someone want to repeat the claim that the Internet doesn't matter to congressional campaigns? Could Michael Arcuri afford to discount these efforts?