Saturday, September 30, 2006

Michael Arcuri Would Ruin a Democratic Majority

I'm a Democrat. So, I understand why people write here saying that, even though Michael Arcuri is scum, we should vote Arcuri. They're saying that, above all else, we should help the Democrats get a majority in Congress.

I understand why people make that argument, but that argument relies upon an unstated premise. That unstated premise is this: That a Democratic majority in Congress would have voted against HR 6166, the pro-torture, anti-freedom bill that Michael Arcuri supports.

That unstated premise is false.

Do the math: Even if the Democrats had 25 more seats in the House of Representatives to gain a clear majority, HR 6166 would have passed. 34 Democrats crossed party lines to vote for HR 6166.

The reality that these Arcuri-loyalists don't want to admit is that the Democratic majority will not be able to change very much, if enough of those Democrats keep on supporting the Republican agenda, as Arcuri would do.

Mike Arcuri told us that if he gets into Congress, he will vote with the Republicans. If he gets in Congress Mike Arcuri will help George W. Bush. That's what Mike Arcuri told us this week.

Michael Arcuri is a Lieberman Democrat. He is part of the problem.

Friday, September 29, 2006

This Democrat Stands Against Michael Arcuri

Michael Arcuri has been a terrible candidate from the start, but what he did last night is unforgiveable.

Michael Arcuri has announced that he supports George W. Bush on torture. Mike Arcuri has announced that he supports George W. Bush on revoking the right to habeas corpus. The Arcuri for Congress campaign confirmed to me on the telephone today that Michael Arcuri would gladly help President Bush dismantle the Bill of Rights.

Michael Arcuri said last night at a debate that he would have voted for HR 6166, a law passed by Congress this week that effectively rips the guts out of our democracy.

What does that mean, practically speaking?

1. I cannot support the candidacy of Michael Arcuri any longer.
2. Michael Arcuri will not get my vote.
3. I feel duty bound as an American citizen to oppose the campaign of Michael Arcuri for Congress.

Let me be clear: I do not support the campaign of Ray Meier. Ray Meier also supports this terrible law.

I will be doing as much as I can between today and Election Day to convince Democrats in the 24th Congressional District to do one of two things:

A. Abstain from casting a vote for any candidate in this race.
B. Cast a protest vote in favor of the third party candidate.

The third party candidate does not support the new law. I just spoke to Mike Sylvia, the Libertarian candidate for Congress in our district, and he said that he is against the torture bill, without equivocation. "I am horrified by the abuses of the Bill of Rights contained in this new law," he said to me. That's a word-for-word quote.

The Republican blogger who calls himself "Biggus Dickus" doesn't think that we Democrats are going to lift a finger in protest against this. He doesn't think that we'll oppose Michael Arcuri on this matter. He writes, "the truth is the far-left voters are going to be pulling the lever for Arcuri anyway. It's just amusing to watch them get all indignant before the inevitable happens."

Dick, you couldn't be more wrong.

Unlike the Republicans, we Democrats have more principles than partisanship. Michael Arcuri doesn't deserve our support, and he won't get it.

I don't want a Republican majority in Congress, but this is more important than party loyalty. This is about doing the right thing. Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri both stand for the wrong thing. So, the only right thing to do is to stand against them both.

Michael Arcuri Supports the Bush Torture Law!

Last night, Mike Arcuri threw the election to Ray Meier.

I called the Michael Arcuri for Congress campaign just a few minutes ago, and they confirmed that, at the debate last night, Arcuri announced that if he were in Congress, he would have voted in favor of HR 6166.

Yesterday, that same legislation, under the bill number S 3930, was approved by the United States Senate.

More on this to come.

Much more.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sherwood Boehlert Betrayed Our Trust with 6166

Sherwood Boehlert betrayed the citizens of New York's 24th Congressional District yesterday. He voted for the HR 6166, the bill that revokes a large number of our freedoms.

Maybe you don't know what HR 6166 does. After all, the name HR 6166 seems pretty harmless - just a bunch of boring paperwork, right?


Here's what the legislation will do if the Senate passes its version, S 3930, today:

If it becomes law, this legislation will:

1. It will revoke habeas corpus
2. It will create a secret committee appointed by Bush and Rumsfeld that has the power to declare any person - even a US citizen - to be an enemy, instantly depriving them of their legal rights. There will be no appeal allowed.
3. It will allow police to search your home without a search warrant
4. It will revoke protection of prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions
5. It will give George W. Bush amnesty for any war crimes he has committed
6. It will allow for people to be put on trial in front of a kangaroo court military tribunal, even if they aren’t in any military, and have not engaged in military attacks against the USA
7. It will allow the government to convict people of crimes on the basis of secret evidence that the accused never sees
8. It will make it legal for the government to use testimony extracted through torture
9. It will end the legal right to be protected from forced self-incrimination
10. It will allow the government to imprison people without telling them what crimes they are being charged with
11. It will remove the right to cross-examine witnesses
12. It will allow for the records of trials to be kept secret from the American public
13. It will enable trials to begin even before a thorough investigation of the alleged crime has taken place
14. It will take away the right to a speedy trial

If you say that the law won't do these things, it tells me you haven't even read the law. Many members of Congress haven't read the law. Did Sherwood Boehlert bother to read it before he voted yes?

This is a betrayal of the most basic American values. Sherwood Boehlert has lost forever the ability to be fairly called a moderate. This is not a moderate law. This is extremism of the worst kind.

This isn't the kind of issue that wins or loses elections. This is about what's right and what's wrong.

I don't care if you're a Republican, Democrat, or independent voter. We all ought to be able to see that legislation is a serious threat to the American way of life. Our freedom is on the line.

Please, call Senator Schumer this morning. Call Hillary Clinton. Ask them to vote AGAINST S 3930.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Is Unreasonable Search And Seizure Okay Or Not?

News about the John McCain torture bill gets worse. I already knew that the legislation would strip habeas corpus rights, allow testimony obtained through torture, and deprive us of the right to a fair trial. Now, I'm reading through it again, and seeing that the newest version of this legislation allows for prosecutors to obtain evidence from people's homes without a search warrant.

No, I'm not kidding. Yes, it's wild. It's outrageous. It's so out of hand that I needed to check my own reading on the matter to make sure I wasn't just seeing things. I'm not. Read this article yourself. Catch the part where it informs us that "prosecutors could ignore American legal standards on search warrants" under this new legislation? Catch the part where it says that, over the weekend, the Republicans in the White House and Congress purposefully removed the provision that would have protected these warrantless searches of people's homes within the United States?

Catch the part where it says that the Democrats aren't sure yet whether they're going to oppose this?

Am I living in some kind of crazy nightmare? If our politicians won't stand up against this insane legislation, if they won't stand up for our basic Constitutional rights to a fair trial, to freedom from self-incrimination, to the right to due process, and to the right of protection from unreasonable search and seizure, then what the bloody hell will they stand up for? This legislation rips away half of the protections of the Bill of Rights, for goodness sakes!

Don't believe the excuse that only the Constitutional rights of foreigners will be taken away. The President of the United States will get the power, through his own secret committee, to declare ANYONE an enemy combatant, seized here in the United States or not, and then all the Constitutional rights of that person get taken away instantly - because there is no more habeas corpus right for the prisoner. If you aren't recognized by the legal system as even existing, you have no access to lawyers, no contact with the outside world, and no opportunity to do anything about it. They get to do anything to you that they want - and you never ever get the right of appeal, or even the right to a trial.

These freedoms that the Republicans are trying to take away are the freedoms that we Americans won way back in the Revolution of 1776. Senator Patrick Leahy is right. This legislation is downright unAmerican... if you believe that an essential part of being an American is having freedom. If all that you believe is that being an American is about waving the flag, don't worry. They're not taking away your right to wave the flag.

Where are the Republicans on this issue? Why aren't they jumping up and down and screaming about how this expands the power of big government? Are the Republicans for big government now?

How about you, Biggus Dickus, the only other blogger who is covering this race between Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier any more? Why aren't you writing about this? How come all you can write about is how sad you are that you couldn't see Laura Bush? Are you not paying attention?

I'm grateful that Michael Arcuri spoke out against this terrible legislation last week, though he did so in meek, uncertain language - and in the Rome Sentinel, which is neither widely read on paper nor easily available online.

The last we heard from Ray Meier, he supported the fake "compromise" that's the foundation of the terrible legislation now being proposed. Since then, Ray Meier has been busy in an ideological embrace with George W. Bush's wife, who supports the attempt to take our freedoms away through this new law.

If Ray Meier stands against this totalitarian legislation, then he needs to say so - loud and clear. We need to hear from both Mike Arcuri and Ray Meier in a way that this grave issue merits - in clear, official statements released to all area newspapers, and published online where everyone can see them.

This issue ought to be above partisan politics, something that Republican and Democratic voters alike can agree upon. No mealy-mouthed half answers and evasions. You now either stand up for freedom or you sit down and watch American freedom being torn apart. Which is it? Are for freedom, or are you against it?

Ray Meier Supporters Love Rick Santorum

Reason #12 to Not Vote for Ray Meier: Ray Meier Supporters Love Rick Santorum

Ray Meier tries to portray himself as moderate, but the nature of his supporters belies the radical nature of his campaign.

Consider this: Ray Meier's supporters are avid fans of Rick Santorum. Consider what our local far right wing blog, Sounding the Trumpet, has to say about Ray Meier and Rick Santorum:

On Ray Meier: "Boehlart was probably one of the most liberal Republicans in Congress. He voted several times against the ban on partial birth abortion, and got a %100 rating from NARAL for 2005 and 2006. Club for Growth tried unsuccessfully to oust him during a primary by supporting his opponent David Walrath the last two elections. However, now we finally have a candidate that conservatives can be proud of — Ray Meier. He’s prolife, been endorsed by the Republican Study Committee and New York’s Conservative Party."

On Rick Santorum: "Rick Santorum has been one of the strongest voices for family, traditional values and the war on terrorism in the Senate. As one of the top three leaders of the Senate, he has not only articulated conservative values but also been able to effectively advance the conservative cause."

There you have it from a Republican voice itself: Ray Meier is no Sherwood Boehlert. On the contrary, the right wing activists are excited because Ray Meier promises to be more like Rick Santorum. Rick Santorum is the extremist Senator from Pennsylvania who has proposed sending gays and lesbians to prison - just for being gay. Santorum takes anti-government hatred to such an extreme that he's proposed a bill that would forbid the National Weather Service from offering free weather forecasts to Americans - because he thinks that doing so would be too socialist.

The same right wing blogger who praises Rick Santorum and Ray Meier is also an enthusiastic proponent of Intelligent Design, a new form of Creationism that denies the reality of biological evolution through natural selection. It seems that if you support making science education into a prop for religious instruction, Ray Meier is the candidate for you.

That extremists of this sort are itching for Ray Meier to be elected to the United States House of Representatives ought to give us pause. We don't need another Rick Santorum on Capitol Hill, and that's reason #12 to NOT vote for Ray Meier.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Vote Online To Help Mike Arcuri Get MoveOn Attention

I'm breaking my pledge to not write about Mike Arcuri tonight, because there's a chance to offer easy online assistance to the Michael Arcuri for Congress campaign... and the Arcuri campaign, true to form, isn't helping anyone find it.

MoveOn is holding an online ballot on whether to endorse Ray Meier or Michael Arcuri in the 24th District campaign.

This should be a no-brainer for MoveOn, a progressive organization, but well... those of you who have been paying attention to this campaign will understand what MoveOn is doing. They're looking for proof that Michael Arcuri has some degree of online support.

If Michael Arcuri fails to get at least 2/3 of the online votes, he doesn't get their endorsement. With that endorsement comes a lot of "attention" to our district - meaning support in the effort to prevent Ray Meier from getting elected, though of course not coordinated with the Arcuri campaign itself.

The Arcuri for Congress campaign web site won't give a link to this important opportunity to promote its own standing. So, you'll have to follow the link from here.

Please, go over to the MoveOn site and pick up Michael Arcuri by his own bootstraps - give him a vote.

Don't Believe The Hype On McCain - Bush Torture Law

Republican congressional candidate Ray Meier has come out in favor of the Bush / McCain torture legislation. What does that mean? Oh, good question.

The Republicans want you to believe that this legislation is a "compromise" that's reasonable and in accordance with the Constitution of the United States. They want you to believe that, but frankly, it's a load of bull. It's a shell game. It's a scam.

Pay attention to what the law proposed by John McCain and George W. Bush actually would do, and you'll be terrified.

1. The law would remove the right of habeas corpus. That means that, whatever laws are in place protecting the other legal rights of people imprisoned by the federal government, they have no practical effect. After all, if a prisoner does not have the right to be legally acknowledged by the judicial system of the United States, then that prisoner has no legal access to any legal protections at all. This measure endorses the international system of CIA prisons established by George W. Bush.

2. The new version of the legislation actually provides fewer legal protections for people than the earlier version proposed by Bush did. Don't believe me? Believe the Washington Post, which runs the story on its front page this morning: Detainee Legislation to Have Fewer Restrictions.

3. The legislation takes away the right to a speedy trial.

4. The legislation removes the freedom to choose not to incriminate oneself. That freedom is guaranteed to all people, citizen and non-citizen alike, in the 5th Amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights.

5. The legislation would deprive people of the right to know what why they are being imprisoned, including what criminal charges are being made against them. Section 810, article 10 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice states that "When any person subject to this chapter is placed in arrest or confinement prior to trial, immediate steps shall be taken to inform him of the specific wrong of which he is accused and to try him or to dismiss the charges and release him." The McCain - Bush legislation would nullify Section 810, article 10 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

6. The McCain / Bush legislation would permit the use of testimony that was forced from prisoners through the use of torture. That's currently prohibited, even in military trials, by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Section 831 d, which reads, "No statement obtained from any person in violation of this article, or through the use of coercion, unlawful influence, or unlawful inducement may be received in evidence against him in a trial by court-martial." The new law removes this protection. Torture away!

7. Under the new law, prisoners could be put on trial on criminal charges even before an investigation into the charges took place! Section 832 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice makes this guarantee: "No charge or specification may be referred to a general court-martial for trial until a through and impartial investigation of all the matters set forth therein has been made." What kind of criminal trial could you have before an investigation into the charges has been made? the trial of a kangaroo court, that's what. A kangaroo court is just what John McCain, George W. Bush and Ray Meier have proposed.

8. Under the new law, prisoners will not have the right to cross-examine witnesses against them. In the new system, someone can testify against you and you'll never have the opportunity to question or refute what the witness claims.

9. Have you heard that the new "compromise" legislation guarantees protection under the Geneva Conventions? John McCain says it does. John McCain is lying. Here's verbatim text from the new law: "Geneva Conventions Not Establishing Source of Rights- No alien unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by military commission under this chapter may invoke the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights."

Think you're safe from this new law? People who were found to have nothing to do with terrorism were seized in the United States and thrown into those secret CIA prisons, where they were tortured while being interrogated. Why couldn't it happen to you? If you're thrown into one of those CIA prisons, under the law pushed by George W. Bush, John McCain and Ray Meier, you wouldn't even have the right to be recognized by a court of law. They could keep you there for the rest of your life, and torture, you, and no one would ever know what happened to you.

Yes, you.

The law allows a special government committee, with members appointed by George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, to declare you an enemy combatant - and neither you nor your family will have the right to appeal this decision.

Don't just believe what the Republicans and the people on the TV tell you about this law. Read it yourself.

Ray Meier thinks that's okay. Are you willing to go along with it?

A Vote for Ray Meier is a Vote for Bush

Reason #11 to Not Vote for Ray Meier: A Vote For Meier is a Vote For Bush

I've said it before, but not as part of this list of 30 reasons to not vote for Ray Meier, so I'll say it again: A vote for Ray Meier is a vote for Bush.

Everyone knows what's going on with the visit of Laura Bush to hold an elitist soiree fundraiser with Ray Meier, with tickets going at $1,000 and $2,000 a pop. The numbers show clearly that a huge majority of likely voters in our district think that George W. Bush is a terrible President and has taken America in the wrong direction. Yet, Meier's base still adores Bush.

Ray Meier can't have President Bush himself here, or he'll lose the independent and moderate Republican swing vote that is essential to his campaign. He can, however, have Bush's wife come into town. It's not polite to criticize the President's wife (though Republicans did it throughout the 1990s). Heck, even I won't carp on Laura Bush here.

However, I will point out what the visit makes clear: Ray Meier is George W. Bush's man. That's the message Meier is sending to his political base with the visits of Laura Bush and Dick Cheney: Don't worry, I'm one of Bush's Republicans.

Vote for Ray Meier, and you vote for a man who will vote to support Bush's agenda of failure in Congress.

Vote for Ray Meier, and you might as well be voting for Bush. We've seen that mistake made two times too many already. We must not repeat it this year. That's reason #11 out of 30 to NOT vote for Ray Meier for Congress.

Ray Meier Is Part of A Disintegrating Ideology

Reason #10 to Not Vote for Ray Meier: Ray Meier is Part of a Disintegrating Ideology

The events of the last few days in Washington D.C. have been remarkable, but they are not the most remarkable we shall see. The government of George W. Bush is on the verge of falling apart as the result of its own radical ideology.

The Bush Republican ideology says that the law doesn't matter, that the Constitution doesn't matter, that the Bill of Rights can be chucked right on out the window whenever the President of the United States deems it necessary. This ideology makes the President into a dictator who is above the law.

Ray Meier is a part of this ideology. He supports Bush, and he has refused to distance himself from Bush's pro-torture, anti-freedom legislation.

George W. Bush and John McCain have performed a very clever shell game to come to their "compromise", but the plain fact is that their proposed legislation still changes the law to make torture legal (just so long as it doesn't kill the prisoner or cause major permanent harm to the body) and still provides amnesty for war criminals.

The Bush-McCain torture legislation also takes away our right to habeas corpus protections - the foundation of all our other freedoms. That outrage was pointed out by the Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. Senator Arlen Specter called this attempt to rip the bottom out of American democracy "inexplicable", and pointed out that it is in clear violation of the Constitution, which only allows habeas corpus to be temporarily suspended in the case of a rebellion against the government or an invasion by a foreign power.

As Senator Specter pointed out, there is no invasion and there is no rebellion. Yet, George W. Bush is asking Congress for a permanent revocation of habeas corpus rights.

It's not just me, some blogger off in an Upstate New York village, who's saying that this legislation is a threat to our democracy. United States Senators, Republican and Democrat, are coming together to denounce the McCain-Bush proposal on the grounds that I cite here. Senator Patrick Leahy made the following statement yesterday, for example:
"This provision would perpetuate the indefinite detention of hundreds of individuals against whom the Government has brought no charges and presented no evidence, without any recourse to justice whatsoever. That is un-American, and it is contrary to American interests.

Going forward, the bill departs even more radically from our most fundamental values. It would permit the President to detain indefinitely – even for life – any alien, whether in the United States or abroad, whether a foreign resident or a lawful permanent resident, without any meaningful opportunity for the alien to challenge his detention. The Administration would not even need to assert, much less prove, that the alien was an enemy combatant; it would suffice that the alien was “awaiting [a] determination” on that issue. In other words, the bill would tell the millions of legal immigrants living in America, participating in American families, working for American businesses, and paying American taxes, that our Government may at any minute pick them up and detain them indefinitely without charge, and without any access to the courts or even to military tribunals, unless and until the Government determines that they are not enemy combatants.

Detained indefinitely, and unaccountably, until proven innocent. Like Canadian citizen Maher Arar. As the Canadian Government recently concluded in a detailed and candid report, there is no evidence that Mr. Arar ever committed a crime or posed a threat to U.S. or Canadian security. Yet, while returning home to Canada from a family vacation, he was detained, interrogated, and then shipped off to a torture cell in Syria by the Bush-Cheney Administration While the Canadian Government has now documented that the wrong thing was done to the wrong man, the Bush-Cheney Administration has, as usual, evaded all accountability by hiding behind a purported state secrets privilege."

The so-called "compromise" of George W. Bush and John McCain is falling apart because it isn't a compromise at all. It's the same old pig, dressed up in a hat and lipstick.

Republicans and Democrats are coming together to say no to Bush's anti-freedom ideology. Bush's ideology is on the verge of disintegration. Yet, Ray Meier still holds on to that ideology, standing with Bush no matter how crazy Bush gets.

Ray Meier doesn't have enough sense to step away from a destructive ideology, even while it's crumbling before his very eyes: That's reason #10 out of 30 to NOT vote for Ray Meier for Congress

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ray Meier Approach Makes Terrorism Worse

Reason #9 Not to Vote for Ray Meier: Ray Meier's Plan Makes Terrorism Worse

The Ray Meier plan for the Iraq War is easy to understand: Let President Bush do whatever he wants.

The problem with that plan? It makes terrorism worse.

That's not some claim made just by antiwar progressives. That's the claim made by the 16 government intelligence agencies who put together the National Intelligence Estimate. The National Intelligence Estimate is a report on the threats to the USA that the nation's top intelligence experts regularly send to the President of the United States.

Sometimes George W. Bush reads it, and sometimes he doesn't bother. It's classified, so we citizens can't read it for ourselves, but we ought to pay attention to what information about it comes our way.

Why? Well, this weekend, we learned that a National Intelligence Estimate sent to President Bush this year informed the President that the Iraq War was making terrorists stronger and thus, increasing the danger of terrorist attacks against the United States.

Has Ray Meier made any comment about this? Of course not. He's pretending the problem doesn't exist.

That's reason #9 out of 30 not to vote for Ray Meier for Congress.

Ray Meier Is Poison For the Environment

Reason #8 To Not Vote For Ray Meier: Ray Meier Is Poisonous For The Environment

In its coverage of the 2005 political year, the Environmental Advocates of New York profiled Sherwood Boehlert's work for the environment in a special section on their web site entitled "Green Courage: Representative Sherwood Boehlert".

Ray Meier has earned no such praise. There's a reason for that. Last year, Ray Meier was the lone vote against legislation that required that public schools use cleaning chemicals that don't poison the environment. Not mixing kids with poisons is a no-brainer for most of us, but on this issue, Ray Meier just didn't get it.

Ray Meier has cast many other anti-environmental votes in recent years. Meier supported legislation to help build a huge garbage incinerator practically in the back yards of New York State residents. Meier supported a bill that limits the power of local communities to oppose out-of-control land grabs. When Ray Meier had the chance to support a bill that would have ended the use of a poisonous substance in our clothing and bedding, Ray Meier voted against it.

In a gimme to the railroad industry, Ray Meier opposed a bill that would have banned the incineration of creosote in our neighborhoods, and would have put rules in place to protect kids from improper creosote disposal. Creosote contains nasty chemicals such as alkylnaphthalenes, naphthalene, diphenyl, acenaphthalene, fluorene, diphenylene oxide, quinoline base and indole. You don't want your kids breathing that stuff after it's been burned near where they play? Exposure to creosote is known to cause cancer. Ray Meier didn't care about that.

Ray Meier is no Sherwood Boehlert. Ray Meier's environmental record is full of filth. That's reason #8 to NOT vote for Ray Meier for Congress.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

We Cannot Trust Ray Meier With Future Wars

Ray Meier Cannot Be Trusted With Future Wars: Reason #7 to Not Vote for Ray Meier

The disaster that was the decision to invade and occupy Iraq is not just a mistake of the past. It was also a demonstration of what particular politicians will do in similar situations.

There never was any evidence that Iraq was a serious threat to any other nation, much less to the United States. Yet, most politicians in Congress didn't pay any attention to that huge gap. They voted to give George W. Bush the power to invade Iraq. They did it in spite of the fact that huge numbers of Americans begged them to look at the facts. In one day alone, one million Americans marched, peacefully and lawfully, in the streets to ask Congress not to help Bush start the Iraq War.

The politicians who supported the idea of starting a war in Iraq didn't listen to the 50 percent of Americans who said that invading Iraq would be a mistake.

Now, those politicians like to pretend that they were either tricked into giving that support, or were working with the best information available. That's a load of bull. All the signs were there pointing to a series of grave problems that would result from an invasion of Iraq. Those politicians who supported the war just chose to ignore the warning signs, and to do what was politically convenient instead.

Ray Meier was one of those politicians. Oh, he wasn't in Congress at the time, but he gave his support to the push to go to war as a politician loyal to George W. Bush. Ray Meier made a big mistake, and he still won't admit it.

His record on Iraq shows that we cannot trust Ray Meier to make decisions about war and peace. Yet, that's the duty he would have if he were sent to Congress. The Constitution makes it clear: It is the role of Congress to declare war.

Ray Meier is not up to the job. Ray Meier has shown that he supports using war as a political tool. Ray Meier's mistake with Iraq proves that he does not have the sufficient moral and ethical judgment to serve in the United States House of Representatives. That's reason #7 out of 30 to not vote for Ray Meier for Congress.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ray Meier is an Inconvenient Corporate Stooge

Reason #6 to Not Vote for Ray Meier: Ray Meier is a foot soldier for dirty old big oil

Democrats like Al Gore have been sounding the alarm about global warming for years, but it's only now that Republicans like Ray Meier have grudgingly accepted what we Democrats have been saying all along. Ray Meier has always played it politically safe on this issue, never stepping out further than what national Republicans say the truth is. Now, Ray Meier is copying George W. Bush's energy talk - and we all know how little that talk has done for America in the last six years.

I can't find anywhere where Ray Meier even acknowledges that global warming exists, although science has thoroughly proven that it does. Look on Ray Meier's campaign web site, and you won't find the term global warming or climate change. It's as if Meier just doesn't think there's a problem. Certainly, Ray Meier's talk on agricultural issues fails to address the issue, even though farmers know that it's already affecting their livelihood.

Practically speaking, Ray Meier is stil hanging on to the shreds of the fossil fuel industry's old talking points - which even the fossil fuel industry is going to have to abandon soon. Ray Meier supports Big Oil in its push to suck every last drop of oil out of the ground as fast as it can - including up on the ecologically sensitive North Shore of Alaska. Ray Meier also supports the corporate talk of "clean coal technology", although any truly clean coal technology is as elusive as the technology to make ethanol a sustainable solution.

Ray Meier won't support the Apollo Alliance Energy Initiative. He won't support Al Gore's plan to fight global warming either.

It's no wonder that Ray Meier is still pushing the ideas of the oil industry - the oil industry has eagerly made contributions to Ray Meier's campaigns, seeing the opportunity to get a congressman who's more open to low standards for protecting America from pollution than Sherwood Boehlert has been.

Accepting that money is a slick move on Ray Meier's part, but it's the wrong thing to do. We need a real representative, not just a corporate stooge. That's reason #6 out of 30 to NOT vote for Ray Meier.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ray Meier Ignores Reality In Iraq

Reason #5 to Not Vote for Ray Meir for Congress: Ray Meier Ignores the Reality of the War in Iraq

Ray Meier says of the Iraq War, " I am still most influenced by the views and actions of our troops... I am impressed by their strong belief in the mission and their conviction that our military and diplomatic forces on the ground can help the Iraqis establish a stable and free Iraq."

Ray Meier has had that statement up for months. The problem with it is that it doesn't at all reflect what America's soldiers in Iraq are actually saying.

  • A poll this year revealed that "72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and more than one in four say the troops should leave immediately".
  • A large number of American generals who have been in Iraq are reporting that the situation there is deteriorating, not getting better.
  • A assessment by the Marines that was kept secret from the American people until uncovered this month stated of Iraq's Anbar province, "there is almost nothing the US military can do to improve the political and social situation there".

    Ray Meier's happy talk on Iraq is not in accordance with what the military's leaders are saying about Iraq, and contradicts what soldiers themselves believe. We need a congressman who is in touch with reality, not someone who keeps on repeating a partisan distortion of the truth. Ray Meier won't speak the truth about Iraq, and that's reason #5 out of 30 not to vote for Ray Meier for Congress this year.
  • Sunday, September 17, 2006

    Ray Meier Will Not Cut the Size of Government

    Reason #4 Not to Vote for Ray Meier: Ray Meier Will Not Cut the Size of Government

    Republicans love to make campaign promises about how they're going to cut the size of government. But this year, the promises aren't being made so much as they're being merely suggested.

    Take, for example, the following passage from Ray Meier's announcement speech:

    "Everyday hard working New Yorkers have to watch their expenses and spend the money they earn carefully. They expect government at all levels to do the same. They know that a federal budget grown to $2.77 trillion and counting and growing deficits are a drain on themselves and a huge mortgage on their children’s future. As a state senator, I’ve focused on reforming entitlements like welfare and Medicaid, and shown that policies that provide for greater accountability for government bureaucracies and responsibility and independence for individuals can yield savings without hurting people. In Washington, I will always remember that every single dollar spent by government had to first be earned by a hard working taxpayer."

    Wow! The federal budget has grown to $2.77 trillion dollars and counting? Federal budget defecits are a drain? Well, golly, it's a good thing that Ray Meier recognizes that, but is Ray Meier the kind of guy we can count on to help solve the problem in Congress?

    Don't bet on it. Ray Meier will make the problem worse.

    The reason is simple. The record size of the federal government was created by Republicans in Congress. The immense budget deficits that are draining our economy dry and creating a mortgage on our children's future were created by Republicans in Congress.

    Do you notice how, in that passage from Ray Meier's speech, he doesn't promise to work to shrink the size of the federal government, and doesn't promise to reduce government spending? There's a reason for that. Ray Meier knows he can't make those kinds of promises - or, at least, he can't make those promises and keep them.

    The Republican Congress and the Republican President have expanded the federal government to such an extent that they've broken all previous records. So, if you believe in small government, why would you vote to send another big government Republican to Congress?

    The Republican Congress and the Republican President took budget surpluses and turned them into record-breaking budget deficits. So, if you're against big government spending, why would you vote to send another borrow-and-spend Republican to Congress?

    Send Ray Meier to Congress, and he'll be part of the problem. He'll help to make the government bigger, and put our kids in debt with big budget deficits.

    Ray Meier will not help to cut the size of the federal government. Period. That's reason #4 out of 30 to not vote for Ray Meier for Congress.

    Even Republicans Cannot Praise Ray Meier

    Reason #3 to Not Vote for Ray Meier: Even Ray Meier's Republican Supporters Cannot Praise Him

    If a candidate's supporters cannot bring themselves to praise him, why should we vote for him? Such is the case with Ray Meier. Oh, sure, Ray Meier's supporters love to talk about Michael Arcuri, and how much they hate him. However, when it comes to Ray Meier, they don't have much of anything to say.

    At this late date, there still is not one single blog or web site particularly dedicated to supporting Ray Meier's campaign for Congress, other than Ray Meier's own campaign web site. Not one.

    There are sites, like CNY Underground, operated by people who support Ray Meier's campaign, but the people who run these sites don't write about Ray Meier, and what a great congressman he would make. Instead, all they can do is criticize Mike Arcuri.

    Don't get me wrong: These people should be free to write whatever they want. If they want to criticize Michael Arcuri instead of trying to write about what makes their own candidate a good choice, that's their business.

    I just think it's worth noting that Michael Arcuri's supporters are different from Ray Meier's supporters in this regard. Michael Arcuri's supporters criticize Ray Meier, sure. But, Arcuri supporters also write positive articles about their own candidate. They have lots to say about what makes Arcuri a good choice.

    Heck, people who are at all familiar with this blog know that I am not Michael Arcuri's biggest fan, but even I have written many articles praising Arcuri.

    The negativity of Ray Meier supporters ought to serve as a warning to voters in New York's 24th congressional district, because the character of a candidate's campaign is an indication of what the character of the candidate's performance in office would be like.

    We don't need a right wing representative who will spend all his time trying to pull other people down. Yet, Ray Meier's supporters only know how to attack. They don't know how to build anything positive. That's reason #3 out of 30 to not vote for Ray Meier for Congress.

    Saturday, September 16, 2006

    Ray Meier is Soft on War Criminals

    Reason #2 Not to Vote for Ray Meier: Ray Meier is Soft on War Criminals

    I want to talk about a basic test of moral values in this campaign. It shouldn't even be an issue, but there are some very radical ideas being tossed around in the offices of the Republican power elites in Washington D.C. these days.

    I'm a Democrat, but I'm not so partisan as to deny that there are plenty Republican politicians who are basically decent human beings, and try to do the right thing, even if they are misguided in their ideology. This week, Republican Senators John Warner, Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Susan Collins showed good moral character when they joined the Democrats in the Senate to support a bill that opposes a plan proposed by George W. Bush.

    Bush's plan proposes an end the right to a fair trial in America and would make torture a legally sanctioned part of law enforcement in the United States. No kidding. On Friday, Bush actually threw a tantrum before television cameras and said that if he couldn't torture prisoners in secret prisons, he wouldn't be able to do his job any more. That's a claim that no President has made before - not Roosevelt during World War II, and not Lincoln during the Civil War.

    I wish I could say that's as far as President Bush's proposal goes. However, it gets even worse. Part of Bush's proposal is to coddle war criminals. Bush says that Congress should pass a law giving permanent amnesty to people who break the laws of war to abuse prisoners of war.

    We Americans ought to take a moment to step back and remember why the laws of war were created. They were put in place because regimes like that of Nazi Germany were using war to do terrible things to human beings. Americans were among the victims.

    Now, George W. Bush is saying that America ought to let its standards slip. Bush is saying that if people behave like Nazis during war time, that's just the way things go, and nobody should make a big deal about it.

    This is a simple moral issue that George W. Bush has presented all Republicans with. I don't mean that to say that all Republicans are responsible for Bush's effort to go soft on war crime. Rather, I'm saying Republicans around the country are now being challenged to show what kind of Republicans they are. Will they stand with John McCain or will they stand with George W. Bush?

    Here in New York's 24th congressional district, we have the right to ask this question of Ray Meier. What kind of Republican is Ray Meier? Is he a Bush Republican or a McCain Republican? Does he support Bush's proposal, or does he support McCain's proposal?

    Does Ray Meier support George W. Bush's plan to coddle war criminals?

    The people of the 24th congressional district have spoken. They don't agree with this vision of going easy on war criminals. A huge majority of people in our district reject the Bush agenda's plan to allow standards of basic moral decency fall apart.

    However, on this matter, Ray Meier is silent. Can you believe that? Ray Meier wants to be elected to the United States House of Representatives, but he refuses to say whether he thinks that the Geneva Conventions ought to be abandoned or not - even though Congress is working on the issue right now!

    If a Republican candidate for Congress disagrees with the positions put out by the leader of his political party, in this case the President of the United States, it is the responsibility of the candidate to speak up and say so.

    Ray Meier's silence is its own answer.

    While the government is working on a plan to offer unconditional and permanent amnesty to criminals, Ray Meier does nothing. He says nothing. He doesn't even ask any hard questions. He just stands on the sidelines, letting other people take responsibility.

    Ray Meier fails this moral test. Ray Meier is soft on war criminals.

    That's just reason #2 out of 30 not to vote for Ray Meier.

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    Actresses Are Not the Problem With America

    Reason #1 Not To Vote For Ray Meier: Actresses are not our biggest problem

    Oh, this is an easy one to start with. Republicans like to say that they care about local issues, but what line has Ray Meier's campaign come out with this week? They say that Barbara Streisand is a plague on New York's 24th congressional district.

    Michael Arcuri got a check from Barbara Streisand, and the Republicans instantly whipped themselves up into an outraged frenzy. Here's what the National Republican Congressional Committee has to say on the matter:

    "Maybe receiving the backing of Babs doesn't raise eyebrows in Hollywood, but Streisand's positions are way out of the mainstream in Upstate New York."

    Do the Republicans really believe this bull?

    Right now, Republicans in Congress are preparing to pass legislation that makes people who torture prisoners immune from prosecution, and takes away our right to see the evidence against us when accused of a crime. The Republican Congress is preparing to take away the right of habeas corpus, for goodness sakes. The Iraq War is getting ever deeper into disaster. The war in Afghanistan too, which was once seen as a great success, has disintegrated so far that it is now teetering into failure. The Republicans have failed to capture Osama Bin Laden. They've ignored global warming, which is already causing huge damage to our economy and threatening human lives. The Republicans have brought us high gas prices combined with no minimum raise increase in an entire decade. The Republicans have made government bigger than ever before, and pushed the burden of government services to the local level, forcing property taxes to rise. Republican spending is out of control, and corruption in Congress runs rampant.

    All these things are having a real impact on the lives of people in the 24th District. But did Ray Meier address any of these problems this week? No. Instead, Ray Meier's attack dogs are going after a singer and actress who doesn't even live here.

    Instead of dealing with the real problems we're having, Ray Meier's people are busy trying to convince everyone that the biggest problem we have is Barbara Streisand.

    I don't know what kind of crazy, out-of-touch world the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee lives in, but I can tell them that Barbara Streisand does not raise eyebrows here in the 24th district. If you go up to someone on the street here, and ask them, "What is your opinion about the Barbara Streisand problem?", they'll just look at you funny and walk away. If you ask them, "Isn't it outrageous what Babs did?", they won't have any idea what you're talking about.

    When was the last time you saw groups of citizens across our district organize to fight against the threat of Barbara Streisand? It hasn't happened. There are, however, many groups of citizens organized throughout our district because of their concerns about problems ignored by the Republican government in Washington, D.C.

    We have real problems to deal with. We don't need a congressman who thinks that it's his number one priority to fight Barbara Streisand. That's reason #1 not to vote for Ray Meier for Congress.

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    The Second-Choice Path to Victory is Against Ray Meier

    So, where do we go from here? With Michael Arcuri dropping the ball with the no show at the debate in Herkimer, it's become ever more clear that the Democrats cannot win this seat in Congress by convincing people to vote for Mike Arcuri.

    It's also clear that Arcuri has no intention of changing his ways, and running a campaign to inspire Democrats to turn out to vote. Perhaps Arcuri is incapable of changing. Perhaps he's so insulated from what Democrats are saying about him throughout the district that he still doesn't realize that there's a problem

    Michael Arcuri is a rotten campaigner, and he's got a very bad attitude about being open to the voters. Probably, that's due to his position as District Attorney. The only elected office he's ever had is one in which he's accountable to the law, not to the people. So, it kind of makes sense that his idea of what elected officials do is to make decisions about what's best on their own, and not pay attention to what the public has to say about it.

    What it comes down to is this: Arcuri is lousy politician with lousy people skills, but he's on the right side of the political debate. Ray Meier, on the other hand, is a skilled politician with slick people skills, but he is a part of a dangerously radical failed political agenda.

    Even though I don't like Michael Arcuri's campaign, and I don't think he'd be accessible to constituents as a member of Congress, he's still my pick in this race. Better the idiot to add his voice to a larger cause than the smart guy who wants to lend his skills to the destruction of the foundational democratic values that have made America great.

    The only option here is to stop trying to swim against the current. I'll put it on the record right here and now that I think Arcuri is a crass bumbler, but no one needs any more proof of that. What we need is to prevent right wing Ray Meier from getting elected to Congress.

    No more nagging of Michael Arcuri. He's too dense to hear it. For the few remaining weeks in this race, I'll follow the path that Michael Arcuri himself has gone down: Hiding in the background as a generic and unspecific Democrat while hoping that people will simply vote for him instead of Ray Meier because they're sick of the Republicans.

    Mike Arcuri wants to win this race by just being a Democrat. He seems to figure that just being a Democrat, even if no one knows who he is, will get him to win so long as people know that Ray Meier is a Republican.

    I'll be focusing on that aspect of the campaign - what's the matter with Ray Meier. There's no use trying to argue that Arcuri is great. I can, however, try to make the honest argument that Ray Meier would be a terrible choice.

    It's time for my last long list of the campaign season: For the remaining time, I'll be working on a list of 30 reasons not to vote for Ray Meier. It's the most I can stomach.

    Fury At Arcuri: The Candidate Skips School

    I was up late last night working when word came to me about what Mike Arcuri did yesterday. I wrote a long, furious article as a result, and just then, through some quirk, my browser quit mysteriously. It's probably a good thing, as that article may have been a little bit over the top. Now, in the morning, I can't quite remember, but I think I called Michael Arcuri the son of some kind of farm animal. I'm glad now that , in the light of day, I have the chance to try again, and be a bit more fair this time.

    After all, I don't think it's right to insult farm animals.

    You don't know what happened yesterday? Well, yesterday, Michael Arcuri was supposed to go to Herkimer to take part in a debate. What actually happened is that Michael Arcuri never showed up.

    The Arcuri for Congress campaign has known for four months that this debate was coming. Michael Arcuri had confirmed that he would attend. He had time to prepare. He had time to clear his schedule. Rumors are that he was in Washington D.C. meeting with Democratic Party insiders. I haven't seen any official news sources confirming that yet. Arcuri had a representative say that he had a "previous commitment".

    This is something that Michael Arcuri has never understood: When it comes to running for Congress, there is no such thing as a previous commitment. All other commitments go out the window.

    Not showing up to a political debate is like not showing up to a job interview. What's amazing to me is that Michael Arcuri has the chutzpah to not show up - and then still ask for the job. When you don't show up to a debate, you don't just insult the debate organizers. You insult the voters, especially the Democrats who have been sticking up for you.

    Imagine if, during the 2004 presidential election, John Kerry had simply decided, with no warning, not to go to one of the debates he had against George W. Bush. The election would have been over with then and there.

    So, is this election over with here and now? Can Michael Arcuri possibly win?

    The only way that Arcuri can win this election is if he proves that he is willing to change his ways. So far, Michael Arcuri has been outlandishly lazy, acting as if he can win just by being a Democrat, and not doing much. He has tried to simply ride the wave of anti-Republican sentiment in our district, supposing that people will vote for him even if they don't know who he is.

    Now, people know who Michael Arcuri is. They know that Michael Arcuri is the guy who didn't bother to show up. That's a pretty good description of the entire Arcuri for Congress fiasco, come to think of it. Michael Arcuri is the candidate who never bothered to show up.

    If Michael Arcuri were a strong candidate in other areas, he wouldn't be in trouble. But, Arcuri has no particular strengths to fall back on when he so tremendously screws up.

    1. Michael Arcuri has alienated groups in the Democratic base
    2. Michael Arcuri has no strong online campaign with which to get support from outside the district
    3. Michael Arcuri has demonstrated an inability to work with the media to get his story out
    4. Michael Arcuri appears invisible in the district, even when he goes out campaigning, keeping his campaign calendar secret so that few people show up to his events
    5. Michael Arcuri has still not communicated a coherent message about his political identity

    Honestly, I don't think that the Arcuri for Congress campaign will read this article. His campaign has been dangerously insulated from outside voices from the start. But, if someone from Mike Arcuri's campaign did happen to come on by, here's what I'd advise.

    1. Take a leave of absence from your job as District Attorney, or quit the race.
    2. Personally visit each and every Democratic County Chair, and anyone else that can be brought together from each county committee on short notice. Apologize. Grovel. Explain to them how you're going to make it better
    3. Do the same, with a bit more dignity, for the Democratic voters of the 24th district. We all deserve an apology, and a damned good explanation, from you, Mr. Arcuri.
    4. Shake up your campaign committee. It has not served you well. Put new people on the committee from around the district, and make sure the people from outside Oneida County are at least equal number in number to the people from inside Oneida County.
    5. Organize a real online campaign. Put someone on the committee who will be devoted to coordinating work on the web.
    6. Fire Quadsimia, and get a corps of 10 Cornell University students who can put up a new web site by themselves, as a team, and make changes at a moment's notice.
    7. Reach out to the Democratic base groups that you've alienated, like the NAACP, and local antiwar activists.
    8. Hold a one-day intensive brand seminar with a group of political, policy, and marketing veterans from around these parts. Use this brand seminar to develop a clear identity for the Arcuri campaign, a central theme that is relevant and motivating to the voters around which everything else will be organized. No more of this "When you know Michael Arcuri, you'll want him representing YOU in Congress!" garbage. This new Brand Arcuri has to be a based upon a credible point of differentiation from Ray Meier, as well. Saying that you'll work to create jobs isn't good enough. Everyone running for Congress says that.
    9. Get out on the road, every day, to meet with voters. Let them know well ahead of time that you're coming. Put it in your new online campaign calendar. And then SHOW UP!

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Why Won't They Send President Bush?

    So Laura Bush is coming to campaign for Ray Meier. Big whoop. Sure, the move will bring in some money for Ray Meier, with two thousand dollar tickets for a couple to have their picture taken with the President's wife.

    But why aren't they sending George W. Bush himself?

    The race for New York's 24th district seat in the House of Representatives is one of the 20 closest races in the country. Typically, a strong President will go out to campaign for the candidates in the districts where the races are tight.

    Yet, so far, there has been no indication that Bush will come here to help out Republican Ray Meier.

    The reason is pretty clear. Our district's voters overwhelmingly think that George W. Bush has been a failure as President. 63 percent of likely voters in our district disapprove of the job that Bush has done.

    Our district's Republicans can read the tea leaves. They see that the Bush Republican policies they've been pushing on us for years now are not approved of our district's voters.

    If Ray Meier is regarded as a Bush-style Republican, he loses. If Meier can convince voters that, in spite of his long years supporting failed Bush policies, he'll be an independent, Lincoln Chafee sort of Republican, he can win. Likewise, Michael Arcuri can win if he convinces Democrats here that he's more like Ned Lamont, a Democrat with a spine who opposes Bush's failures, than Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat who will help Bush whenever it's convenient.

    It's hard to get 63 percent of our district to agree on anything, so 63 percent agreement that Bush is bad for America shines out as the key to the election. 89 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of independent voters, and almost 40 percent of Republicans disapprove of Bush.

    For Democrats, clear victory can come if Mike Arcuri figures our how to communicate the following basic message:

    A vote for Ray Meier is a vote for Bush.
    Michael Arcuri will stand up to Bush.

    All the rest is a distraction.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Who Should I Vote For Today? Arcuri, or...

    It's an exciting primary election day here in New York's 24th congressional district. Today is the day when ordinary Democratic voters get to head out to the polls and choose for themselves who will represent them in the General Election this year. Yes, in other countries, people only have the chance to support the candidates that corrupt insiders and power brokers choose for them in behind the scenes dealing. Not here in America!

    Yes, there's a reason I'm a member of the Democratic Party, and not just like one of those unaffiliated voters out there who don't belong to any political party at all. True, the Democrats aren't perfect, but by registering to vote as a Democrat, I get to have a say in the direction of the party, by voting in the primary for the candidate who represents my interests and ideals the best.

    I'm about to head out the door myself, going to the town hall where our local elections are being held. But I'm not really sure who I'll vote for to represent the Democrats this year. Will it be Michael Arcuri, or... uh...

    And who will my Republican neighbor turn out for? Will it be Ray Meier or... uh...


    Whe the choice is between voting for a candidate or not voting at all, is that really a democratic election?

    Since Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri forced their competitors to end their primary campaigns, this congressional race has become positively tepid. It seems that the lesson of this year's congressional campaign is that it's important to avoid contentious primary battles...

    ... because that way everyone in the district can go back to sleep.

    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    Ray Meier Second Highest in Right Wing Competition

    Republican Ray Meier likes to say that he'll be like Sherwood Boehlert, but Ray Meier is no moderate. A practical demonstration of Ray Meier's ideological extremism is found in his participation and performance in a competition for money through a right wing political action committee that runs the Rightroots program. It's called Rightroots for a reason - and it's not because its candidates are moderate.

    Rightroots describes Ray Meier's position along with its other favorites by saying, "these candidates represent our best chance to retain control of Congress and to enact a conservative agenda." Conservative is a nice word for it. These are people who believe that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum represent the mainstream. They're endorsed by publications like Right Wing News and Ankle Biting Pundits.

    Do we really want our next Congressman to be the guy endorsed by Ankle Biting Pundits?

    Guess how Ray Meier performs among this group of right wing political radicals? He's their second most successful fundraiser. I don't think that's something Ray Meier ought to be proud of.

    Ray Meier doesn't represent New York's 24th district's values. He's out there on the radical fringes of a failed ideology of fear. This year, we need to put Ray Meier's Rightroots kind of extremism behind us.

    Dangerous Numbers for Michael Arcuri: 7.6 and 7.6

    7.6 and 7.6 - these are the Voter Motivation Index scores Constituent Dynamics found in their poll of New York's 24th congressional district - for Democrats and for Republicans, respectively (or not respectively, come to think of it).

    These numbers are the same. Should they be?

    Here we are in a year when the Democrats have the first reasonable chance in living memory of gaining the congressional seat of the 24th district, when the Republican agenda is at its most exposed and reviled since Watergate, when the Republican President is disapproved of by most voters in the district, when the Democrats have had two frustratingly close yet unsuccessful presidential bids in a row, and when the national Democratic Party is giving unprecedented levels of support.

    Democratic motivation to vote should be much, much higher than Republican motivation. It's not. Why?

    Let me put out a wild idea for an explanation: It could have something to do with the fact that the Democratic candidate for Congress won the nomination through behind-the-scenes maneuvering, not through an appeal to the voters, has created the impression that he takes the Democratic vote for granted, and in general has been extremely slow and weak in communicating a compelling message to Democratic voters.

    I know. It's a crazy explanation - especially when it's so easy to blame the Utica Observer-Dispatch for not getting the message out about both candidates in an equitable manner.

    Remind me again: Why are we in the position where the Democratic candidate relies upon the whims of newspaper reporters to get out his message?

    Saturday, September 09, 2006

    Why Won't Arcuri Run Against Bush?

    In late August, MSNBC quoted our Democratic congressional candidate, Michael Arcuri, as saying, "I'm a moderate. I’m not here to run against George Bush." I've been thinking about that statement for the last couple of weeks, wondering what in hell would lead Arcuri to say such a thing.

    In our district, only 30 percent of likely voters say they approve of George W. Bush. 63 percent disapprove of Bush. 7 percent aren't sure. With numbers like this, if you make the election a referendum on the Bush Administration, the most credibly anti-Bush candidate wins in a landslide.

    Connecting this House campaign to the record of the Bush Administration isn't just politically convenient. It's a valid link, given that the Republican Congress has helped George W. Bush in just about every terrible mistake of the last six years. Ray Meier would perpetuate that problem, and in doing so, continue the mess that George W. Bush has made of our government.

    Why would Michael Arcuri be concerned about losing the small bloc of pro-Bush voters, when he could gain a huge 63 percent majority?

    The answer is pretty sad. It seems that Michael Arcuri is listening to the outdated advice that the only way a Democrat can win in this district is to act like a Republican. Arcuri is not looking at the facts. The facts clearly show that the best way to lose a race for Congress in this district is to act like a Republican.

    These poll numbers come from the Constituent Dynamics poll conducted August 27-29.

    In the Mud With Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri

    To say that I'm disappointed is like saying that a rattlesnake bite can itch. This week was full of opportunities for our congressional candidates, Republican Ray Meier and Democrat Michael Arcuri, to raise the level of debate to deal with issues of great importance, not just to our district, but to the entire American nation. What's at stake are matters as basic as whether we get to keep the liberty guaranteed us in the Bill of Rights. The next Congress will either protect that liberty or allow it to be destroyed - so it's important what Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri have to say on the matter.

    Unfortunately, the campaigns of Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier aren't talking about these kinds of things. They're talking about opinion polls. They're talking about themselves.

    It gets worse than that. Michael Arcuri, Ray Meier, and their supporters in Utica have spent the last few days arguing about a local drug bust, whether it involved pornography, and whether excessive force was used. Those are all important local issues, but they're only relevant to the congressional campaign in as much as both candidates have failed to discuss the larger issues that the United States House of Representatives deals with. Instead of calling us to a higher road, Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier are wallowing in the mud of local politics.

    In that mud fight, it appears that Michael Arcuri is losing, and may be doing so through his own alarming political clumsiness, not through any brilliant maneuvers on Ray Meier's part. Less than two months before Election Day now, and Mike Arcuri has chosen to do battle with the NAACP.

    Michael Arcuri was recently quoted in the Utica Observer-Dispatch, calling leaders of the NAACP "silly", and saying their complaint of police brutality "doesn't even dignify a response". I've heard rumors that this move will soon be added to the Encyclopedia Brittanica's entry on "political insanity".

    First, allegations of police brutality always dignify a response. The proper response is "We take such matters very seriously, and will investigate these allegations thoroughly to ensure that everyone is being treated with the respect that they are due."

    Second, the NAACP should be a political ally of the Democrats in this campaign. Michael Arcuri should be working with the NAACP, not against them. There should be no room even for the perception that Michael Arcuri would target black people for prosecution for the sake of political gain.

    Third, Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier both need to get their heads out of the local political game, regardless of whatever petty rivalries they've built up with different groups over the years. Our congressional candidates need to work to unite our district with an appeal to our better selves and our higher ideals.

    The 24th district ought to be filled with a good debate about issues like Iraq, protection of our constitional liberties, about the democratic process, about protecting Social Security, dealing with global warming, and finding solutions to the energy crisis. Instead, we're getting a contest that looks more like a competition for County Sheriff.

    Disappointment doesn't begin to cover my reaction to the way this race has developed.

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Are You For The Bill of Rights, Or Are You Against It?

    There is value, in political communication, to stating issues in simple terms that are easy to understand. So, let me phrase this issue in terms of a simple question, one that Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri ought to answer: Are you for the Bill of Rights, or are you against the Bill of Rights?

    If you're for the Bill of Rights, then you must be against the proposal put forth by George W. Bush this week. President Bush has asked Congress to give him the power to put people on trial without allowing them to see the the evidence against them. Bush wants to convict people of crimes and punish them on the basis of secret evidence that the accused, and the accused's lawyer, never gets to see. Why will the evidence be secret? Well, Bush wants to keep that information secret too.

    So, what will this new kind of trial look like? You can boil it down to three steps.

    1. The government accuses you of a crime.
    2. The government says that it has evidence that proves your guilt, but that evidence has to remain a secret, so no one can see it.
    3. You're convicted and sentenced to pay a fine, spend time in prison, or even be put to death.

    This is not the American way. I'm don't mean that abstractly. I mean that, as a matter of law, this procedure is not the American way of holding a trial. It's the way they held trials in Nazi Germany, or the Soviet Union. The Constitution of the United States of America says that what Bush is asking to do is strictly forbidden.

    The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights, reads:

    "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense."

    A couple days ago, a smart aleck came on this blog and declared that the Constitution only gives rights to American citizens. Everybody else has no rights, this person claimed. It's amazing what a bold assertion, given under the cover of ignorance, can do. The plan fact is that this person was dead wrong. The Constitution of the United States regulates the American government completely, including its dealings with all people under its powers. Everybody under the jurisdiction of the US government - including all its prisoners, foreign and domestic - have the same constitutional rights.

    Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier are lawyers. They know what the historical standard has been. They know what rights the Bill of Rights guarantees us. They also know very well what George W. Bush has proposed.

    If Bush's request is put into law, it will be through the Congress. Mike Arcuri and Ray Meier are asking to represent us in Congress. So, it seems to me quite appropriate that Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier address this issue. Do they support the Bill of Rights or not?

    So far, Arcuri and Meier have both been silent about the extraordinary revelation that President Bush personally ordered the creation of an illegal system of CIA prisoner of war camps in which torture methods like waterboarding are being used against prisoners who have had their habeas corpus rights and Geneva Conventions protections denied to them.

    This silence is shocking, given the gravity of the situation. It should not be compounded by a silence in response to the attempt by Bush to overturn the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    Stuart Rothenberg Concurs About Our District's Weak Democrats

    Finally, the inside-the-beltway political pundits are starting to pay attention to the problems in the Michael Arcuri for Congress campaign. I've been jumping up and down, waving my hands frantically for months now (metaphorically speaking - perhaps literally jumping up and down would have helped) desperately trying to get the people at the Arcuri for Congress campaign to pay attention to the voters and stop trying to coast their way to victory. So, it's nice to see that Stuart Rothenberg is concurring with my judgment about the way this campaign is being handled by the Oneida County Democrats. Today, Rothenberg writes:

    "Are there any places where Democrats may not catch a wave that they once expected to build? Try upstate New York.

    So far, there is precious little evidence that the Democrats’ “perfect storm” — which is based on Democratic landslides in the state’s races for governor and the Senate, as well as President Bush’s low poll numbers in New York — is helping many Democrats in upstate New York.

    The 24th district remains a bit of an oddity, a place where each party insists its candidate is ahead. Incumbent Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R) is retiring, and both District Attorney Michael Arcuri (D) and state Sen. Ray Meier (R) are appealing. The district leans Republican, and Democrats seem a bit too optimistic for my taste."

    Too optimistic? That's putting it mildly. We Democrats outside of Oneida County have spent the summer being told not to worry about Michael Arcuri's appearance of inaction. Don't worry, they said to us. Any minute now, the Mike Arcuri phenomenon would spring into devastating action, like a hungry tiger... and we waited... and waited. It's two months now until Election Day. We're still waiting.

    They said that if we Democrats didn't have a primary, we would be the stronger for it, standing united and all that. Instead, it now looks as though the lack of a September 12 primary for the 24th district Democratic voters has taken all the steam out of this election. Michael Arcuri has had no motivation to keep campaigning hard. The 24th district's voters haven't had any reason to notice that a congressional race even exists. Our district's newspapers haven't had anything other than piddling little nonsense stories to report on - nothing that would really fire up the majority of voters. So now, on September 7, it's as if the Michael Arcuri for Congress campaign is starting from square one. Most Democrats in the district still don't know who he is.

    Today, the National Journal downgraded our district's congressional race from 11th place in the nation to 17th place. With an open seat in a district that is trending toward the Democrats, we ought to be surging forward, not falling back.

    I'm not happy to see this happening. Although I've been a gadfly buzzing around the ear of the Arcuri for Congress campaign all year long, that's not because I want to see a Republican elected - as some conspiracy theorists in our district seem to believe. No, I actually want Michael Arcuri to win. However, wanting something is not going to make me shut my eyes and ignore all aspects of reality that do not concur with my wishes.

    As I see it, Mike Arcuri already has plenty of sycophants telling him what a great guy he is, and what a great job he's doing as a congressional candidate. They may join in a Yes Man chant, saying, Gee, Mike. If everybody just knew you like we knew you, they'd all want you as their congressional representative, but that's not the way I think.

    The way I see it, the Arcuri for Congress campaign will be best served by honesty. Michael Arcuri seems to desperately need someone to sit down with him and have the hard conversation that he doesn't want to hear. Arcuri will best be served not by cheerleaders, but by sober voices speaking truth to his power.

    Some people believe that it's the job of voters to idolize the candidates that their political parties put forward, to offer unconditional support for the good of the team. I don't agree. I think that's thinking backwards.

    It's the job of our party's candidate to work for us, and if that candidate wins the seat, it becomes the candidate's job to work for the entire district. We the people don't serve our congressional representatives. They're supposed to serve us, and they need to start that attitude of service with the way they run their campaigns - open, accessible, and responsive.

    When a congressional candidate makes the mistake of running a closed, unresponsive, and secretive campaign, as Michael Arcuri has done, it is not the job of that candidate's party members to look the other way and pretend that there isn't a problem, chanting rah, rah, rah all the time. It is our job as Democrats to nag, cajole, and coerce our candidate into running the kind of campaign that we deserve.

    Some people say that I just don't get it, that this is about doing whatever it takes to win. I say that we the citizens of the 24th congressional district cannot possibly win if our next representative in Congress doesn't care to listen to what we have to say - even if that representative is a Democrat.

    Ray Meier is the wrong choice for the House of Representatives. That much is crystal clear. It is far from clear, however, that Michael Arcuri is the right choice.

    Rothenberg is right. It's time to cut the happy talk. Arcuri needs to work like hell to earn our trust if he wants to win.

    Recognition from Squidoo on Mike Arcuri Lens

    It's no secret that the Democrats in Oneida County aren't too fond of me. They took early exception this year to my independent writing on the congressional election here in New York's 24th congressional district. In response to my critical writing, urging Michael Arcuri to do a better job in reaching out to voters outside of Oneida County (advice that still needs to be heeded), I got all sorts of threats and insults. I was going to be exposed, they told me.

    Since then, most of those who aimed rhetorical buckshot my way have faded from the scene. But, I still get some satisfaction at the recognition that comes from outside the district every now and then. Today, that came in the form of earning Lens of the Day distinction over at Squidoo - just for putting up a lens focusing on the Michael Arcuri for Congress campaign.

    Megan Casey of Squidoo had this to say on her blog today.

    "Lensmaster Jonathan Cook is a self-described New York State Democrat who lives in the 24th District, in the village of Trumansburg, in the town of Ulysses, in Tompkins County, in the Finger Lakes.

    And he's quite a smart political thinker.

    I don't say that because I'm a supporter of Michael Arcuri for Congress (my political persuasions shall remain a mystery!), but because I'm a supporter of people who get that lenses are incredible tools for grassroots politics.

    I especially like the advantages v. liabilities breakdown on this lens.

    What candidates are you supporting? What do you want from your party? What infuriates you about the issues? One by one, lenses contribute to online political opinion. And you better believe the candidates are watching."

    Thanks, Megan. I do wonder, however, if the candidates are watching, in this case.

    The presence of supporters of Michael Arcuri on the Internet has faded, not increased, as Election Day gets nearer. From the beginning, many close to Mike Arcuri have been steadfastly insisting that the Internet doesn't matter to congressional campaigns... and then watched as other Democratic candidates outcompeted Arcuri and got rewarded for their online activism by groups like Democracy For America and the Progressive Patriots, 2008 presidential candidates like John Edwards, and even the DCCC, which so proudly held up Michael Arcuri as a favorite recruit earlier this year.

    It's flattering to get positive attention of the sort that Squidoo provided me with today, and so I'll toot my own horn like an obnoxious ass tonight, but the truth is that I really haven't done anything that requires any particular political smarts at all. In the 2006, online campaigning should be an obvious choice, because it provides scope and control of outreach at an outrageously small cost.

    Yes, I put up a lens about Michael Arcuri's candidacy on Squidoo. That's no big deal, really. It's easy to do, and it's free. The important matter to consider is why the Michael Arcuri for Congress campaign didn't do it, and why they're still not doing it.

    I really, truly, honestly don't get it. Why won't the Arcuri campaign people, or even his volunteer supporters, use the power of the Internet to help Arcuri's candidacy? Do they consider the Internet to be beneath them, or something?

    Huge Undecided Group Result of Lackluster Campaigns

    It's amazing to me that the Ray Meier for Congress campaign would choose to release the results of its latest poll to the public. Oh, sure, the poll contradicts the claims by Michael Arcuri that he is ahead in the polls, but the poll results aren't a great reflection on Ray Meier either.

    Yes, the poll shows that Ray Meier is about ten points ahead in the poll (eleven points in Oneida County - so much for the Oneida County Democrats arguing that Michael Arcuri can win the race because he's from Oneida County, and that the rest of the district doesn't matter). But what's the margin of error of that poll? It's much larger than the margin of error from Arcuri's poll. Meier's poll has a margin of error of about 6 percentage points. That means that the poll only reliably shows a four percentage point lead for Ray Meier.

    That's not much at all, especially when you consider what should be embarrassing to both candidates: The huge group of people in our district who, with just two months until Election Day, say that they're undecided. 25 percent say they can't make up their mind whether to vote for Ray Meier or Michael Arcuri. That's just six percent less than those who say they'll vote for Arcuri.

    Mind that these poll results are for likely voters. They're not just ordinary citizens, but citizens who are the most likely to be paying attention to politics, and taking part in it.

    These are the kind of results you get when the candidates try to coast their way to victory, saying not much of anything to appeal to anyone. Most of the substance of this campaign has come when Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri try to tear each other down with little papercut accusations about things like "Skippygate" or Ray Meier spending campaign money without reporting it quite correctly. Other than that, all we voters hear is a bunch of generic garbage like "Hi. My name is _____, and I'm running for Congress. I support people having jobs."

    What does Michael Arcuri stand for? What does Ray Meier stand for? Nobody really knows. Watching these candidates campagin has been like watching a battle of between Quaker and Cream of Wheat over the oatmeal market.

    The next session of the House of Representatives will be making historic decisions about the very core of what it means to be an American, but you wouldn't know it by watching Arcuri and Meier campaign. The strategy employed by both sides seems to be to bore the vast majority of voters with mind-numbingly banal babble, in the hopes that the dedicated voters of their side will be able to outnumber the fanatics of the others.

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Bush Admits War Crimes - Will Arcuri and Meier Stay Silent?

    Today, the stakes of this year's congressional elections got much, much higher. Today, George W. Bush admitted that he has committed war crimes.

    Oh, he didn't call them war crimes, but that's what they are.

    1. Bush admitted that he has set up secret prisoner of war camps in undisclosed locations around the world, and refused to allow human rights monitors access to those camps.
    2. Bush admitted that he personally authorized the use of what he calls "alternative procedures" of interrogation. "“I cannot describe the specific methods used — I think you understand why — if I did, it would help the terrorists learn how to resist questioning,” Bush said.

    These actions, taken by Bush himself, are in clear violation of the laws of war that have passed into American law by the United States Congress and are legally binding upon the President of the United States and all government employees, military and civilian, who work under the orders of the President.

    Those so-called "alternative procedures" Bush talks about are nothing more than torture. What, after all, makes them "alternative"? What is Bush saying that those procedures are alternative to? They are alternative to the laws of the United States of America, which appply to everyone, including President Bush.

    This is serious stuff, folks. It's serious because President Bush's justification for these activities is that the laws of the United States of America don't apply to him any longer. I'm not making that up. That's actually the argument that Bush's lawyers are making.

    Now think - if President Bush is not bound by the laws of the United States of America any longer, then what is left to stop him from doing anything he wants to do? What is there that can stop him from throwing you into prison and never give you a fair trial?

    Think that's a far-fetched scenario? Think again. It's already happened, to people who have later been shown proof positive never to have engaged in any terrorist activity. There are people who have been picked up off the streets, thrown into airplanes, and sent to these secret prisoner of war camps that Bush admitted to today, tortured, and then released when it was discovered that they were not criminals of any kind, but were just cases of mistaken identity.

    This isn't some kind of Tom Clancy thriller we're talking about here. It isn't a conspiracy theory. This is for real. These war crimes are being done in your name. Will you allow it to continue?

    There is one group of people in America who have the power to stop George W. Bush's insane grab for the powers of a dictator: The Congress.

    So far, President Bush has asked the Congress to look the other way while he breaks the law. So far, the Congress has complied. In this year's election, we have the opportunity to change that.

    President Bush is betting that we won't have the guts to do anything about it. He's made the calculation that the American people just don't like to talk about difficullt things like torture, and the Geneva Conventions. Oh, he knows that we'll impeach our President for getting oral sex, because oral sex is fun to talk about. But, President Bush knows that there is no way that the hosts of Entertainment Tonight will ever bring up something so serious and unsexy as the Geneva Conventions and laws prohibiting torture. President Bush is betting that if the news doesn't hit Entertainment Tonight, you won't care about it.

    Our candidates for the House of Representatives in the 24th district of New York state now have a grave responsibility of leadership. It is their responsibility to bring this matter of national interest to our attention. It is their responsibility to discuss this matter, the violation of the law by the President of the United States, and tell us voters what they intend to do about it.

    It is the responsibility of Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier to discuss this difficult matter, even though the discussion will probably not help them to get elected. This matter is not the kind of thing that can easily be used as a political tool. It is not a safe matter for a congressional candidate.

    Yet, Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri have the responsibility to discuss this matter precisely because it is unsafe. When the President of the United States abuses his power, breaks the law, and endangers the Constitution of the United States of America and the democracy that it protects, all Americans are made unsafe.

    It won't be enough for them to bring the matter up at private meetings with small audiences. It won't be enough to refer to this matter in a few lines of a stump speech. Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri are both lawyers. They know what the law is, and they have the ability to discuss the law with intelligence and detail. We, the voters of the 24th district, deserve to see that kind of discussion of the illegal actions of the President of the United States. We deserve to be told by Meier and Arcuri both, without condescension, how they regard the situation and what they intend to do about it if elected.

    These are serious times. Will Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri show the ability to be leaders, and not just salesmen? Will they issue adequate statements on this matter?

    Honestly, I don't have confidence that either Ray Meier or Michael Arcuri will rise to the occasion. Give their past behavior, I think it's more likely that the candidates will take the easy way out, and pretend that there isn't a problem. If I had to make a bet on it, I'd wager that Meier and Arcuri will stick to the tried-and-true campaign formulas they've been following so far. They'll talk about how many jobs they'll bring to the district. They'll nitpick about campaign donations.

    I'd very much like to be proven wrong, by either candidate. This should not be a partisan issue. The issue is the good of the United States of America, and the continuation of our system of laws and democratic government.

    This is a time to stand up for the values that form the foundation of the United States of America - corny stuff like liberty, equality, and the rule of law. This is a time for politicians to rise above politics and become statesmen.

    This is a challenge for us all, as citizens - not just for those who are running for public office. It is a test of our moral character. Do we really love the American way, or are we willing to allow it to pass out of existence out of mere laziness and indifference?

    Will you take the challenge? Will you pass the test?

    Arcuri Gets Specific On Iraq. When Will Meier?

    Republican Ray Meier has offered voters nothing but nonsense, delusions and excuses when it comes to Iraq. Meier's closest thing to a plan to end the Iraq War is for President Bush to come up with new talking points about the war - as if just talking about Iraq with a few new catchphrases will clean up the mess there.

    According to David Wittenberg of the Cornell Daily Sun, Democratic congressional candidate Michael Arcuri has done what Ray Meier has refused to do, and offered specific goals for getting America out of Iraq. David Wittenberg reports that, when Mike Arcuri attended a Labor Day picnic on Cayuga Lake, he got offered a timeline of withdrawl, at least for the National Guard:

    "Arcuri said he supports bringing the National Guard home from Iraq by the end of 2006 and the troops home by 2007."

    That's a great start, though we could use a complete plan. You know, the kind that Les Roberts offered earlier this year. It's mind-boggling to me that people can run for Congress this year without giving a detailed vision about what America should be doing in Iraq. Unfortunately, this isn't the only district where ambiguous and foggy talk on Iraq has been the rule rather than the exception.

    Post script: Exactly where was that picnic? oh, good question - Arcuri still doesn't like to let anyone know when and where he'll be campaigning next, and Wittenberg doesn't mention it.

    Ray Meier Gives Doubletalk on Supporting Science

    In the latest news release by Republican congressional candidate Ray Meier, Meier claims that he supports "more aggressively fund scientific research."

    That claim caught my attention, because we in the 24th district have a higher than average number of college and university campuses, and funding for scientific research is a significant force in the local economy.

    So, it would be great if Ray Meier were telling the truth, and supported full funding for scientific research. But, the sad fact is that Ray Meier isn't telling the truth. Ray Meier does not support full funding for scientific research.

    Let's take stem cell research, for example. Ray Meier knows very well that a strong majority of people in our district are strong supporters of stem cell research, so he tries to obscure his position as much as he can, but the fact is that Ray Meier has joined with George W. Bush to oppose full funding for stem cell research.

    Why does Ray Meier oppose full funding for scientific research into stem cell therapies? He opposes funding the scientific research because the Religious Right, made up of radical preachers like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, have said that they don't approve.

    The first step in Ray Meier's approach to providing funding for scientific research is to ask for the approval of America's own religious fundamentalist leaders first. If these right wing extremists don't give their okay, then Ray Meier thinks that the research shouldn't get any funding at all.

    That's not the American way of doing things. That's how they do things in countries like Iran, where the Council of Clerics has the power to approve which kinds of scientific research are in accordance with the teachings of the Koran. That's how the Europeans did things back in the Dark Ages, when the Church forced Galileo to stop looking through his telescope because, as everyone knew, the Sun revolved around the Earth.

    Ray Meier's approach to science would take our district and our nation backwards to a time when knowledge was feared, and when medicine was based on superstition, powerless to help people suffering from disease. Ray Meier's approach to science would dry up the federal funds that come to our district to support research that makes our lives longer and more healthy.

    Ray Meier won't level with us. He says one thing, and then does another. Talking out of both sides of his mouth, he says he'll be aggressive in funding scientific research, but then pledges to oppose funding scientific research.

    This is about more than just funding for science. It's about trust. As the issue of stem cell research proves, Ray Meier thinks that it's okay to be dishonest in what he says to the voters of the 24th district. If Ray Meier will lie to us about that issue, how can we believe anything that he says.

    So, let me close this article with a mnemonic device, a simple rhyme that will help you remember why Ray Meier's dishonesty about funding scientific research is important:

    Ray Meier is a liar.

    Say that three times, and you'll never forget it. If you're a voter in New York's 24th congressional district, you never should forget it.

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    A Candidate Who Gives Us Something to Believe In

    Early this morning, I wrote about how Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri have both failed to give voters something to believe in. This afternoon, I found a Democratic candidate who has found a way to communicate with voters in an honest, compelling way about an issue that matters to them.

    In California's 3rd congressional district, which wraps around Sacramento in kind of the same way that New York's 24th congressional district conveniently avoids Ithaca, Democrat Bill Durston is running against incumbent Republican Dan Lungren.

    Bill Durston has seen war. He's a Vietnam Veteran who has been decorated for bravery in combat. He came back to the United States after that war, determined to put it behind him. He became a medical doctor and a community leader. Now, with his son of military age, he's seeing Vietnam all over again, returned in the form of the Iraq War.

    So, Bill Durston decided to run for Congress, but he didn't want to just give the same old kind of political speeches people are used to hearing. So, Durston decided to speak from the heart about war. Or, more accurately, he decided to sing from the heart.

    Bill Durston wrote a song about where America stands with war, from his own personal perspective as a father and as a son. He wrote War is Not a Game, and had it recorded by a couple of musicians who support his campaign.

    Go click on the link above. Download the song and listen to it - it's free.

    Agree or disagree with the message of the song, but you can't deny that it has power. It tells you who Durston is, and what he believes in, and why he'll make a responsible member of Congress - without ever saying "Vote for Bill".

    Every candidate has to find a way to reach voters in a way that's honest and natural for them. Most of them won't write a song, and that's just fine. But a palm card and a stump speech are not enough.

    Neither Ray Meier nor Michael Arcuri have gone even one step beyond the formulas of campaigning. They don't have much longer to do the job, and so, although we have a high profile political race on our hands, the chances are quite good that whomever wins, we'll have a stranger representing us in Congress next year.