Monday, October 30, 2006

Help Protect The Vote In The 24th Congressional District

Whether we plan on voting for Ray Meier, Michael Arcuri, Michael Sylvia or none of the above, I hope that we can all agree that the integrity of the elections process is essential. If we voters cannot trust that the vote on Election Day is being administered fairly, then cannot have confidence in our government. Without that confidence, democracy fails.

The development and deployment of electronic voting machines that create no verifiable paper record of how votes are cast is undermining voters' confidence in the honesty of the electoral system. It's been proven that electronic voting machines without a verifiable paper backup can be hacked in less than one minute so that fraudulent votes replace the votes that we actually cast - and there's no way to tell that the hack has taken place. What's worse is that these hacks can be designed to spread from machine to machine, much as a computer virus does.

Given the atmosphere of uncertainty that these developments create, it becomes all the more important that we all be on the lookout for attempts at voter suppression and fraud. Write this number down: 1-888-VOTE-TIP. It's a phone number dedicated to receiving information about criminal attempts to manipulate the electoral system.

We ought not to descend into paranoia, but there is cause to maintain some suspicion. We may not have the best candidates to choose from in this election, but we should at least be sure that whichever lousy choice wins our seat in the House of Representatives does so fair and square.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Is it really all about the TV ads?

News about the 24th district race reminds me of the real hype around the Superbowl. It isn't so much who wins that matters, but what happens in the commercials. All the talk about the candidates seems centered around the advertisements they, or their parties, place on television.

Most prominent of all has been the story of the aftermath of the ridiculous slur by the National Republican Congressional Committee against Michael Arcuri. In a television advertisement, the Republicans accused Mike Arcuri of asking taxpayers to pay for a phone call he made to a phone sex service. The accusation, taken literally, is mostly true, although the call may have been made by an aide to Arcuri and not Arcuri himself. However, it became clear many weeks ago that the call was a mistake which lasted less than a minute, and then the correct phone call to the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services phone number, which had just one different digit, was made. The charge for the mistaken phone call was just $1.25 - not exactly enough to break a budget.

The story about this TV ad from the Republicans has made the national news, with coverage on national radio, television, and even in newspapers clear across the continent. Why? People read and watch stories about sex.

No story about the policy positions that relate the important decisions Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier would make representing us in Congress has received anything like this kind of coverage. Why? Most people don't read and watch stories about the public policy measures and oversight that constitute the real work of Congress.

People these days tend to regard congressional campaigns in the same way that they regard celebrity news shows like Entertainment Tonight. They look for news that indicates the personalities of the candidates instead of looking for information about the accomplishments and policy agendas of the candidates. Campaigns are treated as personal dramas rather than political discussions.

This dynamic is similar to what motivates most of our decisions. Whether we're buying a car or a computer, we're driven less by what we need than by the fantasy storylines we create in our heads about how these things will fit into our lives.

Television advertisements for congressional candidates like Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier appeal to us because they provide us with quick and easy codes for understanding who the candidates are without having to bother trying to understand the substance of what the candidates stand for. By coming to an emotional understanding of who the candidates are, we indirectly come to understand who we are ourselves.

The emotional storyline of the phone sex line advertisement appeals to people even after they know the facts of the case, because it tells voters something that they are ready to believe. The advertisement tells voters that rampant, promiscuous sex is threatening their families, and that the plainly sexless Ray Meier will protect them from the threat. The commercial isn't really about the phone sex call at all. It's about people's sexual and social insecurities.

The reason so much of the news coverage is about candidates' advertisements on television is that it's in those ads that the greatest emotional power is displayed. The combination of visual, audio and linguistic cues combine to great effect.

That people should be swayed by such messages is part of human nature. However, there's another part of human nature that these TV ads show little regard for: Our intelligent, rational minds.

It requires strength of will, but we can make decisions based upon what's right for our district and our nation, rather than what feels right. We can attend to candidates' qualifications and ideas about the business of Congress, rather than to the images and suggestions that entertain, flatter, and titillate us.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The question about Mike Arcuri and the Military Commissions Act

In the pragmatic view of politics, perhaps it doesn't matter so much whether what a candidate does is right or wrong as whether what that candidate does helps or hurts the election effort. I don't cotton much to that pragmatic view, myself, but I know that a lot of other people do.

So, let's consider the impact of Michael Arcuri's support for the Military Commissions Act in a pragmatic sense. Yes, it was a betrayal of Democratic voters for Michael Arcuri to join forces with George W. Bush to support the worst law to come out of the Bush White House in six years, a law that the New York Times called, "a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts." Oh, but let's not consider right and wrong. How did this decision by Arcuri to support the Military Commissions Act impact his election?

Yesterday, I discussed how Eric Massa, a Democratic candidate in the congressional district next door, who opposed the Military Commissions Act, facing a Republican incumbent, a poverty of national Democratic Party support, and a population that is further toward the right wing than in our district, is doing better than Michael Arcuri in the polls. Today, I want to ask a simple question to shed light on Mike Arcuri's own prospects in the wake of his Military Commissions Act support:

Is there one single person in New York's 24th congressional district who is now supporting Michael Arcuri because of Arcuri's support of the Military Commissions Act, who did not support Michael Arcuri until Arcuri supported the Military Commissions Act, and who would have voted against Michael Arcuri if Arcuri had opposed the Military Commissions Act?


If so, name yourself. Is there even one reader out there who fits this category? If not, then Michael Arcuri did not help his campaign by supporting the Military Commissions Act.

That would make Mike Arcuri not only morally vacant, but an inept politician as well.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Eric Massa and Michael Arcuri on Military Commissions Act

One of the only justifications that the Arcuri for Congress campaign has been able to come up with for its support of the Military Commissions Act is the claim that, if Mike Arcuri had not supported the Military Commissions Act, the Republicans would have bashed and battered him with it.

That claim has always seen a bit absurd to me. I mean, what kind of lawyer is Michael Arcuri, if he cannot defend himself from the criticism that he failed to support a law that puts American soldiers in danger? The Military Commissions Act in fact places American troops in grave peril, because it undercuts the enforcement of the Geneva Conventions worldwide. Now that the United States of America is failing to enforce the Geneva Conventions, thanks to the Military Commissions Act, our current and future enemies have much less incentive to adhere to the Geneva Conventions themselves. American soldiers are now at much greater risk of torture, forced labor, and other forms of abuse when they are captured by rival governments.

Of course, a little thing like the facts of the actual impact of legislation has never stopped politicians from making extravagant claims. After all, Michael Arcuri supported the Military Commissions Act without even bothering to read it. So, it's not surprising that Arcuri claims that the Republicans would destroy his campaign if he did not support the Military Commissions Act.

Let us voters not join the politicians in running away from the facts. Let's take a look at a real world comparison to see what would have happened if Michael Arcuri had decided to have a backbone, and take a stand against the Military Commissions Act.

Over in the 29th congressional district, Democratic congressional candidate Eric Massa has had a more challenging campaign that Michael Arcuri. The seat isn't open. Massa is running against an incumbent Republican. The 29th district's population tends to lean more strongly toward the right wing than our own 24th district.

And then there's the fact that Eric Massa opposed the Military Commissions Act. If the campaign of Michael Arcuri for Congress were correct in its claims, the Republicans ought to have made mincemeat of Eric Massa. However, that just hasn't happened. In fact, since he opposed the Military Commissions Act, Eric Massa's campaign has become all the stronger.

In the Constituent Dynamics poll taken in October - after the passage of the Military Commissions Act - Eric Massa is doing better in his district than Michael Arcuri is doing in our district. Eric Massa has a lead that is 3 points greater than Arcuri's lead, in spite of all the additional handicaps that Eric Massa has had to overcome.

In comparison to the tough campaign Eric Massa has had to fight, Michael Arcuri has had a cakewalk. When Michael Arcuri supported the Military Commissions Act, he stepped in the cake, and tracked it all over the carpet. Voters are rewarding Eric Massa for doing the right thing. Too bad Mike Arcuri just didn't have the guts to do the same.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Michael Arcuri Loses Fred Bieling's Support

I'm not the only Democrat in the 24th District who has rejected Michael Arcuri's campaign for Congress on the basis of Arcuri's support for the Military Commissions Act.

Fred Bieling, of the Mccs1977 blog writes,

"After confirming with Mike Arcuri's campaign staff, I hereby immediately drop all support of the Democratic nominee for the New York's 24th Congressional district based on his support for S.3930, the Military commission Act of 2006."

Bieling did not make his decision to support the congressional campaign of Libertarian Mike Sylvia easily. He writes, "I waited almost a week doing a dance with his campaign over the phone, holding off printing some of the good news about his run, waiting for an explaination for what I'd read."

I won't tell you how to vote in this election. The truth is that there is no good choice for voters with a conscience and a love of liberty in this election.

Myself, I'll be voting for none of the above.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Arcuri Tries to Weasel on Military Commissions Act

Michael Arcuri still supports the Military Commissions Act - and it looks like he still hasn't even bothered to read the law - and neither has his campaign manager.

Arcuri's campaign manager, feeling the heat from local Democrats' anger about Arcuri's support for George W. Bush and the Military Commissions Act sent a message of attempted contrition in which he wrote, "He [Michael Arcuri] would have supported the bill because, while imperfect, it places some important restrictions on this adminstration, and then he would have moved immediately to seek legislation to deal with the Habeas Corpus problem."

The habeas corpus problem? Is that all that Michael Arcuri and his campaign manager think is wrong with the Military Commissions Act? If that's true, then they definitely have still not bothered to read the text of the law.

What about the Geneva Conventions problem, for example? Does Michael Arcuri know nothing about that? If you don't believe me that the Military Commissions Act ends enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, fine. You shouldn't believe something just because I say it's true. Go read the text of the Military Commissions Act yourself, and search for the following phrases in italics - oh yes, they're in there.

The Military Commissions Act gives George W. Bush the unlimited power to engage in de facto amendments to the Geneva Conventions. The text of the law includes the following provision:

"The President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions"

Everyone, including Senator Mike Arcuri and his campaign manager, ought to know what this means. President Bush attempts to amend laws all the time by means of such interpretation, through signing statements. President Bush has shown a willingness to interpret a law outlawing torture in such a way that it actually allows him to torture people whenever he wants to. President Bush has in the past interpreted the legislation that makes the Geneva Conventions legally binding in American law in order to claim that the President has the power to apply Geneva Conventions however he wants, or not at all. The Military Commissions Act gives that power to the President when it did not exist before.

That's one way that the Military Commisions Act ends enforcement of the the Geneva Conventions - by giving the President the power to amend it however he sees fit. Another way that the Military Commissions Act amends the Geneva Conventions is seen in another selection from the law, below:

"No alien unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by military commission under this chapter may invoke the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights."

This part of the Military Commissions Act is certainly a dramatic amendment to the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions applies to all people on a battlefield, without distinction between alien and citizen or lawful and unlawful. Well, at least that's how the Geneva Conventions used to work. Now, thanks to the support of Democrats like Mike Arcuri, that is no longer true - not for the United States of America.

Oh, but it gets worse. If you think that you're safe because you're a citizen, well, you're plain wrong. Read the following additional clause from the Military Commissions Act:

"In General- No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States is a party as a source of rights in any court of the United States or its States or territories."

No more Geneva Conventions protections for anybody captured by the United States. Is that what Michael Arcuri stands for, or does he just not know that this provision is in the law?

I'm guessing Michael Arcuri simply has no clue. When Arcuri and his campaign staff came to Trumansburg, he told the Democrats there that he gave the Military Commissions Act his support without bothering to read it first.

Supporting Republican legislation without even reading it beforehand - is that what we deserve in Congress? Hell, no.

I'm not going to tell you how to vote in this election, because there is no good choice. You follow your conscience. But, 24th district Democrats, don't let the Oneida County Democratic Committee tell you that this is the best Democratic choice that was available for 2006.

Give them a piece of your mind, and demand a better Democratic candidate for 2008 - whether Arcuri wins this year or not.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What Kind of Fools Does Ray Meier Take Us For?

Look, I'm not fond of Michael Arcuri. I think he's a rotten leader, a rotten Democrat, and even a rotten politician. But I think Michael Arcuri is going to win this election, in spite of how rotten he is.

Here's why: As rotten as Michael Arcuri is, he at least has the brains not to try to tell us that the sun is shining when we can see that it's raining. Arcuri won't tell us it's July when there's snow on the ground. Arcuri has at least enough sense to not try to tell us we're buying a Formula One racecar as he's handing us a tricycle.

Ray Meier? He doesn't even have that much sense.

What kind of fools does Ray Meier think we are? Does he think we don't know the reality that's staring us in the face? 73 American soldiers are dead just halfway through this month. A full score may be dead just this week, and as the Republicans keep on sending our soldiers into the middle of the chaos, it only gets worse, and worse, and worse.

All this, and what does Ray Meier have to say about Iraq? "Our military and diplomatic forces on the ground can help the Iraqis establish a stable and free Iraq," he says. Just a nip here and a tuck there, and everything will be just fine, Ray Meier says. Don't worry about our American soldiers, he says. Everything's going just swell.

That's bullshit. You and I know it. Ray Meier knows it too.

But, will Ray Meier say so? No, he's more concerned with winning the election.

I can't stand the idea of Mike Arcuri serving in Congress, but even I can see that Ray Meier takes us all for fools.

Ray Meier, Mark Foley, and Mike Arcuri All Wrapped Up WIth a Kinky Bow

It's time to talk about the biggest campaign issue of this election season: The Mark Foley sexy email homoerotic page-turning scandal. It's the most policy-free issue of the year, and so, naturally, the mainstream media have been talking about it non-stop.

Michael Arcuri is certainly doing his part to keep that talk going. The Arcuri for Congress campaign has been doing its darndest to connect Ray Meier to Mark Foley, and drag Meier down to defeat with the ghosts of congressional pages past hanging around Meier's neck all the way. Mike Arcuri complains that Ray Meier took donations from Republican organizations that in turn took donations from Mark Foley.

It's a two-degrees-of-separation thing. Though Mark Foley works in the Congress in Florida and in Washington D.C., and Ray Meier works as a state legislator in Utica and Albany, we're supposed to come to the conclusion that somehow, Ray Meier is partially to blame for Mark Foley's sexual advances on vulnerable teenage boys.

By these rules of guilt-by-association, Michael Arcuri has some answering of his own to do. You see, just before the scandal broke and Mark Foley resigned from Congress, he voted in favor of the Military Commissions Act.

You remember the Military Commissions Act, don't you? Sure you do. It was signed into law just two days ago. It revokes habeas corpus, ends enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, legalizes torture, gives the President power to imprison anyone that he declares to be an "enemy", trashes our justice system by creating an alternative system of kangaroo courts, and gives legal amnesty to war criminals. In short, the Military Commissions Act is even more kinky than Mark Foley.

Now, as Mike Arcuri has drawn the connection between Ray Meier and Mark Foley through a money trail, let's draw the connection between Michael Arcuri and Mark Foley through the legislative trail.

Political equation #1:

A. Mark Foley donated money to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
B. Ray Meier accepted money from the National Republican Congressional Committee.
C. Therefore, Ray Meier accepted "tainted Foley money"!

Political equation #2:
A. Mark Foley supported the Military Commissions Act.
B. Michael Arcuri supported the Military Commissions Act.
C. Therefore, Michael Arcuri supports a tainted Mark Foley agenda!

What, you think that this argument isn't fair? If you reject one political equation, you have to reject the other. They use the same twisted logic, after all... Or do you kind of like it twisted?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri Follow Boehlert's Bad Record on Liberty

This election is all about retiring incumbent Republican Sherwood Boehlert, or so the two major party candidates would have us believe.

Michael Arcuri says that he will be a "Boehlert Democrat" - a Democrat who will vote like a Republican.

Arcuri's opponent, Republican Ray Meier, gives out broad boasts comparing himself to Sherwood Boehlert, such as the article that crows, "State Sen. Raymond Meier is the perfect candidate to replace U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, according to Vice President Dick Cheney." Dick Cheney's word isn't exactly as good as gold these days, of course. No, to be more accurate, Dick Cheney's word is as good as lead.

So, Arcuri and Meier have come to praise Boehlert before they bury him. That's an improvement on Julius Caesar, I guess. But what does the promise from Arcuri and Meier to follow Sherwood Boehlert suggest on the centrally important issue of defending American freedoms?

It suggests that we're in for trouble, no matter who wins.

The Progressive Patriots' Oath of Office Index gives Sherwood Boehlert only a 29 percent approval rating on voting to protect American liberty over the last two years.

Sherwood Boehlert voted to renew the Patriot Act, with almost all of its big government abuses against the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. The government's got your flight records, your medical records your credit card records, your telephone records, your Internet records, and it's putting all these together into one big database - Total Information Awareness reborn, thanks to Boehlert's vote. Boehlert specifically refused to cosponsor legislation that would have prevented government agents from using the Patriot Act to search through your library records and bookstore receipts.

Congressman Boehlert also voted to block an amendment that would have protected religious liberty. Instead of supporting that amendment, Boehlert supported a measure that would have allowed employees of programs funded by the federal government to be fired for no other reason than that they don't belong to the same religion as their boss. No kidding.

Worst of all, Sherwood Boehlert voted in favor of the terrible Military Commissions Act, which ends enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, revokes habeas corpus, gives legal amnesty to war criminals, and creates a system of law that allows the President to either throw people in prison with no trial at all or to subject people to show trials with legal standards that are so low that they may fairly be compared to the Salem witch trials.

That's not the kind of record on American freedom that either Ray Meier or Michael Arcuri should be trying to replicate. Yet, Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri don't seem to worry about a little old thing like freedom very much. They both support the Military Commissions Act, just like Sherwood Boehlert.

That's a shame, because as the Progressive Patriots point out, the oath of office for everyone entering the House of Representatives commits the person to protect and defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic. Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri seem more interested in defening their ability to get elected.

Is their shared disdain for the freedoms guaranteed us in the Bill of Rights likely to help them in the polls on Election Day? If so, that's a sign that the voters in this district have drifted as far away from a true love of freedom as Sherwood Boehlert has.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mike Arcuri and Ray Meier on Constituent Services

I've spent the last few days trying to wash the accumulated filth from the Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri campaigns off of me, and today comes the signing of the hideous Military Commissions Act into law - which both Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier support.

The Democratic Party leadership in our district has done nothing for us on this law. Not a peep of resistance. The Republicans have given a deep bow of gratitude in respect for the passing of our liberty, gone away...

And so, this day of disgusting weakness from both Democrats and Republicans alike leads me to examine one of the most important issues of this campaign: Constituent services.

Oh, I'm not talking about the nasty kind of constituent services that involve getting a job for your kid in return for writing big checks for the campaign of the victor. That's clearly motivated loyalists in the campaigns of both Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier from the start.

I'm talking about genuine constituent services: Meeting with constituents, listening to their concerns, and doing something about it.

First, let's get something straight about what part of this district is being represented in Congress: Oneida County. If you live outside of Oneida County, don't bet on getting many constituent services, whether it's Michael Arcuri or Ray Meier who gets elected to Congress. From the start, this race has been obsessively focused on the northeastern corner of the district, to the neglect of the rest of the district.

Both Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier say that they'll provide lots and lots and lots of constituent services. Talk is cheap. Let's look at their actual performance working with the public as candidates.

Ray Meier has shown a lot more openness in general, especially when it comes to dealing with the press. Michael Arcuri's campaign has refused contacts from people in the media wanting to ask questions about Arcuri's position on the issues. Throughout the campaign Michael Arcuri's strategy has been to say as little as possible, and to run an underground campaign that avoids scrutiny.

The attitude from the Arcuri for Congress campaign seems to have been that the less contact Mike Arcuri has with voters outside social circle of the Democratic Party Committees throughout the district, the better. Michael Arcuri's campaign shut down the discussion board on his campaign web site when constituents started asking questions that made Arcuri feel uncomfortable. Expect the same from Mike Arcuri if he's elected to Congress.

Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri both have chosen not to publicize their campaign appearances beforehand, relying on their party faithful to bring only voters who are likely to be supportive to campaign events. This approach to campaigning is disgustingly reminiscent of President Bush's tour to promote his scheme to destroy Social Security - only Republican-friendly audience members were informed of the scheduled stops ahead of time. Ray Meier has never had a campaign calendar up. Michael Arcuri? Oh, he had a campaign event calendar up, but he never put any events on it.

The Arcuri for Campaign's web development team at Quadsimia has been so pathetically clumsy that they still have a link to the campaign event calendar at the bottom of the front page of the campaign web site. Hint to anyone who wants to run for Congress in the future: Above all else, do not hire Quadsimia! They've screwed up the Arcuri for Congress web site from day one. In general, neither Mike Arcuri nor Ray Meier seem very aware or very interested in online outreach, which is a shame, given the terrible, stretched-out geography of our district. Remembering Ray Meier's prolonged "Hello World!" debut online still brings winces from area Republicans. Both Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri seem more comfortable in the old era of communications by fax, mimeograph and written memoranda, not at all equipped to work with a district that's economic hopes lie in no small part in the promises of the geographic neutrality of work in the online world.

Both Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri are more connected to the national political party structures than they are to constituencies here in the district - with the exception of Utica politics, which looks like a really dirty pool. Count on both Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri to vote more according to the demands of the political action groups and party congressional campaign committees than the needs of us here in New York's 24th district.

Michael Arcuri's campaign does have this to say in its favor: It has taken fewer political action committee donations than Ray Meier's campaign. Michael Arcuri's campaign has taken just 36% of its donations from PACs, while Ray Meier's campaign has taken a whopping 52% of its dollars from PACS. Of course, many of the PAC donations that Arcuri has taken are rather sinister - the big check written from Joseph Lieberman's right wing New Democrats is a pretty big stinker, for example.

All in all, don't expect much in the way of genuine constituent services from either Ray Meier or Michael Arcuri - they know where their bread gets buttered, and it isn't in your kitchen. Expect a lot of bluster about jobs and developments, but little accessibility for real discussions with your new representative, no matter who wins.

Neither candidate has shown much propensity for respect for the voters in this election, whether it comes to Michael Arcuri's failure to even show up at the agricultural issues debate and insults hurled at the NAACP or to Ray Meier's thousand-dollar-per-plate dinners.

What Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri wants to tell you is that neither of them would have much power as a freshman member of the House of Representatives. We'll experience many years of a lean pork diet here in the 24th district, until someone can establish seniority, and start a dole of the big bucks for their cronies.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Vote Your Conscience - Arcuri, Meier or Sylvia

I've taken a day off to reflect on the complicated dynamics of this election, and come to one obvious conclusion: My views don't represent the views of the majority of the Democrats in this district.

To put it more plainly, my views don't represent the views of 98 percent of the Democrats in this district.

That disappoints me greatly, of course, but then, I don't think that my disappointment alone will persuade 24th District Democrats to give a damn about the issues that I care about.

Someone left a message here pointing out that I really may not belong in the Democratic Party. I'm inclined to agree, at this point, but won't make a final decision about that until after this election is through.

I don't feel the need to take back anything I've said about Michael Arcuri. I think he's a terrible candidate with an agenda of self-promotion that will lead him to betray Democratic voters here whenever he thinks that he needs to and that he can get away with it. Given the reaction of Democratic voters here to his support for the Military Commissions Act, I'd say that he'll be able to get away with it most of the time. I'm furious at Michael Arcuri about that, but even more, I'm furious at the Democrats in our district about that.

But, Ray Meier is also a terrible candidate, and he runs to support a political party that is even worse than the Democratic Party. To write all the reasons Ray Meier is a terrible candidate in a single article would be impossible. Let me just summarize. Ray Meier: Very, very, bad.

The truth is, I admire a lot of what Mike Sylvia has to say. But, am I a Libertarian? No. I believe in the power of people to come together to do good things. That means I still bellieve in the goodness of government, at least when we have a more enlightened citizenry than we do at present.

So, where does that leave this election? The two major candidates support an unforgivable law that takes away the very foundations of our freedom. Both of them believe that they can support that law without consequences, and they're both right. After all, CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News aren't covering the story of that law, and if it's not on TV, I don't think it exists as an issue in the minds of most Americans. Other issues have more sex appeal. Liberty, fair trials, and that funny Latin phrase habeas corpus are just too plain musty for most people here to get worked up about.

So, I've done what I can to bring the issue of the Military Commissions Act to light here. It must return as a vital issue, but it doesn't stand a chance now, when 30 second TV spots dominate the political debate. On this issue, I have this last warning: There are very dark times ahead for our nation if we do not repeal this law, and do so quickly.

Where does that leave this blog? Neutral and adrift of any political party structure - pre-independent, you might say. I don't support any of the candidates, but honestly, candidates are not what I've been most interested in writing about in this campaign anyway.

There are more important things than candidates. They're called issues, and they persist as important things even when candidates aren't out in our district using them as selling points.

I'll spend the rest of the short time left in this campaign season writing about the issues other than the Military Commissions Act, and where the two candidates who stand a snowball's chance in hell of getting elected stand on those issues.

I'll stop trying to tell anyone what to do with this election, because the truth is that there are no good choices. You decide which issues matter to you. You decide how you will vote. We may not have habeas corpus, and half the Bill of Rights may have been trashed, but at least we still have the vote... so long as electronic voting machines haven't been tampered with.

Democracy is all about this basic concept: We may make a rotten mess out of our country, but at least it's our mess.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ghosts of What Could Have Been

This morning's news reflects a huge tragedy in Iraq, and a smaller one here in New York's 24th Congressional District. The team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University led by Les Roberts has released the results of a new study to update its 2004 study of deaths of Iraqis resulting from the American invasion and occupation. The new study finds that approximately 650,000 Iraqis have been killed because of the war the Americans started there. When the margin of error is taken into account, the reality could actually anywhere between 426,369 and 793,663 dead.

So, let's be conservative and take the low estimate. Even at that number, this is an unprecedented slaughter that's taking place in Iraq. That's right - unprecedented. It is estimated that Saddam Hussein's government, over the space of 20 years, killed 290,000 Iraqis. That means that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has Saddam Hussein beat by 136,369 victims - at a minimum.

For you to imagine the impact this is having on Iraqis, reflect on this: The equivalent death rate from such an invasion of the United States would result in 4 million dead Americans.

This, and the Republicans are still going on about how September 11 changed everything. September 11 resulted in only 3,000 dead. That was a very bad day, but it was just one day, and it's only a grain of sand compared to the violence that's going on in Iraq.

For that violence, every American who did nothing to stand against the invasion of Iraq in the months before the war in 2002 and 2003 is responsible. That includes Ray Meier and that includes Michael Arcuri. Neither one lifted a finger to try to stop the war.

Our election this year could have been different. Instead of having a choice between unworthy candidate Michael Arcuri and worthy candidate Ray Meier, we could have had a choice between a strong Democrat and Ray Meier.

If Rahm Emanuel and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) had not come into our congressional district to interfere and push out all of Michael Arcuri's competitors, and if our Democratic County Committees had not so eagerly helped Emanuel do it, we could have had the time to properly evaluate the worthiness of both Mike Arcuri and Les Roberts. We Democratic voters could have had a choice.

We could have had an intelligent Democrat. We could have had a Democrat who actually knows something about policy issues. We could have had a Democrat who is motivated by trying to make America a better place, not by his own ambition.

We could have had a Democrat capable of talking for himself, not just repeating the talking points produced by the DCCC like a puppet. We could have had real debates based on substance. We could have had a Democrat that we believe in, not a Democrat that we have to apologize for.

Instead, we got no choice. Michael Arcuri was forced upon us. And now, he's going around the district talking about what a great thing the Military Commissions Act is.

Now, the rallying cry of Democrats across the 24th district is, "If we elect Michael Arcuri to Congress this year, at least we can get rid of him in 2008!"

The members of the Democratic County Committees in our district ought to resign their posts in December out of shame for allowing things to get this bad.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Independents Angry at Arcuri Over Military Commissions Act

The following is the reaction of Jodi, a political independent in the 24th District, to Michael Arcuri's support for the Military Commissions Act:

(The Military Commissions Act is a new law soon to be signed into effect by President Bush that revokes habeas corpus, ends enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, gives legal amnesty to war criminals, legalizes torture, gives the President power to imprison people without criminal charge, and sets up kangaroo courts with absurd rules designed to railroad defendants into conviction without a fair trial.)

"Here is a Democrat, trying to say that electing a Democrat to Congress will make a difference. And yet he supports torture? Who needs Democrats like these?

Now, is he really a Republican? Is he a sicko? Does he hate freedom and the rule of law? Does he think the Geneva Conventions are quaint like the rest of his ilk?

Probably not. Instead, he is trying to appeal to independent voters. It's like he thinks he has the left fringe of the Democratic Party in the bag, so he is going for independents in a district that is sixty percent registered Republican (I think; I didn't look it up).

So, what is an Independent? Paul made a great point while we were at dinner last night. He said that Arcuri's fantasy of an independent is of a someone in the middle. Arcuri presumes an Independent is the split in the hair that separates Republicans from Democrats. This is a truly stupid thing to think. Why presume Independents are there? Why not guess that they are actually Independent because no party represents their views? And, why not try to give these people a reason for voting? A reason grounded in political difference, political will, an opposition to, why not, FASCISM???"

The point Jodi makes is one that I've made before. Political independents are often not at all centrist or moderate in their political opinions. They're often looking for strong, principled, intelligent voices and regard the Republicans and Democrats as disturbingly similar: Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

When Michael Arcuri gave his support to George W. Bush's Military Commissions Act, he didn't just make Democrats angry. He earned the wrath of independents like Jodi too. These are independents that he cannot win the election without...

... unless Mike Arcuri's strategy is to swerve so far to the right that he'll earn the votes of a group of Republicans along with Democrats too loyal to the name of Democrat to notice the difference.

Post Script:
Writer Adam Elkus reacts to what Jodi has written, saying, "It's depressing that we've gotten to the point where opposing torture and the revoking of habeus corpus automatically makes you a 'fringe leftist.'"

I agree, Adam.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Another Voice on the Military Commissions Act

You've heard me talk enough about the catastrophic impact upon American liberty of the Military Commissions Act, a new law that both major candidates, Republican Ray Meier and Democrat Michael Arcuri, say that they support and would have voted for, if they were now in Congress.

It sounds too horrific to be true: Revoking habeas corpus and the Geneva Conventions, legalizing torture, allowing the President to imprison whomever he wants without explanation, show trials at which the defendant cannot even see the evidence used against him. How could Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri support such a law, you're probably asking yourself. You may well conclude that it's just not possible, and that I must be making it all up. After all, the TV news networks aren't talking about it any more, ever since that Mark Foley scandal came up...

I'm resolved to try to bring this issue to the attention of voters any way that I can, until either Ray Meier or Mike Arcuri renuciates their support for the law. But, I'll give you a break from my voice. For the next few days, I'll bring you what others are saying about the new law, adding their voices to mine in the hopes that readers will pay some attention to this historic moment that has grown so dreadfully quiet.

Today, I'll quote what Robyn Blumner, who writes for the St. Petersburg Times, has to say about the Military Commissions Act that Arcuri and Meier support:

When the people’s representatives collude to collapse the separation of powers into one omnipotent executive, our nation becomes defined by that act...

Bush will be free to determine what abuses by interrogators do not rise to the level of “humiliating and degrading treatment.” Then detainees will be barred from court to challenge that treatment.

The law is a true abomination. It is our fault. We let this happen. We allowed them to draw the false dichotomy between security and freedom. We accepted Bush’s Torture Nation and his untouchable island prison...

Americans no longer understand what liberty means. They think it has something to do with tax-free shopping and their right never to be offended by others’ opinions.

E Pluribus Unum be damned. Here’s America’s new motto: If we can’t pronounce your name, we don’t care what happens to you. Now let us get back to our Happy Meals.

Is Ray Meier Worse Than Michael Arcuri?

A Democrat reader left a comment here today, asking if I could please get back to writing about the problems with Ray Meier - the Republican opponent to Michael Arcuri. As I've made plain in the past, I'll get back to criticizing the many bad things about Ray Meier - but only after Michael Arcuri repudiates his support for the Military Commissions Act.

I want to explain why.

The essential question in this matter is whether whether, in spite of Michael Arcuri's support for the Military Commissions Act, Ray Meier is still a more dangerous choice than Michael Arcuri. My answer to that question is that Michael Arcuri is, in fact, more dangerous than Ray Meier, if you understand where the most pressing danger lies.

Does Ray Meier present a danger through his sure contribution to a Republican majority in Congress? Yes. However, Michael Arcuri presents an even worse danger: Contributing to a Democratic Party that gives in to the worst aspects of the Republican agenda.

There Republican Party is completely out of reach for reform. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is the subject of an intense battle. That battle is over the ideological identity of the Democratic Party.

One group, led by the likes of Harold Ford Jr. and Joseph Lieberman, wants the Democrats to be like the Republican Party - and believes, in fact, that progressive idealism is a problem. They'll do whatever it takes to win, including going along with legislation that rips the Constitution to tatters.

The other group, led by the likes of Senator Russ Feingold, believes that the Democratic Party has to be different from the Republican Party. They want the Democratic Party to stand up for basic progressive values such as keeping the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution intact. These Democrats are not willing to sacrifice those freedoms in order to win - because they regard such a victory as the most terrible kind of loss.

Michael Arcuri is in the first group.

I'm in the second.

I am no more willing to vote for Michael Arcuri just because he's a Democrat than I would be to vote for Joseph Lieberman just because he's a Democrat.

If Lieberman and Arcuri's group of Democrats win,and convert the Democratic Party to their vision, the Republicans will be out of power, but it won't make a lick of difference, because the Democratic Party will have become just like the Republican Party - and Americans will no longer have a real choice. The only thing we'll be able to choose between is right wing political party #1 and right wing political party #2. Such a result would be much worse even than the present circumstance, which is to have a minority party that stands up for what's right at least some of the time.

I don't favor having the Republicans retain control of Congress, but I favor the Democrats losing their progressive political identity even more.

This choice is especially important in elections such as the one here in New York's 24th congressional district this year. Our Democratic candidate, Michael Arcuri, has joined forces with George W. Bush himself, to support the most unjust legislation in America since the South's Jim Crow laws.

It's not a great thing to withhold a vote from Michael Arcuri. However, it's better than the alternative, which is to have a morally corrupt Democrat representing our district. Mike Arcuri would not represent us Democrats well, but if he's elected this year, he'll become the default establishment Democratic pick in our district in every election to follow, and it could be decades before we have even the hope of a Democratic primary again.

Are you willing to have Michael Arcuri represent the name of Democrat for our district for the next 20 years?

Michael Arcuri Issue Advertisement: On Liberty

Bloggers love to comment on the advertisements that congressional candidate make to promote their campaigns - as if it's the advertisements that really matter. Oh well, if you can't beat them, join them, right?

So, here I am joining them - with a twist. Instead of commenting on the insipid and patronizing advertisements created by both Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri, I'll create my own Michael Arcuri advertisement, seen below.

Oh, it's not an advertisement for Michael Arcuri. Rather, it's an advertisement for American liberty, asking you and Mike Arcuri to give a damn about it again.

By the way, FEC watchdogs, it's not an advertisement for Ray Meier either. I oppose Ray Meier's campaign as much as I oppose Michael Arcuri's (Ray Meier says he'll supports the Military Commissions Act too). Consider it an issue ad by an independent voice unaffiliated with any campaign - namely, me.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Why the Military Commissions Act Trumps All Other Issues

Some Democrats are having a hard time understanding why I, a 24th district Democrat, am opposing both the campaign of Democratic congressional candidate Michael Arcuri and the campaign of Republican candidate Ray Meier.

Although I disagree with Michael Arcuri on many issues, and am generally concerned with Michael Arcuri's arrogant attitude toward voters, my oppositon to Mike Arcuri is ultimately based on one issue: The decision by Michael Arcuri to support George W. Bush's Military Commissions Act.

The Military Commssions Act is more important than any other issue in this campaign, because the Military Commissions Act is a grave threat to America's Democracy. The Military Commissions Act gives the power to imprison people without any official legal recognition of their imprisoned status - because the act takes away habeas corpus protections. The Military Commissions Act also sets up outrageously unfair standards for criminal conviction (including the ability to start a trial before a full investigation of the alleged crime has even been committed).

In practice, the Military Commissions Act will give the President of the United States the powers of a dictator. When the President of the United States can imprison people just because he says that they've committed crimes, Americans are no longer free to speak out against the President without fear of being thrown into prison for doing so.

Maybe the President will use this new power, and maybe he won't. The trouble with the Military Commissions Act is that we'll never know if the President is using his new power - because the law also allows for the imprisonments, torture, and convictions according to new low standards of justice to remain secret from the American people forever. Once this new law goes into effect, we will never know when the President is using his new powers. People could start disappearing into the secret prisons run by the President without us ever finding out about it.

This makes the Military Commissions Act a more important issue than any other - more important than the Iraq War, more important than the environment, and more important than a woman's right to choose. The reason is that with the Military Commissions Act, we will have no assurance of an ability to freely counter the President on any of these issues. Without the ability to exercise free dissent, all issues are at risk.

To promote Democratic issues, we first have to have the freedom to do so without fear of punishment for our dissent from the Republican position. The Military Commissions Act makes it possible for the Republican government to punish us for dissent. Therefore, the Military Commissions Act must take priority over all other issues.

Michael Arcuri either doesn't understand this, or he doesn't care. Michael Arcuri's support for the Military Commissions Act is a mistake of the highest order. To preserve our right to dissent, we need Democrats to stand united against the Military Commissions Act. For that reason, we need to oppose Democrats like Michael Arcuri who defect from the Democratic Party mainstream and support the Military Commissions Act.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Michael Arcuri Wants To Make Beatings Legal

Democrats, how far are you willing to go in supporting Michael Arcuri?

How about this far:

"One such story Bo told involved him taking a detainee by the head and hitting the detainee's head into the cell door. Bo said that his actions were known by others."

"From the whole conversation, I understood that striking detainees was a common practice. Everyone in the group laughed at the others' stories of beating detainees."

These statements are from a legal affadavit signed by a member of the United States Marine Corps. That Marine alleges that she sat among a group of guards from the American gulag at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and listened to them brag about how they abused prisoners there.

Michael Arcuri says that this kind of treatment of prisoners should be legal.

Are you with him on that, Democrats?

The Military Commissions Act legalizes the beating of prisoners. The new law allows the use of extreme pain against prisoners, so long as it doesn't threaten to kill them. The new law also prevents any prisoners of war from gaining protection under the Geneva Conventions, which explicitly forbid this sort of thing. Until the Military Commissions Act came along, the Geneva Conventions held the power of United States law. Now, they might as well exist.

Until last week, this group of guards would have been considered war criminals. Now, the Military Commissions Act gives them retroactive amnesty from prosecution. As soon as the President of the United States signs the Military Commissions Act into law, the guards will be legally untouchable, and that means that, in Guantanamo Bay, anything goes.

Is that what we want for America?

Michael Arcuri says it's what he wants.

Will you give it your endorsement by casting your vote for Arcuri?

Michael Arcuri: A DA who supports the MCA - scary

Over in Oneida County, Michael Arcuri is in the awkward position of having the NAACP being so angry that it has withheld its support for his congressional campaign. In large part, the NAACP's opposition to the Arcuri for Congress campaign has to do with many allegations of police brutality and a lack of fair trials under Michael Arcuri's watch as Oneida County District Attorney.

Now, I'm not a resident of Oneida County, so I don't know what the truth is about these allegations. I can talk about the perception of this problem, however - and when Michael Arcuri decided to declare his support for George W. Bush's pro-torture, anti-freedom Military Commissions Act, boy did Mike Arcuri make the perception of this problem worse.

Put two and two together, now. As District Attorney, Michael Arcuri has been accused of using unfair and dishonest tactics to get people convicted. Michael Arcuri has also been blamed for excessive brutality in several arrests.

How do you think it looks, now that Michael Arcuri has endorsed a new law that legalizes torture as a tool for law enforcement interrogations? How do you think it looks, now that Michael Arcuri has endorsed a new law that destroys the constitutional standards that ensure a fair trial?

I don't know if the accusations against Michael Arcuri are accurate, but I do know this: Michael Arcuri's support for George W. Bush's Military Commissions Act makes these accusations against Arcuri a bit more credible.

By supporting the Military Commissions Act, Michael Arcuri proved that he's the kind of guy who thinks that torturing criminal suspects and interfering with the procedures that guarantee a fair trial is a good idea.

Think about this, Oneida County. Is that really the kind of guy you want serving as your District Attorney? Is that the kind of guy that should have the responsibility of prosecuting you if you're accused of a crime?

Trust Michael Arcuri to do the right thing? No, I don't think so.

Friday, October 06, 2006

How Many Arcuri Democrats Turned Out For Protests Yesterday?

There were protests against Bush and the Republican agenda across the nation yesterday. I went to a demonstration where I'm working - in Chicago.

So, I'm just curious...

All you Democrats who say that you don't like how Michael Arcuri has joined forces with George W. Bush to support the pro-torture anti-freedom Military Commissions Act, did any of you bother to attend one of the gatherings?

Have you actually done anything to speak out against the new low standards for liberty and justice in America?

Arcuri Supporters Should Thank Me

Democrats who still support Michael Arcuri, in spite of Arcuri's move away from the mainstream of the Democratic Party to embrace George W. Bush and the Republican agenda of torture, unrestrained presidential power, and the disintegration of the Bill of Rights, say that Arcuri had no choice but to support the Military Commissions Act.

These Democrats say that Michael Arcuri had to support the Military Commissions Act because the voters of the 24th congressional district like the law. They say that voters here appreciate the legalization of torture, the end to enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, the withdrawal of habeas corpus rights, and the institution of the power of arbitrary imprisonment by the President of the United States.

Well, if that's really true, then why are these Arcuri supporters so angry with me for pointing out that Michael Arcuri supports these measures.

If the voters of the 24th congressional district really support these attacks on America's freedoms, then Arcuri supporters ought to be coming here to thank me. After all, if they're right about our district's voters, then every time I write the truth that Michael Arcuri supports torture, I should be winning him more voters and helping his campaign.

Yet, Michael Arcuri's Democratic supporters aren't thanking me. They're coming here and telling me time after time that I'm making Michael Arcuri look bad by pointing out that he is on the record supporting revoking habeas corpus, legalizing torture, and abandoning the Geneva Conventions.

The way they write, you'd think that these positions are liabilities for Michael Arcuri. Why, you might even suspect that these Arcuri Democrats actually believe that 24th district voters are upset at Mike Arcuri for supporting George W. Bush and the Military Commissions Act.

Will these Arcuri Democrats please make up their minds? Either the people love the Military Commissions Act and I'm helping the Arcuri campaign, or the people hate the Military Commissions Act and I'm doing the Arcuri campaign great harm.

So which is it, Arcuri supporters?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

24th District Democrats Accept The Rove Frame

I feel foolish about it, but I'm surprised at the reaction of other 24th District Democrats to the news that Michael Arcuri supports the Bush Administration's grab for dictatorial power through the Military Commissions Act. That reaction: If the Democratic candidate supports it, don't criticize him for it.

What are we working for, anyway? Just to get our team in power, no matter what it takes to do so?

The hunger to win this election has twisted the identity of the 24th District Democrats into something downright ugly. The 24th District Democrats have now accepted the ideological frame of Karl Rove.

In this new way of Democratic thinking, defending America's fundamental freedom takes a back seat. The Geneva Conventions aren't so important any more. Neither are habeas corpus, the separation of powers, and the Bill of Rights. Most Democrats now seem to believe that these things can be sacrificed, so long as it helps a Democratic politician win election.

It appears that I'm in the minority in the Democratic Party on this issue. I think that sacrificing American liberty in order to help politicians get elected is unacceptable. I'm different that way, I guess, in having limits beyond which I'm not willing to go.

Oh, I'm not saying that the Democrats who continue to support Michael Arcuri like torture, or that they don't care about the Bill of Rights or habeas corpus. I'm just saying that they've made plain that they're willing to go along with the sacrifice of these things, in the pursuit of electoral victory.

I didn't think that Democrats were like that. What a terrible way to find out that I was wrong.

The sad thing is that these Democrats will complain on and on and about George W. Bush and Karl Rove, even though, all the while, they've accepted the Bush/Rove frame. They have accepted the idea that voters will reject a political candidate unless the candidate embraces a totalitarian security agenda. They have accepted the idea that Americans will respond more strongly to fear than hope and an appeal to fairness. They have also accepted the idea that ideas and values matter less than winning. That's pure Rove.

We didn't get a primary this year, so it's in the congressional general election that we will have to make a statement about what we want the Democratic Party to be. We'll see, the morning after Election Day, whether Democratic voters are in it for the team, or are motivated by the idea that America can still be as it has been promised to us.

Continued Support for Mike Arcuri is Irrational

I understand that it's difficult for Democrats to not vote for a Democrat in times like these. Many Democrats feel that "they" have been out of power for too long, and they yearn to see someone from "their" team representing them in government. I understand. I've felt that way for years.

But, is Michael Arcuri really on your team? Are you willing to say that you're part of the team to legalize torture, to revoke habeas corpus, to end enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, to give amnesty to war criminals, and to allow the President of the United States to imprison anyone he wants?

Many Democrats rationalize their continued support for Michael Arcuri by saying that, once Arcuri is elected, he will return to the mainstream of the Democratic Party, and will end his support for President Bush and the Republican agenda.

I know it's hard to give up hope on Michael Arcuri, but hopes like these are irrational. The difficult truth is that, in the House of Representatives, the campaigning never stops. As soon as one election is over, members of the House begin positioning themselves for the next election, two years later.

So, if you say that it's an intelligent campaign move for Michael Arcuri to help the President of the United States and the Republican Party to dismantle the Bill of Rights, and you vote for him with that excuse in hand, get ready. Get ready, because you will have taught Mike Arcuri a bad lesson - that to win elections, he needs to cave in to the Republicans.

This won't be the last time Arcuri betrays your values. He'll do it over and over again, secure in the belief that you would never ever vote against him. He'll take you for granted, while he sets his sights on winning the affection of Republican voters.

If Arcuri is willing to sacrifice habeas corpus to get elected this time, what will he sacrifice next time? The right to a free press?

If you don't think there will be a next time, you're fooling yourself. Democrats who keep on supporting Michael Arcuri in spite of his betrayal of us are like women who stay with men who hit them. They make excuses, and say that it was just a one-time thing. No matter how many times they're hit, they say it was justified.

Allow Michael Arcuri to strike out and break your freedom now, and it won't be the last time. Your rational mind knows this to be true. Emotionally, you've built up a connection with the Arcuri for Congress campaign. That's understandable, but you have to have the moral strength to end this dysfunctional relationship.

Women who have children with violent husbands have a moral obligation to their children to leave their husbands, because it isn't just the women who get hit. The kids get hit too.

It's the same thing with Michael Arcuri. Maybe you're willing to give up your freedom. Maybe you're willing to risk it that you won't yourself be greeted at the door by Homeland Security agents ready to take you off to one of Bush's gulags on a trumped up charge.

If that's true, you need to stop thinking about yourself. You need to start thinking about the people who are more vulnerable than you. It's not just your freedom that has been taken away. You need to start thinking about others who, though innocent of any crime, will suffer the extreme consequences of the Military Commissions Act.

We already know of innocent people who have been picked up in the United States, flown off to prisons in undisclosed locations overseas, and tortured. These people never lifted a hand against the United States of America. Michael Arcuri supports the continuation of the program that abused these people.

If you support Michael Arcuri in this election, you're supporting that program too.

A Democrat came here last night and suggested that it's okay for Michael Arcuri to support this program of arbitrary imprisonment and torture, because it's what's needed to get elected.

What will be needed next time?

Getting a Democrat elected is not worth it. I am a Democrat, but I vote for freedom first.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Will Michael Arcuri admit that he was wrong?

Many 24th district Democrats are starting to fret that I am openly denouncing Michael Arcuri's candidacy. Tonight, one wrote in with the complaint that my little blog here is giving the Republicans the victory that they want.

Well, that's flattering, but realistically, that's not how it works. It's the voters that will deliver the election to one candidate or another. I'm just giving out information to the voters. Lately, that information is damning to Michael Arcuri, but is that my fault?

I'm not a party hack. I'm nobody's shill. Nobody pays me to write this blog, and I'm not about to give up my independent voice to serve someone else's agenda. I set up this blog to promote the ideals that I think ought to be represented in the House of Representatives. I value those ideals over any political party, and over any political candidate.

I'm willing to be somewhat pragmatic, which is why I supported the candidacy of Michael Arcuri until last week. Michael Arcuri takes many wrong stands, and some right stands. He's a lousy campaigner, and he's an arrogant politician who takes pains to restrict communication with his constituents. On the other hand, a Democratic majority is important.

However, as I see it, the Military Commissions Act trumps everything else. The Military Commissions Act, HR 6166, is so devastating to the foundations of American democracy that I feel morally obligated to oppose any politician who supports it.

The Military Commissions Act legalizes torture, ends enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, allows war criminals to walk free, allows the President to round up and imprison people in secret merely by naming them "enemy", revokes habeas corpus in defiance of the clear standards of the Constitution, and establishes a new system of courts with rules so overwhelmingly slanted against the accused that anyone could be convicted of anything - and put to death - even without evidence of guilt.

This is not just wrong. It is a threat to our very civilization. It is not an issue that I will compromise. I will oppose any politician who supports the Military Commissions Act. Period. No exceptions.

Now, if Michael Arcuri's campaign is feeling the heat and is threatened by this stand that I take, then it's up to Michael Arcuri to do the right thing. Every Democrat who comes to read this blog knows that Michael Arcuri did the wrong thing when he gave his support to the Republican Military Commissions Act.

If Mike Arcuri wants me to lay off, then all he has to do is what he should do anyway. All Michael Arcuri has to do is admit that he made a mistake when he endorsed the Military Commissions Act.

Just a little mea culpa, Mr. Arcuri, and then I'll lay off your campaign and I'll start pounding away at Ray Meier. It's that easy.

You know Michael Arcuri made a mistake. I know Michael Arcuri made a mistake. Now, will Michael Arcuri admit that he made a mistake?

It's his choice, not mine.

No One Says Michael Arcuri Is A Great Choice Anymore

I've noticed something remarkable about Democratic supporters of Michael Arcuri over the last week. Ever since Michael Arcuri decided to abandon the mainstream of the Democratic Party and join forces with George W. Bush to promote HR 6166, the Military Commissions Act, Arcuri supporters have stopped being Arcuri supporters. They have become Arcuri apologists.

It's no wonder, when you think about it. Here Mike Arcuri is, telling Democrats that he would vote for a bill that legalizes torture, revokes habeas corpus, gives the President the power to imprison anyone without criminal charges, provides amnesty to war criminals, and replaces the right to a fair trial with secret courts that can convict people of crimes and sentence them to death even before a proper investigation of the alleged crime is taking place (I'm not kidding - it's in the law that Arcuri supports. READ IT.)

Even longtime cheerleaders of Michael Arcuri have stopped coming to this blog to say what a great choice Arcuri is. They used to say that if we just got to know Michael Arcuri, we'd want him representing us in Congress. They used to say that Mike Arcuri was a brilliant politician. They don't say that any more.

Now all these last few dogged Arcuri loyalists have to say in Michael Arcuri's defense is that, although Michael Arcuri is a bad choice for Congress, Ray Meier is worse. I don't hear anyone pretending anymore that Arcuri is the best candidate the Democrats could have had this year.

The Arcuri for Congress campaign knows that it's in trouble over its allegiance with George W. Bush and the Republican Party to support the new pro-torture law. Maimun Khan, who works on the Arcuri campaign, has released a half-hearted attempt to explain why it's really not so bad that habeas corpus has been revoked, and that Bush can arbitrarily throw people in prison without a trial, and that people can now legally be tortured even within the United States. I have sympathy for her. It must feel terrible to have to defend a Democrat for supporting what the New York Times calls a low point in our democracy, "our generation's version of the Alien and Sedition Acts".

Even old Bob Hyde, who stopped blogging in favor of Michael Arcuri a long time ago, stirred himself for a couple of days to try to write about how bad the Republicans, including Ray Meier, are. But Hyde can't seem to bring himself to praise Michael Arcuri.

The Arcuri for Congress campaign is reacting in typical fashion, by becoming even more defensive and secretive, trying to cut back on opportunities for Democratic voters to interact with the campaign. They even took down the link on the Arcuri for Congress web site to MoveOn's online endorsement contest. Apparently, Michael Arcuri is afraid that web site visitors might start going there to vote for Ray Meier instead of for him.

Anyone can see that it was a colossal blunder for Arcuri to support the infamous Military Commissions Act without bothering to read it first. However, it seems that Michael Arcuri just can't admit that he was wrong.

There's been nothing on the Arcuri for Congress web site about this issue. Instead, what's the news we get out of the Arcuri campaign? Michael Arcuri's "breaking news" is that uncut sheets of the Arcuri for Congress trading cards are now available.

Does that make up for Arcuri's support for George W. Bush's failed agenda?

I don't think even Michael Arcuri's last dogged defenders could say such a thing.

We Democrats deserve better than this.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Did Michael Arcuri Support the Iraq War or Not?

An entire election season has come and gone, and throughout it all, Michael Arcuri has refused to answer this basic question:

Did you support the Iraq War when it began in 2003?

There is no absolute evidence either way, but the clues are all there to suggest that, in fact, Michael Arcuri did support the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

There is, for one thing, no proof that Michael Arcuri did anything to try to convince Sherwood Boehlert to vote against the legislation authorizing the start of the Iraq War.

There is also the curiously consistent argument used by Mike Arcuri's defenders that, as a District Attorney, Arcuri could not have done anything in public to oppose the war. That's an absurd argument, given that as Attorney General of all of New York State, Eliot Spitzer took a public stand on the war.

Then there's the fact that Michael Arcuri calls himself "a Boehlert Democrat". Sherwood Boehlert voted for the war. So, when Arcuri embraces Boehlert's positions, he's embracing support for the Iraq War too. What is a Boehlert Democrat, if not a Democrat who thought that going to war in Iraq would be a great idea?

It seems that Michael Arcuri only started to criticize the Iraq War recently, when it became the popular thing to do.

This isn't just Monday morning quarterbacking, dwelling on the past. The positions that politicians took on starting the Iraq War are a good indication of what they would do in similar situations in the future. Given another reckless rush to war, we have every reason to believe that Mike Arcuri would jump on the pro-war bandwagon.

Michael Arcuri is a moral jellyfish, drifting to whatever positions the prevailing political currents take him. Instead of moving for himself, Arcuri takes the easy way out, and just hangs out with all the other flotsam. He doesn't even hope to be a leader. Arcuri's greatest policy ambition is to blend in with the water all around him, so that no one can see how little substance he actually has.

We Democrats deserved to have a candidate with a spine, not a moral invertebrate like Michael Arcuri. We got no primary, of course, because local party bosses didn't want to give Democratic voters a say. The result? We're left with the quivering mass of slipperiness that is Michael Arcuri.

In 2008, let's support the candidate that we don't feel that we have to apologize for.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Michael Arcuri Supported Torture Law Without Reading It

More news on Michael Arcuri's decision to abandon the Democratic Party mainstream and join George W. Bush and the Republicans on HR 6166:

Yesterday, Mike Arcuri admitted to an audience of Democrats that he didn't bother to read the pro-torture law before he announced that he supports it.

Yes, you're reading that correctly. Michael Arcuri told everybody last week that he supports HR 6166, the Republican law that will...

  • Revoke habeas corpus
  • Legalize torture
  • Allow George W. Bush to declare anyone an "enemy" and then throw those people into prison for the rest of their lives, without ever charging them with any criminal charge
  • Set up kangaroo courts in which trials can begin even before an investigation into the alleged crime has been conducted...

    ... but when Michael Arcuri made that announcement at last week's debate, he hadn't even bothered to read the bill!

    What's more, a week has gone by now since the text of the legislation was available, and Michael Arcuri still hasn't read it!

    You want a congressman who doesn't bother reading a law before he votes on it? Then Michael Arcuri is your man.

    Michael Arcuri came to that meeting and promised that he would not be a rubber stamp for George W. Bush. But what's the reality?

    The reality is that Michael Arcuri was told to support HR 6166, and he did what he was told, without asking questions, without reading what he was being asked to sign onto.

    That's the definition of a rubber stamp.

    The worst thing of all: If elected to Congress, Michael Arcuri won't be a rubber stamp for the Democrats. Michael Arcuri will be a rubber stamp for George W. Bush and the Republican Party.

    Why doesn't Michael Arcuri just cut to the chase and switch his party affiliation to Republican now, and be honest about it?
  • Michael Arcuri Denies Press Requests For Interviews

    What we saw of Michael Arcuri today in interview was high in sound bites, but frighteningly low in details. It was more of the rule than the exception for Michael Arcuri to not really know much about the subjects he was asked about.

    The word has gotten around that Michael Arcuri is trying to speak as little in public in possible because he's afraid that his ignorance will cause embarassing gaffes.

    That would explain why Mike Arcuri has, for so long, ignored attempts by the press to help give him coverage through interviews.

    Take Eric Kuhn, for example. Eric Kuhn interviews plenty of politicians for the radio, like Eliot Spitzer and Cindy Sheehan. Michael Arcuri could have gotten plenty of attention for his campaign with an Eric Kuhn interview, but he has refused to sit for an interview.

    Here's what the Eric Kuhn web site has to say about Michael Arcuri:

    'Kuhn and Company' strongly believes in giving both sides a chance to come onto the show. We have used numerous channels to bring Democrat Michael A. Arcuri on, but he has denied all requests thus far.

    Incompetent, lazy, campaigning. That's what we Democrats in New York's 24th congressional district got as a reward for not putting Michael Arcuri through a primary contest.

    Note for 2008: Let's have a primary, and let the Democratic voters decide who should represent them. The County Democratic Committees seem not to be able to make a competent choice.

    Sunday, October 01, 2006

    Michael Arcuri Reaffirms He Supports Torture Law

    I just came back home from a meeting of the Ulysses Democratic Committee, not even a quarter mile away from my home. Even I, who have been covering this campaign all year, have trouble believing the duplicity of the Michael Arcuri for Congress campaign.

    There Michael Arcuri stood in the kitchen of some of my neighbors, and talked about how important it is to elect himself to Congress so that we can defend liberty from George W. Bush. He even uttered the words "habeas corpus".

    But, just a few minutes earlier, when he was asked by Ulysses Democrats if he indeed supported HR 6166, he said yes, because it's important to protect American soldiers. HR 6166, which will signed into law by the President of the United States any day now, does the following:

    1. Revokes habeas corpus
    2. Allows torture to create "extreme pain", and even the use of sex as a form of torture
    3. Allows the President of the United States to declare any person to be an enemy, and thereby to take away every one of that person's rights
    4. Allows the President to throw people into jail for the rest of their lives without charging them with a crime
    5. To set up kangaroo courts in which
    a- defendants do not have the right to see the evidence against them
    b- neither defendants nor their representatives cannot cross examine people who testify against them
    c- defendants can be banished from the courtroom at any moment, even if they do not disrupt the proceedings
    d- the trial can begin BEFORE an investigation into the alleged crime takes place
    e- evidence that is the product of torture and other forms of coercion is allowed
    f- defendants have no 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination
    g- defendants do not even have to be told the nature of the crimes of which they are accused
    h- records of the trial can be kept secret from the American people forever

    Michael Arcuri reaffirmed at this very same meeting that he supports everything that you see above, yet he has the audacity to come into my village and tell people that he will defend liberty?

    Has he no shame?

    Michael Arcuri is either a scoundrel or an idiot. Quite likely he is both.

    Does Michael Arcuri Endorse The Use of Rape?

    "The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture."
    - New York Times, September 28, 2006

    The bill that the New York times is talking about here is the bill that Michael Arcuri supports.

    Consider that.

    I think Mike Arcuri should explain to us all why he supports a bill that eliminates the idea that rape of prisoners of war is a form of torture.

    I also want to hear from all the Democrats here in New York's 24th congressional district who say that we ought to overlook this issue.

    I want to hear from those Democrats why we should vote for a man who says that using rape against prisoners of war is a good idea.

    By endorsing HR 6166, Michael Arcuri endorsed the use of rape. That's not just something I made up. That's the judgment of the editors of the New York Times.

    Come on. Tell me why it's okay to vote for the pro-rape candidate.

    Republicans can join in on this one too, because Ray Meier supports the torture-by-rape law too.

    When will you allow your political party loyalty to give way to your sense of shame?

    Is Mike Arcuri's Failure on HR 6166 Just One Issue?

    In a comment to an earlier article, a reader asked how I could oppose the candidacy of Michael Arcuri just because of "one little issue".

    That so-called "one little issue" is Mike Arcuri's support for HR 6166, the law that gives President Bush the powers of a dictator.

    Is that just one little issue?

    Well, it certainly isn't little.

    The impact of HR 6166 is worse than McCarthyism, because instead of happening in a committee hearing that's open to the public, it all goes on behind the scenes, in secret, where there is no chance to bring it under control. This law represents an unprecedented threat to our democracy. Think on the scale of Jim Crow, on the scale of slavery, and you'll get a good idea of the huge size of the problem. America will have to work for a generation to overcome the impact of this one law - if we ever overcome it at all.

    It isn't one issue either.

    The danger of HR 6166 is that it deals with so many issues at one time. It's a comprehensive bill that attacks American liberty in a huge number of ways, making it impossible for America's traditional standards of decency and fairness in the legal process to withstand the onslaught.

    The following are just some of the many serious issues related to Michael Arcuri's support for HR 6166.

  • Establishing kangaroo courts
  • Allegations of Michael Arcuri's disregard for civil rights as District Attorney
  • Torture
  • Revoking habeas corpus
  • Scapegoating foreigners
  • Secret CIA prisons
  • War Crimes
  • The integrity of Internet communications
  • The Bill of Rights
  • Conviction and punishment without any trial
  • The future of freedom in America
  • Voting against the will of the majority of Democratic voters, and the majority of Democrats in Congress
  • Privacy in our own homes
  • Legal amnesty for war criminals
  • A Democratic politician supporting George W. Bush
  • Rape of prisoners
  • Bringing the suspicion of dishonor to American soldiers (you know, the "troops")
  • The Iraq War
  • America's tarnished reputation in the world
  • Michael Arcuri's servitude to the DCCC
  • The equation of dissent with terrorism
  • Imprisonment without any trial at all
  • An end to the presumption of innocence
  • Unrestrained presidential power

    By supporting HR 6166, Michael Arcuri has put himself on the wrong side of all these issues... and more.

    One little issue? Not by half.