Monday, April 23, 2007

Michael Arcuri Relents On Military Commissions Act

There's great news for the people of New York's 24th congressional district this week. Mike Arcuri, who is in his first months of representing us in the U.S. House, has relented on the Military Commissions Act.

It was a great disappointment to many people here last year when, as a candidate, Michael Arcuri said that he thought the Military Commissions Act was a great idea, and that if he were in Congress, he would have voted for it. The Military Commissions Act represents the kind of abuse of power that the Democratic Party is supposed to stand against.

  • It revoked the protection of habeas corpus.
  • It ended enforcement of the Geneva Conventions.
  • It legalized torture.
  • It replaced the authority of ordinary American courts with a new system of kangaroo courts with outrageously low standards of justice, and trials conducted in secret
  • It replaced the presumption of innocence with the presumption of guilt
  • It gave the President of the United States the power to arbitrarily imprison someone without trial, stripping people of their rights through the declaration of their status as "enemy"

    The problem was that when he said he approved of the Military Commissions Act, candidate Michael Arcuri and his campaign staff had not bothered to actually read the legislation. They didn't know what a terrible thing they were supporting.

    Since Arcuri has become a member of Congress, however, he has been persuaded to consider the actual contact of the Military Commissions Act. Looking at the facts of what the Military Commissions Act does, it appears that Congressman Arcuri has come to the reasonable conclusion that the Military Commissions Act's assaults on the foundations of American freedom are unacceptable.

    Michael Arcuri has added his co-sponsorship to H.R. 1415, the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007. This new legislation comes the closest of any legislation in the House of Representatives to repealing the Military Commissions Act. It was originally sponsored by veteran congressman from New York State Jerrold Nadler, though it is essentially the same bill that was written for the Senate by Christopher Dodd, who is also running for the Democratic nominaton for President in 2008 on the basis of his opposition to the Military Commissions Act.

    If only it didn't take so long for Arcuri to be persuaded to reverse his position, some good might have been done. However, Congressman Arcuri seems only willing to take a principled stand when it isn't election time.
  • Monday, March 19, 2007

    Michael Arcuri Disagrees With Surge. Now What?

    Readers of yore know that I am suspicious when it comes to Congressman Michael Arcuri. Representative Arcuri is the kind of Democrat who leans toward being a Republican a lot of the time. He has, as a former District Attorney, a record of pushing a law and order attitude that sometimes fails to recognize people's legal rights. Arcuri's support of the Military Commissions Act is a form of this attitude writ large.

    Still, there are some areas in which Mike Arcuri could be redeemed. On the matter of Iraq, for example, Congressman Arcuri seems yet to have formed a coherent position. During the campaign last year, Arcuri fumbled and fudged, and avoided giving specifics beyond such vague promises as "benchmarks".

    As last week's change of heart on the House legislation to set an end date for the war in Iraq shows, we can influence Arcuri. The change of heart came after calls from constituents who requested that Arcuri take a firm stand.

    Michael Arcuri certainly did the right thing in February, when he voted for the non-binding resolution disagreeing with George W. Bush's plan for an escalation in Iraq - a plan which has failed, as this weekend's carnage illustrates. However, that was just a non-binding resolution, expressing an opinion.

    The campaign is over. It's no longer time to just say what you would do, if elected, or what opinion you have about what the President is doing. It's time for clear action.

    Supporting this month's legislation with a specific end date for the war in Iraq is a good start, but with the Senate's failure to pass equivalent legislation, more action will be needed.

    Let's keep an eye on Congressman Arcuri, and watch how he votes.

    Friday, March 16, 2007

    Mike Arcuri Relents on Iraq

    The antiwar majority of New York State's 24th congressional district can be proud of itself this morning. As a result of pressure from our district's voters, Michael Arcuri has changed his position on the legislation to end the war in Iraq.

    At first, Congressman Arcuri was standing firm with the rest of his right wing caucus of Blue Dog Democrats. Once Arcuri's pro-war position became known, however, his offices began to receive telephone calls questioning his judgment.

    Now, Mike Arcuri has promised to vote in favor of the resolution to end the war.

    If you called Arcuri's offices, good for you.

    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    Michael Arcuri Wavers on Iraq

    It was an email from MoveOn that got me back to writing this blog.

    It seems that Michael Arcuri is considering whether he will side with the Republicans, against the Democrats, on the resolution to end the Iraq War. No kidding.

    From the MoveOn message:
    "Dick Cheney and his allies in Congress are on an all-out assault—saying that Democrats are "undermining the troops" by trying to end the war.1 And some Democrats are wavering.

    Can you call Rep. Arcuri and tell him that you want our troops home safely this year? They won't vote until next week so we still have time to affect the final plan and your call could make all the difference.

    Congressman Michael Arcuri
    Phone: 202-225-3665"

    "Some representatives are afraid. They're nervous about taking any measures to end the war. It's a political calculation—they don't want to "own" the war, they want it to be Bush's problem. That's a failure of leadership: How do you tell our troops that they're being asked to fight and die because Democrats don't want to "own" the war?"

    Could this be the same Michael Arcuri who used the aw shucks story about talking to his son about ending the war in Iraq while campaigning last year? Yup, same guy. Apparently, Arcuri is having a very different conversation with his son now: A conversation about flip-flopping.

    I wonder, how do the Utica Democrats feel now about putting this guy in Congress?

    If you're a Democrat who voted for Michael Arcuri, give his office a phone call at 202-225-3665, and remind him what he was elected to do.