Thursday, September 03, 2009

Tompkins County Green Party Meeting Tonight

In terms of surface area, most of Tompkins County is in the 24th congressional district. So, it's worth noting that, tonight at the Tompkins County Public Library in Ithaca, in the Borg Warner Room from 6:15 til 8:15, the Tompkins County Green Party will be having its monthly meeting.

On the agenda:

- Candidates update
- State committee delegates news
- Antiwar activism
- GLBT activism
- Student outreach
- Voter registration

If you're a registered Tompkins County Green, or are interested in becoming one, you're welcome to attend.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Michael Arcuri is a PAC Pet

Just who does U.S. Representative Michael Arcuri owe his allegiance to? The fundraising statistics for Acuri's 2010 re-election campaign so far don't look good for those of us who live in his district.

Congressman Arcuri has raised $101,555 in campaign donations from individuals so far. That may sound like a lot of money, but it's much, much smaller than the amount Arcuri has received from political action committees.

Mike Arcuri has taken $344,170 from PACs in order to fund his 2010 campaign - well over three times the amount he's gotten from individuals. The Arcuri for Congress campaign in 2010 looks to be a top-down enterprise, backed by insider interests, not the people Arcuri is supposed to represent.

mike arcuri PAC fundraising 2010

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tompkins County Green Party Re-Energizes

The Democrats of New York's 24th congressional district are facing the birth of a new political reality that ought to alter their calculations of their party's conceptual positioning. The question is whether they realize it's the case.

The new reality is the alienation of the political left. At the height of Democratic victory, progressives are realizing that the Democratic Party has never intended to speak to their interests. All the promises of liberal reform from the last eight years are being exposed as crass manipulation used to bring the Democrats back into the centers of power.

The Blue Dog Coalition, of which Michael Arcuri is an enthusiastic member, represents the sort of Republican-lite ideology which is alienating increasing numbers of Democratic voters. The Republicans themselves cannot gain the attention of these disenchanted voters, given the way that the Republicans have abused the public's trust so conspicuously, for so long.

So, who can step into this breach, to take advantage of this political moment? In the 24th District, the Green Party may be doing so.

This week, sensing the opportunity created by the Democrats' disappointment, the Green Party of Tompkins County has re-organized, electing new officers and endorsing two candidates for local office in 2009. Most of Tompkins County is in Mike Arcuri's congressional district.

Will the Green Party challenge Arcuri from the left in 2010? Wait and see...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Arcuri Opposes Solid Science For Mustang Management

I cannot for the life of me understand why Congressman Michael Arcuri has voted against H. R. 1018, the Restore Our American Mustangs Act.

It can't be for the sake of fiscal responsibility. The fiscally responsible way to manage government programs, after all, is to conduct rigorous scientific studies, so that government spending can be applied in the most efficient way possible.

That's just what the Restore Our American Mustangs Act will do when it becomes law. Yet, Mike Arcuri voted against it.

Representative Arcuri voted against a scientific analysis to determine the most efficient method for managing America's wild horse populations. Instead, Arcuri voted to preserve the current system: Round up a bunch of mustangs, keep them in corrals for a while, and then shoot them in the head.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tompkins County Green Party Meeting This Tuesday!

The Tompkins County Green Party will be meeting this coming Tuesday, July 21 at 7:00 PM in Stewart Park in Ithaca, near the large pavilion. It's a great place for a green political meeting, given the beautiful outdoor location, and the availability of playground equipment for those Greens who might want to bring their kids.

All registered Green Party voters from Tompkins County are encouraged to attend. Those who are interested in re-registering Green are welcome as well.

The Tompkins Greens will be electing officers and setting an agenda for the coming year, which includes supporting local candidates for public office. Could it also include a Green Party challenge to Congressman Michael Arcuri in 2010?

Geographically, about 80 percent of Tompkins County is in Mike Arcuri's congressional district. Watch your left, Congressman Arcuri. Watch your left.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Mike Arcuri Helps The Rich, Votes Against The Rest

Congressman Mike Arcuri talks a lot about working to help ordinary working people in our district, but talk is easy. What's the truth about the Arcuri record? The sad truth about Representative Arcuri's true priorities is shown in terms of how he dealt with two different pieces of economic legislation.

The first piece of legislation helps everyday homeowners who work for a living. H.R. 1106, The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, has been passed by the House, but not yet by the Senate. The bill, if it becomes law, will allow bankruptcy judges to work to restructure mortgage payments so that banks can continue to get money, and people can continue to stay in their homes. The fact is that rich people have had the power to make these very arrangements for mortgages on their vacation homes, and debts on their yachts, but ordinary working Americans aren't allowed the same opportunity.

Michael Arcuri voted against the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act. Arcuri told middle class homeowners that, in the middle of a deepening economic recession, he won't give them any help.

Congressman Arcuri has a very different standard for the wealthy. A few weeks ago, Arcuri himself wrote a bill to help out wealthy investors. H. R. 2798, the Support Investment Protection for Customers Reform Act of 2009, authorizes the government to provide an extra one and a half billion dollars to wealthy investors through the Securities Investor Protection Corporation.

If you're a rich investor who's lost a some money because of the recession, Congressman Arcuri will not only cosponsor a bill for you and vote for it, he'll actually write the legislation to serve your needs. If you're an average working homeowner hit by hard economic times, Michael Arcuri won't write the bill to help you out. He won't cosponsors a bill to help you out. He won't even cast a vote for you.

Why should the homeowners of New York's 24th congressional district support the re-election of Congressman Arcuri in 2010, when he won't support them?

Friday, July 03, 2009

Mike Arcuri Orwellian About Big Oil

Representative Michael Arcuri has become a master of doublespeak, and on no issue is Arcuri's Orwellian approach more evident than with the environment. Arcuri calls himself a friend of the environment, but he just voted against taking action to deal with the costly consequences of climate change. He helped Big Oil, promoting the same old dirty energy track that America took during the disastrous years of Bush and Cheney.

Arcuri's services to Big Oil are nothing new. During the previous session in Congress, Arcuri voted to help out Big Oil too, but when campaign season came along, he described himself as a brave crusader standing up against the fossil fuel giants. One of his campaign advertisements last year announced,

"For too long, big oil special interests have blocked any efforts to reduce our dependence on oil. I'm Michael Arcuri. My priority's helping middle class families, not big oil companies.... I fought to expand domestic drilling, so we can bring down these gas prices. I'm Mike Arcuri and I approve this message because you sent me to Washington to get something done for a change."

Helping middle class families? By expanding offshore oil drilling? That's not fighting Big Oil - it's exactly what Big Oil wanted.

What's Congressman Arcuri going to tell us next - that he's fighting against corrupt pharmaceutical corporations by working to keep generic drugs off the market? Michael Arcuri seems to think that his constituents can't tell when he's speaking out of both sides of his mouth. For our sake, I hope he's wrong.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Arcuri Won't Support Conyers Commission

A resident of the 24th district that I know, a sincere progressive, has voted for Michael Arcuri both in 2006 and 2008. He dislikes Representative Arcuri's Blue Dog right wing slant as much as I do, but he has kept on holding out hope that adding another vote to the Democratic majority in Congress will help to bring about progressive change even as Arcuri himself resists that change.

Back in 2006, he said to me, "Can you imagine John Conyers as chair of the House Judiciary Committee, with subpoena power? Do you realize what that could do to Bush?" Actually, it accomplished almost nothing. Conyers was hobbled by the Democratic leadership of the House.

In 2008, his argument shifted to, "Can you imagine what will happen with a stronger Democratic majority in the House, and a veto-proof majority?"

We've got that Congress he wanted now, and still, that progressive agenda is not being enacted. The problem: In its pursuit for power, the Democratic Party has morphed into a timid copy of the Republican Party. Some say that the Republican Party has lost power. What I see is that the Republicans have won, by convincing Democratic politicians to act like Republicans. Mike Arcuri is part of that trend.

Consider, for example, the Conyers bill that attempted to establish a national commission to investigate President Bush's use of war powers and abuses of civil liberties. Only about one-fifth of all the Democrats in Congress support that commission. The rest support sweeping all the Bush crimes under the rug - after all, the Democrats' leader, Barack Obama, is now engaged in the use of the same extreme war powers and abuses of civil liberties that the Conyers commission would investigate.

Guess where Congressman Arcuri stands on the commission. That's right, he's among the right wing Democrats who want all the problems to be swept under the rug.

It's time that we 24th district progressives admit that the Democrats are not what we hoped they would be. It's time for us to begin organizing a true progressive challenge to Arcuri, from a true progressive party - the Green Party.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Arcuri Votes Against Videotaped Interrogations

You'd have to have your head in the sand not to know that the widespread use of torture has wrecked the reputation of the United States of America. The story, which should have been over with departure of George W. Bush from the White House, has been unfortunately continued with Barack Obama's insistence that he will violate the Freedom of Information Act by concealing photographic evidence of torture. Obama's coverup is keeping America's torture in the news, proving that it's the coverup, as much as the torture itself, that damages America's position in the world.

Last week, Representative Rush Holt introduced a common sense amendment to this year's Defense appropriations bill. The amendment will, if it is included in the equivalent Senate legislation, require the military to videotape all its interrogations, excepting those tactical interrogations that take place on the battlefield and cannot be taped because of practical considerations.

This bill protects interrogators as much as it protects the prisoners being interrogated. It also ensures that the intelligence collected by the military will be accurate, protecting soldiers and government agents who will depend upon that intelligence in dangerous situations. It's for these reasons that, earlier this year, a military task force requested the policy of required videotaping of interrogations.

Yet, for Representative Mike Arcuri, that isn't good enough. Arcuri voted against the Holt Amendment, ignoring military advice and leaving interrogations in the dark ages of Bush and Cheney. Arcuri's vote was bad for American soldiers, and bad for the reputation of the USA.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mike Arcuri Has A Short Term Mind

On yet another issue, U.S. Representative Michael Arcuri has demonstrated an antiprogressive agenda this week. This time, the issue is climate change.

In 2008, people elected Democrats to Congress and the White House in large part because the Democrat promised a green energy revolution. They seemed so earnest, so honest. Yet, in 2009, we've learned that if you really want green energy, you're going to have to vote Green Party - at least in New York State's 24th district.

Yesterday Michael Arcuri voted to kill legislation promoting a green energy in order to fight global climate change, including global warming. Once again, Arcuri joined with the Republicans to support the kind of politics of pollution we saw under George W. Bush.

Why did Arcuri do it? Why did he vote with Big Oil, against the environment? Here's his excuse for opposing the legislation:

"In the short term it will have a negative effect on my district because of the high power costs."

This comment reveals why Mike Arcuri has come to be regarded as among the mental lightweights of the House of Representatives. In the short term, the bill will create higher power costs, but in the long term, it will actually lower costs. Trust Arcuri to ignore long term benefits in favor of short term thinking.

Besides that, what's the cost that this bill will actually create? According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the cost for the average American will be 48 cents per day. Low income Americans will actually gain economically from the legislation. These calculations don't even take into account the economic benefit from avoiding damage related to climate change, which is estimated in the billions per year already.

It seems that Arcuri is willing to let Planet Earth go to pot for the sake of 48 cents in short term savings. In 2010, let's make Michael Arcuri a short term member of Congress.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mike Arcuri Not Among Those Opposing Discrimination

Two days ago, H.R. 3017 was introduced to the House of Representatives by Congressman Barney Frank. The bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

This is a very important bill to the LGBT voters in the 24th congressional district. Living under the fear of being fired from a job, just because of the homophobia of your boss, is a terrible burden during economic troubles like those we're currently suffering under.

Yet, as with so many important issues, Michael Arcuri is not on the job. H.R. 3017 is a strong bill, with 117 cosponsors. Congressman Arcuri is not among them.

Representative Arcuri won't protect his own constituents from job discrimination. Why should he be given another term in Congress?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Arcuri Won't Act On Marriage Equality

You'd have to have your head in the sand not to know that we have a big problem of marriage inequality here in New York State. The majority of New York State residents support the legalization of same-sex marriage. The New York State Assembly has passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage. The New York Senate was about to pass such a law, until two Democrats, motivated by extreme bigotry to block the legislation, started caucusing with the Republicans. New York State government has been thrown into chaos because the anti-equality minority cannot stand the idea of gays and lesbians being given constitutionally-guaranteed equality under the law.

Here in the 24th congressional district, we have a lot of same-sex couples that are struggling under the current regime of inequality. In these economic hard times, it's especially troubling to see people suffering without health care and other benefits that they're entitled to get.

I don't know what it's like up in Utica, but in the southern part of the district, we've all got many friends and neighbors who are same-sex couples, living together as families, often with children. These people aren't a threat to anyone's heterosexual marriage. They aren't seeking special benefits. They're hard-working citizens who are only looking to be treated the same as everyone else.

But what will their representative in Congress, Mike Arcuri, do for them? Not a thing. Arcuri has neither introduced nor cosponsored any legislation to provide marriage equality to same-sex couples. As our state is brought to a standstill, Congressman Arcuri is completely inactive. Search Arcuri's congressional web site, and you'll see that he hasn't bothered to issue a press release, or make a little speech.

The LGBT residents of New York's 24th congressional district cannot depend upon Michael Arcuri to represent them in Washington D.C. For that matter, the many heterosexual allies who want equal rights for their LGBT friends and neighbors can't count upon Arcuri for representation either.

Where Representative Arcuri is lacking, the Green Party is not. The Green Party stands explicitly and forcefully in support of marriage equality, and full legal equality for homosexual Americans. The Green Party platform reads, "We support the recognition of equal rights of persons gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender to housing, jobs, civil marriage, medical benefits, child custody, and in all areas of life provided to all other citizens."

Where Arcuri refuses to act to protect the legal rights of his district's residents, a Green Party representative in Congress would not. For that reason, I'm hoping that 24th district voters have the opportunity to vote for a Green Party candidate in the 2010 congressional election.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mike Arcuri Only 21 Percent Progressive

24th district residents who have hoped that voting for Mike Arcuri would help bring about progressive change have been sadly disappointed. In the 111th Congress, Representative Arcuri has earned a progressive legislative score of only 21 out of 100 in the current session of Congress.

A 21 percent progressive? Is that what 24th congressional district voters thought they were voting for?

Representative Michael Arcuri has made himself part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

24th District Green?

24th District Green? There will be some who could comment that I've always been a Green, and that may be true in some sense, but I've never been registered as a member of the Green Party of New York State before. Still, looking back I can see that the Green Party was always the right place for me.

I knew I could never be a Republican. I value science, liberty and the natural world too much for that. I was a Democrat for years, at times very active within the Party, because I believed that the Democrats supported my values, and would defend them against the Republican onslaught.

In 2002, the Democrats promised resistance to the Republican agenda... as soon as the election was over. They couldn't risk losing seats, they said. In 2004, the Democrats said we needed to accept a lot of Republican rhetoric from Democratic candidates, because the elections couldn't be lost, but there would be resistance, they promised... as soon as the election was over. In 2006, the Democrats said that they would resist the Republicans, but took impeachment off the table, and said that a progressive agenda would come soon... after the election. [This was when Blue Dog Mike Arcuri came along and said that he thought that the Republican Military Commissions Act was just great].

In 2008, we heard the same thing. Accept big government spying, and more coal-burning power plants, and increased offshore drilling, and mixing church and state, and gay bashing, we were told, but just for the campaign. Change, and hope, and Yes We Can will come, they said... after the election.

Now, it's after the election, and the Democrats, true to form, are breaking the promises they made to advance a progressive agenda. They're supporting government secrecy, and lobbyist influence, and more war, and fossil fuel energy expansion, homophobia, mixing church and state. They're not retracting the Bush-era laws that hobbled our civil liberties. They're not holding anyone accountable for the crimes of the last 8 years. They're throwing obscene amounts of money to the same corrupt corporations that got our economy into trouble in the first place.

At the state level, Democratic governors have been a disaster. They've missed the opportunity for a reinvestment in our state's social infrastructure because of their arrogance and corruption. David Paterson's insistence that higher income New Yorkers won't be asked to carry their share of the burden created by Wall Street's meltdown smashed his credibility. His appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand, an inexperienced Blue Dog who leans far to the right, was a confirmation that the Democrats are more interested in power than principle.

There are a few Democratic politicians I appreciate. I respect my representative in the New York State Assembly, for example, and some of the Democratic politicians in my town and county. These Democrats aren't enough to redeem their party, however. Supporting the Democratic Party has become an exercise of the delusional hope that a few worthy individuals can reform a corrupt organization.

I'm casting my lot with the Greens, because though they don't have power, they have principle. I'd rather lose trying to do the right thing than win with people who have shown that they can't be trusted with power they have already been given.