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.