Take Back Congress - New York

Friday, March 31, 2006

Cayuga County Peace Group Supports Les Roberts

Emails recently sent by members of the Cayuga Coalition for Peace indicate that members of group are overwhelmingly backing Les Roberts in the Democratic congressional primary here in New York's 24th District.

Based in Auburn, but with members spread throughout Cayuga County and beyond, the Coalition for Peace has emerged as a consistent grassroots force in local politics, addressing issues that go far beyond just the war in Iraq. The group has sponsored discussions and actions on issues as far-ranging as domestic espionage against political dissent and the political implications of electronic voting machines.

With many Democrats among their ranks, the Cayuga Coalition for Peace can be counted upon to be a significant influence in the 24th District, in voting, volunteering, and fundraising. It is not clear if there is any equivalent issues-based grassroots organization in the district that is willing to put its support behind Michael Arcuri, who has yet to take many detailed stands on the issues that motivate such groups.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

What's The Cost?

Recently the DCCC released a report detailing just what the cost is of having Jimbo and his Republican comrades in charge. The entire thing is worth the read, but here are a few of the biggest costs:
  • $10 Billion in no-bid contracts to Halliburton.
  • 140 hours of testimony on the Clinton Christmas Card list to 12 hours of testimony for the abuses in Abu Ghraib.
  • Hundreds of soldiers in Iraq put at risk because of a lack body armor and armored Humvees.
  • $150 Million spent investigating Bill Clinton, including $2.2 Million spent between March 2004 and March 2005, nearly 4 years after Clinton left office.

Jimbo and his Republican comrades are a mistake we just can afford to make again.

Crossposted at The Walsh Watch.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Les Roberts Offers Solution For Iraq Crisis

On a national scale, the Democratic response to the disaster of the Iraq War has become a disaster all its own. After the dazzling performance by John Murtha last year, the Democrats in Congress seem to have collectively decided to pull their heads back into their shells. Sure, the congressional Democrats fire off a shot about the idiocy of starting the war in the first place, but let's not forget that many of those same Democrats on the Hill voted to help Bush start the war in the first place.

Even at a time when the American people are solidly against the war, and over 70 percent of soldiers in Iraq believe we need to be gone from there within the year, the Democrat's position of the Iraq War has become ineffective, largely because it's dominated by a timid, hair splitting approach that still fails to recognize the gravity of the problem. We see scores of Iraqis killed every day, by each other, and the former Iraqi Prime Minister that the United States maneuvered into power calls what's going on a civil war. Yet, we have Democrats in Congress, and Democratic congressional candidates, offering bland non-solution solutions like establishing "benchmarks" on our path to Iraqi Democracy, victory, and peace.

At a time when the situation in Iraq is becoming worse, not better, establishing benchmarks to "monitor our progress toward a stable democratic Iraq" is inadequate, and Democrats who offer plans that stop at such bureaucratic reshuffling demonstrate a lack of the kind of vision America needs to get us out of this mess. We need the Democrats to offer bold, imaginative strategies for ending the war in the least painful and humiliating way possible. It's time for us to get realistic, and acknowledge that the glowing, glittering victory Bush promised us three years ago is never going to happen.

The American people already know that. It's the Republican and most Democratic politicians who seem unable to accept reality. They're still afraid of being identified as "anti-war", not realizing that such political timidity is what enabled the United States to start the Iraq War in the first place.

Here in New York's 24th District congressional race, Democratic candidate Les Roberts is going to some trouble not to make too much out of his war record, though it is the kind of record that he ought to be proud of. It is the primary strength of his campaign - yet, he's decided not to use it, allowing himself to be identified in the public mind instead as some kind of mild-mannered epidemiologist. Do most people in the 24th District even know what that is?

It's a shame, because even Republicans are moving toward opposition to the war. Les Roberts has the experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, and elsewhere to bring him a kind of credibility that can cross party lines, so that he could win not just the Democratic nomination, but the general election as well. As it stands, Les Roberts has been made the underdog by the implicit DCCC endorsement of Michael Arcuri. Underdogs only ever come back to win when they act with boldness.

The material of such boldness already exists within the Les Roberts for Congress campaign - the campaign just needs to shake off its fear, and use it. I'm talking about the Iraq Position Paper recently released by the Roberts for Congress campaign.

The position paper goes to great length to summarize that dangerous position America finds itself in with the Iraq War, but the best part are the innovative proposals that Roberts makes at the end of the paper. Roberts proposes that, in order to end the war in the most painless way possible, the United States:

1. Win back the trust of the Iraqi people by ending suspicions that the United States is in Iraq in order to make American corporations rich through the exploitation of Iraq's oil resources. Les Roberts proposes a five-year ban on American for-profit corporations working in Iraq, as a way of showing that we have the best interests of the Iraqi people at heart.

2. Set a timetable for withdrawal. The refusal to set a timetable for withdrawal has not been effective in stopping the violence - in fact, the vagueness of such an approach has made the violence worse. Les Roberts proposes that we make it clear to the Iraqis that they are going to be the owners of their country, and they'd better get it in shape fast.

3. Congress should set an end date for the authority of President Bush to wage war in Iraq. Congress made a mistake in giving President Bush the power to start the war in Iraq, and Congress can take that power away from President Bush as well. Setting an end date gives the Bush Administration the message that it needs to change its failed Iraq War strategy in profound ways, and either win the conflict quickly, or start preparing to pull American soldiers out of harms way in a manner that is best for both the Iraqi people and for our military forces.

This is the kind of bold solution that the Democrats should have been proposing years ago. It's high time that our Democratic candidates and representatives in Congress step up to the plate and get serious about ending this war.

Don't run away from who you are, Mr. Roberts. Communicate your plans with the strength in which they were conceived, and you will earn the respect of the 24th District.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

War Orphan? Too Bad

With the 3 year anniversary of the beginning of the War in Iraq just passing, I thought I'd bring you this little gem.

Congressman Melancon introduced an amendment that would:

Provide retroactively $23 million for war orphans: Surviving spouses with minor children are eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation to assist the families with immediate and transitional needs after the death of a spouse. Right now, only servicemember families whose spouses die after November 30, 2004, receive this $250 per month benefit for 2 years. This amendment will help approximately 4,100 spouses with children whose servicemember spouse died during the war on terrorism between September 11, 2001, and November 30, 2004.

Here is Jimbo's response:

Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment.

Sometimes, there's just nothing to add, Jimbo's words speak for themselves.

Crossposted at The Walsh Watch.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Trouble With Abortion and Michael Arcuri

Democrat Michael Arcuri has not answered constituent questions about his position on abortion.

Why not?

Once, when a constituent asked the question about abortion on the discussion forum at the Michael Arcuri campaign web site, the question was deleted by the Arcuri for Congress campaign.

The next time, when a second constituent used the discussion forum to ask Arcuri about his position on the legality of abortion, the entire discussion forum was removed by the Arcuri for Congress campaign.

There are three reasons it bothers me what Michael Arcuri has done with his discussion forum.

1. First of all, it reveals to me that the Arcuri for Congress campaign thinks it's a problem when voters have a voice. It gives the appearance that Arcuri is afraid of answering voters' questions in general.

2. The abortion issue is a vital one for this election. South Dakota has just banned all abortions - even when women are raped, or when girls are the victims of incest. There will surely be a Supreme Court case challenging Roe v. Wade, and Bush has stacked the court to overturn the right to an abortion. Abortion is, therefore, an issue that the Congress will have to deal with. We need to know Arcuri's position on the issue. I'm starting to wonder: Is Arcuri Pro-Life?

3. Rahm Emanuel, the Democratic Party boss from Illinois, has instructed all his "recruits", of which Michael Arcuri is one, to avoid talking about abortion. So, this brings up a disturbing question: Is Michael Arcuri taking orders from Rahm Emanuel? We need a Congressman who can be his own man.

We don't have Sherwood Boehlert to kick around any more. So, it's time for the Democratic candidates to get serious. Michael Arcuri, what is your position on abortion?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Illinois Party Boss Interferes in 24th District Election

A report out from Bloomberg News yesterday afternoon cites Rahm Emanuel, a Democratic congressman from Illinois who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, referring to Michael Arcuri as "one of his key recruits this year."

One of his key recruits?

Pardon me, but since when does a politician from Illinois get the power to choose who the Democratic candidate for Congress in New York State's 24th congressional district will be?

The answer is simple - he doesn't. We do. We, the Democrats of the 24th District.

I don't care if you're pro-Arcuri, or pro-Roberts, or pro-Tytler. You ought to be offended that Rahm Emanuel believes he can just hand pick which Democrat will represent us in the general election.

Rumors have it that we still live in a democracy, and the way our Democracy works is that we, the people, are supposed to have the power to select our own leaders. Apparently, some people with the national Democratic Party are working to squelch those rumors.

In fact, they're setting out rumors of their own. Although there are no public opinion polls on this Democratic primary race and the only publicly available campaign finance information shows that Michael Arcuri had raised NO money by the end of the last filing deadline, with a suspiciously synchronized timing, all the establishment political reports in Washington D.C. have been reporting that the Democrats in the 24th District are all solidly behind Michael Arcuri.

I've been following this race for every day for three months now. I live in the District. I've attended campaign events here. I've been getting information from many sources within the District, and I can tell you one thing for sure: The Democrats of the 24th District are solidly behind nobody yet. The Democrats of New York's 24th District haven't had time to make up their minds yet. We just found out yesterday afternoon that Sherwood Boehlert is retiring, so how could we District 24 Democrats possibly have come to a conclusion about which Democrat would be the best candidate to take on the Republican candidate? We don't even know for sure who that Republican candidate is!

The people who write those political reports have not actually bothered themselves to come to New York's 24th District. They're just relying on what their inside sources in the DCCC, like Rahm Emanuel, are saying. They're assuming that whomever Rahm Emanuel supports, the Democrats of the 24th District will support.

The fact is that we have two very good Democratic candidates besides Michael Arcuri: Les Roberts and Bruce Tytler.

Since I first reported on Rahm Emanuel's poorly-timed comments yesterday, many people from outside the 24th District have been sending me angry messages telling me to shut up and get out of the way of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They're telling me that I ought to be happy just to have the chance to get another Democrat in Congress - even if I have no say as a Democratic voter on which Democrat gets to represent my home district.

These comments miss the point of what a primary election is all about. A primary election is not an obstacle to having a strong Democratic candidate in the general electiom. A primary election is the tool through which our nation remains a democracy. It is the right and responsibility of local Democrats to choose their own representatives. That's not a problem - it's a basic right that Americans fought the Revolutionary War for. It's downright unpatriotic to try to deprive American voters of that right.

We should not kid ourselves into thinking that all we need to do to bring an effective, clean, government into power is just to get the Republicans out of Congress. The problem is much trickier than that. Ideologically, I disagree with the Republicans, and I want them out of office. But, I'm not so stupid as to believe that Democrats are not susceptible to the same corrupting influences that have brought us a slew of Republican scandals, with Jack Abramoff and beyond.

If Michael Arcuri wins a Democratic primary election fair and square, that's fine. If Michael Arcuri gets the Democratic nomination by pressuring the other candidates to quit the race before the primary, however, that's a sign of trouble for us Democrats of the 24th district.

If Arcuri wins the nomination solely because of money and resources pumped into the race by Rahm Emanuel, then we 24th District Democrats have some serious soul searching to do. If Arcuri goes on from such a nomination process to win the general election, he will not represent the people of the 24th District in Congress. He will represent the interests of Rahm Emanuel.

I don't write this blog so that Rahm Emanuel can have another loyal foot soldier in the House of Representatives. I write this blog because I want to participate in the democratic process, and have a member of Congress who is more accessible, and more accountable to the voters, than Sherwood Boehlert has been.

It seems that many Democrats on the national level, who only a few weeks ago were dismissing our district as unwinnable, are now opportunistically trying to manipulate our election. These Democrats seem not to care very much about the democratic process. What they care most about is a win for their team, to help them expand their power.

More and more, it seems to me that we 24 District Democrats all being played for a bunch of suckers. Are you going to play along, like a good sucker?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

This Leaves A Bad Taste In My Mouth

This smells like some foul fowl:
  • On Thursday Jimbo voted against an amendment that "permits states to maintain or enact food warning laws notifying parents of the risks of cancer, reproductive or developmental toxins, and food borne pathogens associated with certain foods".
  • Immediately before, Jimbo said no to an amendment gives states the authority to handle bioterrorism attacks on their food supplies.

Better watch what you eat.

Crossposted at The Walsh Watch.

Can Mike Arcuri Be Passionate and Moderate At The Same Time?

From Take Back New York's 24th:


In the most expected announcement I've heard in a long while, Democrat Michael Arcuri announced yesterday that he will be running for Congress this year, first battling it out with other Democrats to gain the nomination, and then campaigning against incumbent Republican Sherwood Boehlert, or whomever runs in his place.

Arcuri's announcement speech, available on his campaign web site, is an extension and refinement of the speech he has been giving around the district while visiting local Democratic groups. In particular, there's a new, stirring ending in which Arcuri announces that now is the time for action, not neutrality:

"When I was young, I would often ask my Father for advice on one thing or another, and he used to love to quote a passage from Dante’s Inferno to me. That quote is: 'The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.'

This is not the time to be neutral. This is the time to be bold. This is the time to be passionate. This is the time for change. This is a time for us to make a difference."

Now, that's the kind of fire in the belly I've been waiting to see in one of our candidates for quite some time now. The funny thing about Arcuri's announcement speech, though, is that for every fire it kindles, it's got a sprinkler all set to give us a cold shower if things get too hot.

Consider another passage, spoken just a minute or two before the ending where Arcuri reminds us of the importance of not being neutral in times of moral crisis:

"The 24th Congressional District is a moderate district. That’s why Congressman Boehlert was effective for so long… because he tried to be a moderate. The problem is he can no longer be an effective moderate in his own party… because his party leadership has forsaken traditional American values."

It's going to be interesting trying to figure out this Michael Arcuri fellow. One minute he's Paul Wellstone, and the next minute, he's Joseph Lieberman. He's a moderate who says he won't run a partisan campaign, but he also tells us that this is no time to be neutral.

If Arcuri isn't going to be neutral, then he's going to be a partisan. If Arcuri isn't going to be a partisan, then he can be neutral, but what can he possibly stand for?

Arcuri referred to his accumulated political wisdom today by saying, "I learned to NOT run partisan political campaigns but, rather, campaigns that speak to issues of concern to all voters."

I've got some hard news for Mr. Arcuri. The issues that are of the most importance to the people of the 24th district are issues that the people of the 24th district do NOT agree about. The only "issues of concern" that appeal to all voters are pieces of genuine consensus that don't get to the heart of the matter.

We all want more jobs and a better economy for the 24th District. The issue we fight about is HOW to get them. We all want good schools. The issue we fight about is HOW to get them. We all want fiscal responsibility. The issue we fight about is WHERE to cut the budget and HOW to increase government revenues.

We fight about these details not because we're nasty people who like to fight. We fight about these issues because they're important. They're important enough that they must not be ignored by our candidates.

That doesn't go just for Michael Arcuri. It goes for Les Roberts too, who has let placeholder messages like "Please check back soon..." stand on his campaign web site for the last two months. It also goes for Bruce Tytler, who doesn't even have a web page.

Votes are not earned through back-room meetings with party insiders. They're not earned through television advertisements. They're earned with straight talk that lets voters know where candidates really stand on the important issues that divide us.

Enough silence. Enough ambiguity. Enough promises about plans that will come out later. Enough with trying to talk an argument both ways.

We voters aren't stupid. We know when we're being talked down to, and if we don't get the respect of some direct talk about the difficult issues of the day, most of us will stay home.

I'm not saying that because I want it to be true. I'm saying it because it is true. Michael Arcuri was right when he said that this is the time to be bold, the time to be passionate, the time for change. But, that change has to take place in the way a campaign is run as well as in the pretty words that candidates make in speeches.

Candidates: Be bold, be passionate, and be on the level. Fight like hell for our votes -- and don't pull any punches.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Aborting Reason and Moderation

Right now, I'm sure no one is happier than Jimbo at South Dakota's new abortion ban. Jimbo and South Dakota have a position so extreme on abortion, it makes Bush look moderate.

Jimbo's position is so extreme that a 13 year old girl raped and impregnated by her father would not be able to get an abortion.

Be prepared for a lot more stories like this if Jim Walsh and South Dakota get their way.

Crossposted at The Walsh Watch.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

How Does One Report Fairly on Leon Koziol?

Earlier today, someone left the following comment on this blog:

"Tow of the three serious candidates? I would like to introduce you to Leon Koziol. You seem to have some love for the internet, and think it is so important. Well, it's not. I have been studying politics for many years (B.A. in Political Science, Brown University, J.D. from Cornell) and very, very few people actually visit these sites (other than political insiders). However, Koziol does have a site being worked on and it will be up and running this week. Now to the real issue...Your lack of journalistic integrity. Your failure to even mention a candidate who is the only one currently running TV ads, has traveled the district, and nearly locked-up the Independence line, is clearly a biased and intentional act on your part. I do agree with many of your views, and certainly enjoy many of your posts; however, you should pay more attention to fair reporting. Politics can get very dirty (especially in Oneida County), and I would hate to see a negative campaign launched against your pal Les."

I'd like to address this comment by considering the simple question: How does one report fairly on Leon Koziol?

First of all, I might say that, as much as I have an interest in providing information on the 24th District congressional campaign, I value fair advocacy as well as fair reporting. This is a blog, not a newspaper. So, while you'll currently find more information here on the campaigns than you will in any newspaper in this district, that doesn't mean that I hold myself to newspaper standards of neutrality. When I learn enough about the Democratic candidates to endorse one of them, I'll do so, but Bruce Tytler and Mike Arcuri are still holding their cards too close to their chests to really tell what kind of candidates they'll be... once they get their campaigns really running, which they haven't so far.

I'm not a right wing Democrat of the Joseph Lieberman sort. Leon Koziol is. Therefore, he's just not getting my vote. I wholeheartedly endorse opposition to Leon Koziol. The right wing agenda he supports makes him just not worth considering at all. That isn't just my opinion. It'll be the opinion of the majority of the Democrats in District 24 too. As much as right wing Democrats like to pretend that they're in charge, most Democrats here are moderately to strongly progressive, especially in light of the very low popularity of the Republicans in Congress and President Bush right now.

Besides being a right winger, Leon Koziol kind of comes off as a kook. He doesn't answer telephone calls or emails in a manner that is at all timely. Mr. Koziol sent me one of those television advertisements that the anonymous commenter talks about. Koziol told me it was a campaign advertisement. It's nothing of the sort. It's an advertisement for his law firm, with some pretty blatant attempts to skirt the campaign finance laws by creating the impression that it's an ad to promote Leon Koziol for Congress, without ever saying so. That's pretty slicky tricky, but you know, the part that stays with me is the slick part - oily slick.

Then there's the fact that, although Leon Koziol made his "announcement" two weeks ago, and his supporters were going around telling people that Koziol already had 20,000 dollars in campaign contributions, he still doesn't have any paperwork with the FEC. That's mighty, mighty suspicious. I'm starting to suspect that this whole Koziol for Congress nonsense is really just a scheme to drum up business for Koziol's law firm.

Every contact I've had with Leon Koziol suggests that he's not serious. The only fair thing to report is that he doesn't look like a serious candidate. Objectivity is not the same thing as blindness. I'm not going to pretend that a fish rotting on the lakeside is a piece of fine cuisine.

I particularly enjoy hearing about how unimportant the Internet is for politics from a visitor who's come to read and comment this a political blog. If the Internet doesn't matter in this campaign, what's this commenter wasting his time here for?

It doesn't take a degree from Cornell University to figure that one out.

Selling Out Our Veterans

I'm beginning to think it's irony week here at The Walsh Watch. Monday, we had a Congressman with the most polluted lake in America with a horrendous record on the environment. Tuesday, we had a Congressman from an economically depressed district without absolutely no plan on the environment. And now today, we have the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Quality of Life and Veteran Affairs and Related Agencies screwing Veterans. Amazingly, this is all the work of the same Congressman.

Jimbo sure likes his title as Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Quality of Life and Veteran Affairs and the great perks that come with it, he just doesn't think he should actually have to look out for veterans.

Jim and his Republican masters American Legion had some choice words in a letter to the Chairman of the Budget committee:

The American Legion is deeply troubled and cannot support your Committee's proposed Budget resolution... especially the reconciliation instructions targeted at earned veterans' benefits. Reducing mandatory appropriations for veterans' disability compensation, pensions, and education at a time of war is inconsistent with the thanks of a grateful Nation.


It appears the pattern of shortchanging VA medical care continues in the 109th Congress. America's veterans and their families deserve better.

Where are your priorities Jim?

Hat tip to the DCCC.

Crossposted at The Walsh Watch.