Hi….

Don’t know if anybody checks this anymore, but been thinking about restarting it. I don’t live in Buffalo anymore, though, so it may not be about that.  Right now I kinda wish I could just spend every day all day watching what PRESIDENT Obama is doing and writing about that… More thoughts to come…

Congressman Higgins, WTF?

Ok, this will be short and I’m late with this post since the Foley scandal has pushed torture out of the headlines, but Congressman Higgins, WTF on the torture vote????

The Buffalo News gave Murtha the last word, though, thankfully:

“It gives too much leeway to the president,” said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa. “And I think when you tamper with the Geneva Conventions . . . you hurt our ability to protect the troops.”

And I hope Reynolds goes down on this Foley insanity. Absolutely outrageous. Time will not allow me to blog about it further, however.

NY-SEN: What primary? The Presidential Primary? No?

The Buffalo News has a front page article about Hillary campaigning in the New York State heartland, and except for a guy in a chicken suit ……. you’d think from this article that there was no primary in New York State. That’s quite a gap in reality from how it appears on DailyKos from all the Tasini dairies and how people are claiming that New Yorkers are looking for an excuse to dump Hillary if just given the chance. But the Buffalo News is right. Essentially, Hillary has no primary. She barely has a general election, honestly, but since her potential Republican opponents are polling at 31% or 35% and Tasini is at 15%, what reason does she have to pay attention to him over the Republicans? Like it or not, progressives have to face reality. You are not getting Hillary’s attention. Try something else.

Now granted, this Buffalo News article is largely about Republicans who have shifted their opinions of Hillary since 2001, and that will probably give the Tasinistas another reason to lump her with Lieberman, but the reason they are doing so is because the primary is essentially over for her. The primary is not news. The only real story is whether she will run for President or not, not whether she’ll win the Senate seat back.

I think what progressives who wish to have an impact need to realize is that when you have a senator with a war chest of $22 million dollars cash on hand and $33 million raised, I think the biggest war chest of any Senator, Republican or Democrat, this ain’t going to cut it…..

Last week all across Central New York, she met adoring crowds and virtually no loud opposition, save for a person in a chicken suit carrying a sign saying that she was too “chicken” to debate Jonathan Tasini, her anti-war opponent in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary.

This is pathetic.

There is no substantial progressive movement with any real strategy or momentum to either impact Hillary Clinton’s record in any way or give her any sort of a run for her ginormous stacks of money, and anybody who thinks otherwise needs to check in at the front desk of Hotel Reality for a message. This is no way to build a progressive movement. This is how you make an ass of yourself.

“What about the Kiss Float?” you say. “Isn’t that the same kind of tactic?” Not even remotely. When you’re going up against Goliath, you need to aim for the sweet spot on the forehead or the temple, not aim for the shins or the fleshy behind. The Kiss Float was a perfect visual representation of Lieberman’s vulnerability – his smoochy lovey-dovey relationship to Bush, a great big rock to Lieberman’s forehead. Tasini focusing on whether or not Hillary will debate is first of all, standard underdog fare and not even remotely news or of importance to voters.

Tasini is barely a footnote to the 2008 Presidential Primary race, which is largely what the NY Senate race is going to be about. He’s at best a mosquito bite on the behind of Hillary Rodham Clinton. If you want to stop her run for President, Tasini is not your ticket to ride. Try Russ Feingold or something. (Personally, while I like Hillary okay as my Senator, I’m not wild about her for Prez….ahem, Gore, Clark, Edwards…)

Notice, by the way, that Hillary has raised all this money mostly from individuals, not PACs, and that she has gotten almost nothing from Party entities. Tasini has $11,000 cash on hand, raised $120,000 total, $30,000 of which was a candidate loan. Money is a strong indicator of real support for a candidate or a movement, and Tasini just ain’t got it.

So what to do? How do you cause a shift? Well, hate to tell y’all this, but it’s going to take long hard work. You have to elect more progressives to local and state office. You agitate on specific issues and legislation with Hillary, similar to this recent local action that encouraged Chuck Schumer to come out in favor of Net Neutrality. You have to organize for the long term, look for better candidates, raise more money, build more long term support. You have to deal with the reality of those who don’t support you and why, and find other tactics besides temper tantrums and guilt trips to persuade people. There was an actual indiginous progressive movement behind Ned Lamont that was being built for years and found a focus in the Lamont campaign.

None of this is to say that Tasini has no right to run or that people shouldn’t vote for him on Sept 12th. Knock yourself out. But don’t fool yourself into thinking you are having an impact on Hillary with your support for Tasini because you are not. If you are really committed to progressive change, think about focusing more energy on better candidates for 2008, on progressives for state and local office, and on NY candidates like Eric Massa or Kirsten Gillibrand who have a good chance of defeating Republican incumbents this November.

NY part of Regional Emissions Market

States continue to be ahead of the Federal curve on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. From the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

An ambitious plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Northeast by creating a market in which the right to pollute can be bought and sold has moved one step closer to realization. This month, the seven states of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) agreed upon a model rule — the rules of the game, so to speak — in anticipation of the start of emissions trading in 2009.

While federal legislation is nowhere on the horizon, even moderate Republican Governors like Pataki and Schwarzenegger are on board with, yes, admittedly limited steps, but steps nonetheless.

New York’s Gov. George Pataki pushed for creation of a regional cap and trade program, and as the largest state, New York has been a de facto leader in the cooperative effort to develop RGGI.

The RGGI includes New York, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware. (Massachusetts?? WTF??)

Environmentalists and power producers alike worry about the fact that RGGI will be limited to a handful of states, which also happen to already have some of the highest electric rates in the nation. Given the option, industries may choose to purchase cheaper, dirtier electricity from non-RGGI states such as neighboring Pennsylvania or Ohio, a phenomenon known as “leakage” that will dog the program so long as it remains regional.

“We would prefer, in any case, that this goes national. It should be a national program,” Meir said.

Schumer on Net Neutrality

The rallies being organized around the country for Net Neutrality worked locally to motivate Chuck Schumer to come out in favor of Net Neutrality. Two days before the event took place, Schumer released a strong statement in support of Net Neutrality.

“I believe the Internet has the power to enhance one of the most fundamental values of our democracy: freedom of speech. That’s why I support the free flow of information on the Internet and enforceable network neutrality. I will oppose the flawed and limiting provisions in Senator Stevens’ bill, S. 2686, which do not prevent providers from discriminating against Internet traffic from competitors. If the Stevens bill is not changed to protect network neutrality, I will oppose it. Network neutrality has allowed the Internet to be an engine of economic innovation, democratic participation, and free speech. Eliminating it would be a serious mistake.”

WNY Media reports on the rally:

Thanks to everyone who showed up to Support Net Neutrality and to show our thanks to Senator Schumer for listening to his constituents. On behalf of the savetheinternet.com Coalition, we delivered more than 47,953 signatures this afternoon to Sen. Schumer’s office in Buffalo.

That’s a LOT of signatures! Impressive local action. And goodonya, Chuck!

Schumer in Elmira

Chuck Schumer spoke to a group of Corning Business and Government leaders on Wednesday and spoke about trade, jobs and Iraq.

“We have trade policies that motivate companies to move to other countries for cheap labor,” said Schumer during an open forum at City Hall. “We need to level the playing field.” The Central American Free Trade Agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement and trade policies with China are unfair pacts, he said.“We need better trade rules,” Schumer said. “We must pass better trade laws so our companies here have a fighting chance.”

This is consistent with Schumer’s votes on trade agreements, but I also think to a degree that ranting about NAFTA/CAFTA is more rhetoric than reality at this point when it comes to economic development and upstate NY, and it’s probably true in other regions as well. Manufacturing jobs were exiting the area long before those trade agreements. Yes, we do need better international trade agreements and I applaud the Senator for voting no on CAFTA (he wasn’t around for NAFTA), but we need smarter economic development in the state more than anything else. (I’ll blog more about that eventually…)

Also on Schumer’s agenda:

Securing funding to complete upgrades to Interstate Highway 86 and several other key infrastructure projects.

Creating incentives for the development of ethanol plants throughout the state. The plans will help the country wean its dependence on natural gas.

Weak reporting by the Corning Leader. Would have been nice to have a little more substance to this article about what was discussed….

Oh Bucky….

Good lord. What the hell is up with this guy and why can’t we catch him?

2 troopers shot in Bucky search

Two state troopers trying to serve a search warrant were shot Thursday evening in Chautauqua County, where the search for escaped convict Ralph “Bucky” Phillips has been centered.

snip

Shortly after the shootings, state police converged on a Bachelor Hill Road residence in Chautauqua County, some 40 miles southwest of Buffalo, in connection with the search for Phillips, who has been on the run since escaping from the Erie County Correctional Facility in April.

snip

Since his escape, Phillips has woven his way around Western New York, evading police and helping himself to food, clothes and guns in unattended homes and hunting cabins, leaving a telltale trail of stolen vehicles along the way.

Most recently, Phillips was suspected of stealing 41 guns from a Chautauqua County gun shop last weekend and a nearby car, state police said.

He seems to be leaving quite the trail of evidence and misdeeds, but clearly none sufficient to nail the guy….or at least none sufficient for New York State law enforcement….

Labor dominates in California

Good posts over at California Majority

Chris Lehane gives a run-down of Labor victories from the past year and how they’ve proven their dominance of California politics.

In 2005, by adroitly using firefighters, cops, teachers and nurses, and focusing on the right messages (e.g. taking away death benefits from widows), Labor spanked Arnold up and down the state. After Labor was done with Arnold, he was a mere spectral figure of his past with his approval ratings dropping from the mid-60s to the high 30s. The Arnold of 2006, tail between his legs, wisely decided to roll over and put all four paws up in the air when it came to fighting with Labor.

As a result, Labor, working with Democratic leaders Perata and Nunez and other progressive organizations, has accomplished more in 2006 than most people would hope to get from a Democratic governor in an entire term: a significant minimum raise increase; a prescription drug benefit; workers comp concessions; the largest contract ever for state employees; funding restored for public education; an infrastructure plan (even the LAUSD bill that passed the Senate had significant labor protections included). All this from a governor who less than a year ago was trying to take away the right of workers to eat lunch!

snip

To stay on top long-term, Labor will need to couple its ability to use its organizational muscle to move the electoral dial in terms of turnout and contributions with identifying a progressive agenda that will mean something to people throughout the state. By progressive agenda – I don’t mean small bore ten point programs but truly big ideas like a statewide 401(k) plan to supplement Social Security; expanding compulsory public education from K-12 to pre-K-college to meet the challenges of a future where brains will be more important than brawn; a statewide livable wage indexed to inflation so that incomes will continue to grow; strengthened shareholder rights to protect against corporate irresponsibility. And such a progressive agenda is exactly what Labor needs to be thinking about as it stretches its political muscles in the parades and rallies this weekend.

This is all very outstanding in many ways, but it has its pitfalls, IMO. As Lehane says, “Labor wins when it is perceived as fighting for issues and values that benefit everyone – not just their organizations” – very true, and so does the general public, but that’s not always the case. A teacher friend of mine who had voted for Arnold but became disillusioned with him and was vehemently against the Special Election still wondered aloud about the teacher “merit pay” initiatives and while she disagreed with Arnold’s proposal wondered why the unions didn’t offer a viable alternative beyond “NO” to what she perceives in her experience to be a real problem with bad teachers and lack of incentive to improve. When unions dominate, they have no incentive to re-examine their own strategies. One hopes that they can take the opportunity, even so, to innovate for the benefit of all Californians. (if any readers who happen by this post know something I don’t about recent union strategies along these lines, please let me know. I will admit that I’ve been away from Cali for a year – so apologies if I’ve missed something.)

On the local level, grassroots activists often complain about “establishment Dems” in California making it difficult for local Democrats to have an influence on who gets to run for state seats, but the true “establishment” influence often can be tracked right back to labor king/queenmakers. I don’t know how many activists really understand this.

Oh SNAP! Go Massa and Walz! Smackdown of Rumsfeld

via Fighting 29th and crossposted at The Big Orange

Eric Massa and Tim Walz were on a DNC conference call this morning with reporters in response to Rumsfeld’s outrageous statements on Tuesday to veterans at an American Legion meeting. AP reports Rumsfeld said that:

the world faces “a new type of fascism” and warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement. Rumsfeld alluded to critics of the Bush administration’s war policies in terms associated with the failure to stop Nazism in the 1930s, “a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among the Western democracies.”

Democrats Massa and Walz, and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Don Fowler, co-chair of the DNC’s Veterans and Military Families Council spoke to reporters in response:

Massa:

“After 21 months of trying to find something I can agree with Secretary Rumsfeld on, it is true: the American people are being lied to and I totally agree with Secretary Rumsfeld,” Eric Massa, a Navy veteran, said Wednesday. “What I disagree with is the fact that he’s the one doing the lying.”

snip

Massa, who is challenging one-term Republican Rep. Randy Kuhl, said he was outraged by Rumsfeld’s comments and faulted him for blaming the media for his own misstatements and missteps.

Walz:

Walz, a Minnesota schoolteacher and veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard, said the Bush administration has no effective plan to secure the country.

“This thing has disintegrated,” Walz said of Iraq. “On the macro level, there’s an absolute failure.”

This is a great rapid media response from the DNC. Give them some props, and Go netroots candidates! Go Fighting Dems!

(NY-29) MoveOn “Caught Red-Handed” ads put GOP Randy Kuhl on defensive

For the official record: I have volunteered with the Massa campaign, but in no way am I officially affiliated with them or do my views on the race and these MoveOn ads reflect the views of the Massa campaign. I’m just a blogger and a passionate Democrat who really likes Eric Massa.

MoveOn.org has been running 2 ads each about Randy Kuhl in the NY-29th, and also about about John Sweeney in the NY-20th, called “Caught Red-Handed”. See them here.  Text below for the Kuhl ads:

First Ad

Caught red-handed again. Congressman Randy Kuhl accepted thousands of dollars from Defense Contractor PACs. Then he opposed penalties for Defense Contractors like Halliburton who overcharged the mil in Ira at a time when soliders didn’t have enough body armor. Tom Delay Dick Cheney and now Randy Kuhl Another Republican caught red-handed.

Second Ad

What happened to the $300 billion dollars we sent to Iraq? Halliburton got $18 billion, $9 billion is just plain missing. And our Congressman Randy Kuhl has been caught red handed voting for all of it. That’s money we need for jobs and healthcare here in NY. Now Randy Kuhl is ready to dump billions more in Iraq. Randy Kuhl, another Republican caught red-handed…

Both Republicans have responded by lawyering up (Sweeney link) or demanding that the stations pull the ads (Kuhl link)  This is, in turn, giving the ads and their content a great deal of free media coverage…..

Contrary to earlier press reports, none of the stations have pulled the ads, but have done fact checks and instead have found no legitimate reason to pull them. Kuhl did indeed vote for several appropriations, and against oversight on defense contractors he received PAC money from. Some stations have already run through the media buy that MoveOn has done so they are no longer running.

But the buzz continues, thanks to statements like these from Kuhl’s 24 year old campaign manager and son, James Kuhl:

“I would say it’s a phrase that implies one thing across all people. If you say red handed it automatically assumes illegitimate activity,” said James Kuhl.

Kuhl said there is nothing criminal about voting in congress.

News 10NBC contacted MoveOn.org in Washington.

“Webster’s Dictionary defines `red handed’ as misdeed. Yes if you’re describing a crime it could also mean that but we’re not describing a crime we’re making a charge that he has not done a good job performing his duties as a member of Congress,” said, Tom Matzzie, the Washington Director of MoveOn.org.

As Exile on Erickson St says on Rochester Turning,

Note to candidates everywhere: it is never a good idea to claim that you haven’t done anything illegal when no one is alleging that you have.

and in fact, the Kuhl campaign is lying about why the ads are no longer running! From The Fighting 29th blog

Rochester’s ABC affiliate denies they pulled a MoveOn ad, as the Kuhl campaign claimed in an earlier press release.  The GM of the station says the ads finished their scheduled run.  He also denies the Kuhl campaign’s claim that WHAM concluded that the ad “contained multiple misrepresentations and was purposefully deceptive.”

Kuhl has got nothing to defend his votes to protect the Defense contractors, so instead he tries to smear MoveOn with lies.

From another post from F29th

But here’s where James (Kuhl, campaign manager)  is stuck. To defend against specific charges gives them more credence. So he sticks with the “red handed” defense and leaves the rest of the ad to stand unanswered.

In this case, MoveOn got what they wanted. Not only did they air their attack ads, but they also got some priceless prime-time news coverage which repeated the content of those ads.

Are the ads being effective? Jury’s still out in New York, but previous ads that MoveOn ran in Connecticut, Ohio and Virginia were polled before and after and results were quite good.

Cheers to local blogs in the NY-29:
Rochester Turning
Fighting 29th

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