Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Thumbs Down

I'm giving a thumbs down to Alan Chartock who always introduces John Sweeney as his "friend" on WAMC for his comments about the 20th race on this week's Media Project.

Chartock didn't even pronounce Gillibrand's name right (it's Jill-i-brand) and stated that the recent NY Times article which called this race the political battle of Sweeney's life was not "based in fact."

Chartock said, "I happen to know he's not in that kind of trouble... I don't happen to think that's true" And "I happen to have certain you know proof of that."

What proof could that be are you in touch with people who are rigging voting machines and can predict elections before votes are cast?

What about the fact that Gillibrand has been meeting with voters here for almost 2 years now? That she's been to my county more than Sweeney has in the last year? Or that the last time this district was held by a Democrat was right after the Nixon administration... when Republicans were unhappy with ethics issues, as they are again?

Chartock claimed to have sources to demonstrate that he was right. Mr. Chartock, sources don't decide elections, voters do.

Chartock disagreed with another panelist who said that Sweeney is one of the 20 targeted seats to turn over. Chartock said, "Nope, nope, nope, not true."

I happen to know AC is utterly WRONG in that claim because the Democratic Congressional Committee is funding this race and Gillibrand raised almost as much money as Sweeney did in the last funding cycle (Sweeney's showing was considered weak for an incumbent).

Then Chartock had the nerve to accuse the NY Times of "slanting" their article. Gee all that love from Mr. Chartock and John Sweeney doesn't even list WAMC on his media links page. Oh, he has a link to the Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Liely radio station because Sweeney's just such an independent thinker, you know.

Mailer Images

The Times Union Blog has images up of that second Sweeney mailer (the smug one):
U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, has some new campaign literature, in which he not only neglects to mention he’s Republican, but also tries to distance himself from the very same president on whose behalf he once fought, earning the moniker “Congressman Kickass.” ... (read more)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Some Real Independent Thinking

Sweeney sent his second mailer out already (nope, he hasn't taken me off his mailing list yet). But he's not sent anything to my husband oddly enough. Maybe he presumes that the men are going to vote for him? Or is he just trying to make up for his "pretty face" gaff? The photo on the front of the mailer shows the Capital Building all chopped up with the words, "Washington is BROKEN."

Makes me think, "Yeah, thanks to your carpetbagging free trip to Florida to shut down the vote count and crown King George." Of course the flyer says that "John Sweeney is fighting to fix it." I guess he forgot that voted to protect Tom Delay changing a rule requiring members in leadership positions to step down if indicted by state grand juries. Sweeney was still fighting for DeLay in 2005. And how Abramoff's law firm is one of his top donors (with Alexander Strategy Group which was funded by Enron and run by DeLay staff). And how he voted for the sham-form and is not doing anything to change Washington afterall. And that Sweeney is under investigation by the state and the DOJ.

On page two there is a picture of a smug looking Sweeney with his arms crossed over his chest. Karl Rove must not have been at the photo shoot to let John know that "If we cross our arms across our chest, we are isolating ourselves and avoid company of others." But the kicker is the tag line, "An Independent Voice Fighting for Reform"

HA! HA! HA! That's a good one. During this 108th session of congress, Sweeney voted with the Democrats in just 13 out of 99 votes. See for yourself.

It doesn't seem very "representative" for a district in which Democrats and No Party voters outnumber Republican voters. (221,899 registered as Democratic or No Party and 197,753 registered as Republicans in the 20th.) Shouldn't he be standing up to his party a lot more? He's voted with the Republican majority around 86% of the time in the last congress. Sweeney was fully supporting Bush in 2006 until Sweeney found out that he had a strong challenger, Kirsten Gillibrand, in this race. And if he were to get re-elected, he'd go right back to his old Rubber Stamping, Absenttee and Lobbyist Vacationing life style, so don't believe the hype.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Flying Around

The TU Blog covered Gillibrand's First Flyer saying:

Generally, the flyer hits all the Gillibrand campaign's high points, subtly seeking to paint Sweeney as a tool of the Bush White House, lobbyists and other “special interests” and Gillibrand as an independent outsider.

“Upstate New Yorkers deserve leaders who are responsible and accountable to New York, not Washington and partisan special interests. And New York needs leaders who stand up to the Bush administration and work for real progress on the issues that we care about most.”

The Sweeney response? launch the same tired and lame attack you've presented 5,000 times already. According to Sweeney it seems Gillibrand's big crime is that she took money from people who worked for a law firm that defended Enron. And that her boss worked for Enron, gee, last I checked. I didn't get to tell my boss who our clients could or couldn't be.

Does this mean that John Sweeney's giving back the $3,000 he took from Arthur Anderson, the company that worked for Enron and cooked the books for them?

For details on some of Sweeney's Enron Supportive votes, go here.

I guess he's just desperate to cover up his recent frat party goofs, his 2001 "accident" that took out a utility pole (which didn't get any of the national media attention that Patrick Kennedy did for some reason). And let's not forget that his carpetbagger trip to Miami during the 2000 vote count:

...the Republican operatives sent to Florida were recruited by Republican Congressional Whip Tom DeLay, offering free travel, accommodations and food in Florida, all paid for by the Bush campaign. Reportedly, New York Republican Congressman John Sweeney issued a specific directive for Republican thugs to “shut it down” (referring to the Miami-Dade recount) and this was transmitted to the “troops” by Brendan Quinn, executive director of the Republican Party from New York.

Well, we know he still can't resist free vacations with loved ones.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fatal Errors

Republicans are up in arms (really) over the Mailer Sweeney sent out which fails to mention that he is a republican.

Though the conventional wisdom is that the 20th is a heavily Republican one, the fact is that Rs don't have a majority here. Democrats and No party voters number more than the total Republican enrollment. In 1998, Washington County which is considered a "Republican strong hold" went to Sweeney's Democratic challenger. So Sweeney knows voters are open to judging the best candidate. And aren't likely to vote for a bad Republican candidate over a great Democratic one. Additionally, the last time the 20th was held by a Democrat was right after the Nixon administration when voters were unhappy with a Republican administration and ethics issues. Ring a bell?

The TU blog first noted the "oversight" as some Sweeney supporters are calling it. Like Fed Up, I got the mailer recently. Besides thinking Team Sweeney is pretty stupid to be sending an author of the 20TrueBlue blog a piece of campaign literature, the other things missing from the mailer were:

John Sweeney's son and his wife. There is a picture of Sweeney with his "other son" (a nephew). Of his sisters. Pictures of his parents. But not of his nucular (as W would put it) family. Interesting.

I guess Karl Rove ("reassigned from day-to-day policy management to concentrate on the fall campaign") doesn't want to remind folks of the kickbacks his wife has gotten or the kick-ins his son has given. I guess if you have to cut out your family and party to save your President's last two years in office, it is all in a day's work for a not-so independent guy like you, Mr. Sweeney.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sweeney Mailer

Just this last weekend we got Sweeney's latest puff piece mailer for his campaign. Apparently, mirabile dictu, he's from upstate. Well, whoop-de-doo. So is Kirsten Gillibrand. So am I. So is my neighbor, the town drunk.

Now, admittedly, my neighbor doesn't have a seat in Congress that was essentially given to him by the governor, but by the criteria implicit in Sweeney's mailer, he has the same qualifications. The joke of Sweeney's whole strategy, as far as I can tell from what I read, is that while claiming to be one of us, he's been the consummate insider in Washington. He's been DeLay's slave, voting with him 92% of the time, he's the one of the guys the Bush team sent down to Miami to shut down the electoral process in the famous bourgeois riot that helped Bush to steal the election in '00, he was the deciding vote on CAFTA, which has only hurt his district. While we continue to suffer from the concentration of corporate power that is the GOP today, Sweeney continues to collect money from the pharmaceutical lobby ( hello, Utah !), oil, and on and on. He studiously stood back from making a public statement on the attempt to gut social security, but is known to support privatizing it.

He has shown the good sense to stop his wife's skimming off his fund-raising, but not out of principle, but because the only other person doing this is currently under investigation.

Of course, he's got his own troubles:

Last year, two aides from the Justice Department pulled the financial disclosure records of Rep. John Sweeney, along with those of a number of other lawmakers and aides. The others made sense as possible subjects of interest in the Abramoff investigation, but Sweeney didn't. What was the Justice Department investigating? We couldn't figure it out.

Carlson had no explanation for why the Justice Department might be examining Sweeney's records, only saying that "they are public records, anybody's free to examine them" and that "many people do look at them."

Now, are we sure that this is why the Justice Department is looking at Sweeney? No. But it's been repeatedly reported that lawmaker's arrangements with their wives interest investigators, as with Tom DeLay's wife Christine, who worked for DeLay and for Buckham.

The man has enriched himself at our expense, and that is the furthest thing from his self-portrayal as being a salt-of-the-earth hard-working Upstater. Upstaters are honest, hard-working, self-sufficient, not lying leeches.

Oh, yeah, and the mailer never mentions the GOP or George Bush, either.

Gillibrand Event

Kirsten's speech was fantastic yesterday. She talked about her priorities: health care, ways that renewable energy can create jobs in our district, and about her exit strategy for Iraq. The Times Union covered Gillibrand's event.

And the Post Star did too. From Maury Thompson's report:

ALBANY -- The second-highest ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives flew into Albany on Sunday to give a boost to Kirsten Gillibrand's congressional campaign.

"I'm going to give Kirsten Gillibrand at least $14,000 of my (campaign) funds," said U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

Gillibrand sounded energized as she spoke just moments after the announcement.

"I do think our country is at a crossroads. It is a very precarious time," she said.

Hoyer said the race against incumbent U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, is important because a victory would help the Democratic Party move into power.

Democrats need 15 seats to gain control of the House.

"In the 20th district of New York, you can make one-fifteenth of the difference," Hoyer said at a reception in Albany, which is outside the 20th district.

Hoyer, the House's minority whip, is positioned to be majority leader if Democrats take control of the house, said U.S. Rep. Michael McNulty, D-Green Island, who introduced Gillibrand.

McNulty said he has been a longtime friend of Gillibrand's family.

"She is politically smart. She has a tremendous work ethic," McNulty said of Gillibrand, a lawyer from Hudson.

Registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats about 2 to 1 in the district, but there are nearly as many independents as Democrats.

Hoyer said recent polling indicated 70 percent of independents in the nation are not satisfied with the direction of national policy.

Washington County Democratic Chairwoman Sheila Comar said she almost jumped out of her seat when Hoyer announced the $14,000 commitment at the end of his speech.

"I can't believe it," she said.

The contribution will help the Democrats keep pace with Sweeney, who held a fundraiser with U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in Saratoga Springs on Saturday, Comar said.

Republicans have said Gillibrand's national agenda overshadows local issues.

But Lisa Manzi, a Democrat from Greenwich, said national issues affect everyone.

"Everything Kirsten is talking about is also local, because it's going to affect us all," she said.

Nearly 200 people attended the reception at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albany. The reception had a suggested admission of $100.

Hoyer was a last-minute replacement for U.S. Rep Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., who was originally scheduled to speak. Emanuel is chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

...Hoyer said Emanuel, who sent along a check for $2,500, wanted a high-profile speaker to demonstrate the race's national importance.

"He said, 'We want to indicate this is one of the most important races in the whole United States,' " Hoyer said.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


From The Note on Friday:
Sen. John McCain attends a Saratoga Springs, NY fundraising lunch for Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) tomorrow. (It's unclear if the two will hit a fraternity party together or not.)

Sweeney says he was wrong...

but has anyone else noticed that whenever Bush or Sweeney has to eat crow and admit they were wrong about something (or has to suck up to the person that's looking for the top job whichever the case may be), the admission is immediatlely followed up with a reference to September 11th?

From today's Times Union:

Facing perhaps the toughest race of his political career, Rep. John Sweeney brought an unlikely supporter to the area Saturday to boost his campaign -- U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Six years ago, Sweeney blasted McCain, R-Ariz., who was in a presidential primary against George W. Bush, as "anti-New York," citing his voting record on ice storm relief for the Northeast, the Northeast Dairy Compact and mass transit money.

But Saturday, the pair praised each other limitlessly at events in Saratoga Springs and Brunswick. Sweeney didn't deny his past criticism of McCain.

"I was wrong," Sweeney said to thunderous applause and laughter. "And that was in the context of a presidential race, but let me say this ... since September the 11th, everyone became a New Yorker in some respects. ...As I said, you can be wrong in this business and you get do-overs. This is a do-over."

In 2000, Sweeney was quoted saying, "If there was such a thing as an anti-New York caucus, (McCain) would be the head of it." ...

In the grown up world, there aren't do overs, Mr. Sweeney. When you vote against McCain Feingold and then tell us that you are a reformer, we know the truth. You are not serious about cleaning up the house. And you're not committed to lobbying reform.

While the Republican party is trying to scare us because Gillibrand is related to a lobbyist, I say two things: a person can't choose what their relatives do for a living. And maybe Gillibrand's understanding of lobbying because of that relationship has led to Gillibrand's very sound ethics reform proposals.

Can you imagine with the Rs would say, if Gillibrand told us that people get to have "do-overs" in congress? I have a feeling it would be met with snickering not laughter.

I will give McCain credit for telling his party the facts about this race, "We all know that this is going to be a tough election season. The Republicans are going to have a difficult challenge in this election." I guess it was hard not to see it after this.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The McCain Train Off Track

The Sweeney/McCain fundraiser is getting the "straight-talker" some bad blog-o-sphere. Stop John McCain says:
Let me get this straight: McCain's shilling for a corrupt Congressman who parties with frat boys, goes on skiing retreats with lobbyists, votes the party line, and refers to his female opponent as “a pretty face"? Yep, looks like "The Straight-Talk Express" has left the station.

Read the whole post here.

Also check out coverage of this district on the Main St. USA blog, a member of the reality based community):

Gerrymandering can only take you so far. Look at that district. Lots of poor folks who are probably not enjoying $3.00+ a gallon gasoline. Most have never been to a frat party, even when they were the right age. The NYTimes takes note of John Sweeney's (cough, cough) ineptitude.

When Sweeney votes with the Democrats

The Hill reports:

In a relatively easy vote, the House approved its annual budget early Thursday morning after GOP leaders struck a deal with centrist Republicans.

The bill passed after leadership promised holdouts they would restore the entire $7.2 billion to the labor, health and human services (HHS) appropriations bill that had been left out of the bill.

The measure passed, 218-210, with 12 Republicans voting against the annual spending blueprint and unanimous opposition from chamber Democrats.

John Sweeney is one of 12 Republicans who voted against leadership’s budget. All but two of the Republicans who voted against the budget are expected to face challenging reelection races in November.

This is one of the problems that we have, the Rs are trying to convince us that Mr. Sweeney is an independent Republican, all of the Democrats voted against this bill. Only 12 Republicans did. So, my question is... if the Democrats unanimously did the right thing but the majority party passed a bad bill anyway, why not just elect Gillibrand to represent us?

An article we linked to previously stated that the Republican leadership is allowing some of its members in tight races to vote against the party. As long as they know that they're going to get the bills they want passed, they don't care. All that matters to them is holding their majority and keeping up business as usual. So remember, when Sweeney votes with Democrats, don't fall for the hype, it's all part of Karl Rove's strategy.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Talking back with Sweeney

John Sweeney recently said of Gillibrand's criticism of his vacationing with lobbyists while was telling voters here he's an ethics a reformer, "The inference is that you are not representing the people. She is not qualified to make that claim..."

What's his reasoning for that? Because Gillibrand is related to a lobbyist. The last time I checked, we don't get to pick who our relatives are or what they do for a living. But, Mr. Sweeney you have been funded by lobbyists more than any other industry. And you do get to pick who funds your campaign.

Sweeney also said, "It's not going to be enough [for an opponent] to say 'I hate George Bush, get rid of John Sweeney. Someone else is going to have to say how they will represent the people of this district better."

He's wrong again. Gillibrand's never said her reason for running is because of Bush. Her reason for running is to represent us. A visit to one of Gillibrand's open forums or to her website shows how she will represent us better:

By lowering college costs, supporting tax cuts for the working class instead of the CEOs, making promises on ethics reform, and in giving us an exit strategy for Iraq.

See On the Issues for details.

Sweeney's Battle

In this must read New York Times Article about the 20th district race and the political battle of John Sweeney's life, we see more of the hypocrisy of the Sweeney spinners. Here are some quotes

And Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, who has long relied on Mr. Sweeney to advance the city's agenda on the House Appropriations Committee, on which he has a seat, plans to hold a $1,000-a-person fund-raiser for him in the coming weeks at his Upper East Side town house. ...

"John is a totally independent guy," Mr. Bruno, the State Senate majority leader, said. "If there is anybody who has demonstrated his independence from the national Republican agenda, it is him."

Yeah, right. His voting record shows he's a Bush Rubber Stamper. Who's agenda is this? Sweeney's ranked Rated 18% by the NEA, indicating anti-public education votes. And Rated 10% by NARAL, indicating an anti-choice voting record. Rated 15% by the LCV, indicating anti-environment votes. Rated 69% by the Christian Coalition. He Voted NO on campaign finance reform banning soft-money contributions. Voted NO on allowing importation of prescription drugs. Voted NO on strengthening the Social Security Lockbox. Voted YES on making the Bush tax cuts permanent. (source).

Previously Sweeney even identified himself as part of the Bush campaign saying, "I think it's legitimate for us in the Bush campaign..." (Decision 2000," MSNBC, March 2).

...Mr. Sweeney has long been considered a potential candidate for higher office.

But now he finds himself battered by headlines about his own actions, including his recent attendance at a college fraternity party. He also faces the woes afflicting other Republicans around the country, who — as members of the party controlling the White House and Congress — are potentially vulnerable at a time when polls indicate that Americans are in a dark mood about the future of the nation.

Added to the mix is Mr. Sweeney's Democratic challenger, Kirsten Gillibrand, a lawyer and a tough and disciplined opponent. She has been barnstorming the district, which encompasses all or parts of 10 counties, carrying the same message that she delivered here one day last week during a campaign stop at Skidmore College: that Mr. Sweeney and his Republican allies in Washington are out of touch with average Americans, who are increasingly concerned about fuel costs, college tuition, the war in Iraq and the federal deficit. ...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sweeney's Weak Response

More contrasts: Gillibrand wants to let the goverment to do what any business could - negotiate for bulk purchases to bring drug costs down for seniors. Sweeney said like Gillibrand he's behind extending the deadline for seniors. But he's not fixing the flaws that made "Medicare Reform" a give-away to drug companies that supported his campaign. Sweeney's taken over $25,000 from big pharma companies and supports bills that favor them not us.

This is another one where you're too little, too late and too bad, Mr. "Representative"

From the Post Star on 5/16/06

Democratic congressional candidate Kirsten Gillibrand on Monday called for changes to the Medicare prescription drug benefit for senior citizens. The federal government should be allowed to negotiate prescription prices directly with drug companies, as the government already does with prescriptions for veterans, she said. "There's already a fairly good model," Gillibrand said in a telephone interview. Gillibrand also called for allowing drugs to be reimported from Canada and for reducing out of pocket expenses for recipients. "We should really change the plan. It needs to be revised and reformed," she said. Earlier on Monday Gillibrand held a press conference on the issue at a senior citizen's center in Ghent, in Columbia County. Monday was the deadline for senior citizens to enroll in the program without penalties. Gillibrand said the dealine should be extended to December 31. Gillibrand is one of four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park. In a press release last week Sweeney's office said the congressman cosponsored legislation to extend the May 15 deadline.


The National Journal has moved the 20th District up on their list of competitive house races. We're now 24th up from 37:
Sweeney's gotten poor publicity lately, and he's facing a candidate with connections to Hillary's fundraising machine. He hasn't dealt with a serious challenge since first elected, and he's showing some early rustiness.
Said connected candidate is of course, Kirsten. She's also been doing what it takes to get us folks within her district supporting her campaign.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Not about the Pretty Face

Let's talk about something else from today's Times Union editorial "Scared, Mr. Sweeney"

So there was Rep. John Sweeney, talking to the Troy Record about his race for re-election this fall and clearly missing the irony of his own words. ... listen to what he has to say about his likely Democratic opponent, Kirsten Gillibrand. Who's the desperate one?

"You can't take a resume and a pretty face from New York City and say to people this is good for you simply because we can spend a lot of money and raise a lot of money," Mr. Sweeney said.

Only Ms. Gillibrand is originally from Albany, where she learned a lesson or two about politics from her grandmother, Dorothea "Polly" Noonan. She now lives in Hudson, though she has previously lived in New York City.

...this isn't about geography. It's about dignity and maturity and not dismissing a political challenger with a sexist-sounding remark that should be obsolete by more contemporary standards. That sort of talk might be OK at, say, a fraternity party, like the one Mr. Sweeney recently attended. But not in a congressional campaign. ...

Let's just leave the "pretty face" remark aside - I'm sure John Sweeney knows that his opponent is from Albany, just like he knows that he's from Troy.

Sadly, the incumbent will lie to us in order to distort reality. Though Sweeney tries to distance himself from the Bush administration these days, touting misinformation instead of truth is another page right out of the Rove-Bush playbook.

Mr. Sweeney fears that just as it doesn't matter to voters today that he's from Troy, it won't matter in November that Gillibrand is from Albany.

What does matter to us is that she has the right priorities and she has what it takes to deliver.

Unlike her opponent who first claims he's clearing the "cloud of scandal" and the next day is resorting with Lobbyists, and the day after that voting for a toothless "reform" bill.

The American people have had it with politicans who say one thing and do another. We are sick of "leaders" who are in lie about basic facts. What we need is real change right now.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Round Up

The Times Union Blog mentioned the Move On event at John Sweeney's office coming up tomorrow. For more details or to RSVP go to Move On.

And Swing State covered Sweeney's rude remarks about his opponent being "a resume and a pretty face"

No wonder our "representative" is back in DC this week.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Strategy Smear

A new Post Star story notes the smear strategy John Sweeney and the Republican Machine in this race:

Republicans in the 20th Congressional District are clearly taking Gillibrand's campaign seriously, said Robert Turner, a political science professor at Skidmore College.

"They are, in the words of one Republican consultant I talked to, 'going to take out their (Democrats) legs early,'" he said.

That strategy is apparent from the way Republicans have made repeated attacks on Gillibrand's family and law firm, Turner said.

Ha! It is a pretty silly strategy to begin with: Oh no, a well funded candidate, she's smart and people like her, and she's raising enough money to actually win! What can should we do? Hey, let's attack her family and job!

And it is an especially stupid strategy when your own candidate's behavior leaves a lot to be desired in the morals department. And not to mention that your candidate's son leaves other people with long term vision problems and $18,000 medical bills.

Well, to Mr. Sweeney's credit, attacking Gillibrand's father/brother/employment are the only dull objects in his bag of tricks.

Here are a few Dont's:

announce campaign,

treat opponent with respect,

offer any plans for exiting Iraw war or ethics reform,

pay for your thank you presents to staff and good friends - that's what tax payers are for, silly!

And a few Do's:

Great PR moments like pump Bush's issue of steroids in baseball (because that tops our list of problems to solve! gas prices would drop, jobs would come back home, the war with Iraq would end if only the Texas Rangers were safe from drugs) by showing up drunk. At a frat house.

And learn from Bush: Promise one thing (like to "remove the cloud of scandal"), but deliver a failure.

Be honest: tell them why he voted against all those fraud and renewable energy bills: "because he felt it did not do enough".

Stand behind that great voting record!

Get away from it all with the people you love.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Well, if you put it that way, John

Sweeney's Spinner explains the congressman's vote for sham-form instead of reform honestly. Why did Sweeney vote against the Democratic Bill that offered real lobbyist reform?

...it was loaded with "poison pills" intended to make Republicans defeat it.

and besides:

"Sweeney didn't feel pressured to be seen supporting lobbying reform"

Really, after all the hoopla over his Utah Lobbyist Ski Trip? Or the tax-payer funded fantasy camp for staff, lobbyists and donors in Lake Placid? No pressure?

And "poison pills"!?!

Like the kind that would mean you couldn't go on vacations with lobbyists anymore, Mr. Sweeney?

More on the sham-form vote

John Sweeney can't hide from yet another vote that shows the people in this district that his priorities are not the ones we have. House Republicans are giving us more of the business as usual and selling it as reform. Sweeney and his party pee on our leg and then tell us it is raining when they write and vote for bills like the one passed last week. Today's Times Union concludes:

Yet here's House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, insisting that the result will be "a Congress that is more responsible and more accountable to the people it represents."

Where do these politicians go, and whom do they pay, to learn how to say such things with straight faces?

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Monroe County, is too kind when she calls the House lobbying reform bill a sham.

Now, it's up to congressional negotiators to reconcile the differences between the bad Senate bill and the worse House bill. What a depressing exercise in -- it's hard to even say the word here -- democracy. It was only a few months ago that members of the House and Senate alike promising genuine reform in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal.

It's well worth noting, finally, how the Capital Region's representatives voted. Rep. Michael McNulty, D-Green Island, opposed the bill. But Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, was in favor of it.

Talk about a campaign issue come the November elections.

The Gillibrand Ethics IOU and her updated Sunshine Report are available online here.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

NRCC and Advice for Sweeney

In a funny twist, on Friday, the National Republican Congressional Committee spent some time browsing this blog. (Thanks for caring about what we think, even if is too little too late nationals!)

And also on Friday, The Post Star published the following commentary on their efforts at "Saving the Sweeney Campaign"

The House majority leader, John Boehner of Ohio, is offering campaign help to representatives, like our own John Sweeney, who have been targeted by Democrats as vulnerable.

I don't know what Mr. Boehner will say to Mr. Sweeney, but I can imagine:

Boehner: Hello John.

Sweeney:Boehner, baby!

Boehner: Uh, John, I'm here to talk about your campaign.

Sweeney: Great, great. Hey, would you like a drink?

Boehner: It's 9 a.m.

Sweeney: Not booze, my friend, just juice. Hey, did you know my top aide used to run an all-nude juice bar?

Boehner: You might want to not mention that, John.

Sweeney: He had to quit, poor guy, because of the swill-sucking media.

Boehner: You know, John, you might try to be friendlier with reporters.

Sweeney: Are you kidding? They can kiss my inflamed blood vessels.

Boehner: You haven't been getting much good press lately, John.

Sweeney: Yeah. They don't seem to care that I'm a sick man.

Boehner: They do seem to be kicking you while you're down.

Sweeney: You should ask my son about that. But you're right. I've got vasculitis and all the newspapers care about is my preference for frat parties.

Boehner: Maybe frat parties aren't the best place for you right now, John. Do you like bridge? Or knitting?

Sweeney: I wasn't doing anything at that frat party that I wouldn't do every night in my own home.

Boehner: That might not be the best way to put it, John.

Sweeney: I like young people, darn it. I like the way they drink ... I mean think.

Boehner: Now that's what I mean, John.

Sweeney: What?

Boehner: You've got to be more careful about what you say and do.

Sweeney: I am careful. Ever since I took out that power line in Easton and stranded skiers on the chairlift at Willard Mountain where I'd been skiing and drinking a little wine and ....

Boehner: Stop, John, just stop.

Sweeney: What's the matter, Beanie? Don't you like skiing?

Boehner: We've got a lot of work to do, John.

Sweeney: Really? On what?

Boehner: Look, this is going to take some time. Maybe I should fly up sometime when you're back in New York and we can meet somewhere for lunch.

Sweeney: OK. I know this great place in Schenectady -- Geppetto's Bar. Fantastic strombolis.

Boehner: A bar might not be the best place under the circumstances.

Sweeney: The vasculitis isn't that bad.

Boehner: It's your reputation I'm thinking about.

Sweeney (laughing): Reputation? You've gotta lighten up, Beanie. Besides, if I don't go to bars, where am I going to find people to vote for me?

Boehner: You've got a point there, John.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Sweeney Protest Monday

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sweeney Supports Sham-form

Just a warning that Sweeney's Spinners are going to tell us all he's an ethics reformer (in spite of voting to lower ethics standards for the Save Tom DeLay bill) because of this sham of a reform bill that he voted for which does not provide any real reform. See Kill this Bill in the WPost for more:

At best the bill would marginally improve the existing arrangement of minimal disclosure, laxly enforced. Reporting by lobbyists would be quarterly instead of twice yearly and slightly more detailed (with listings of lobbyists' campaign contributions -- already available elsewhere -- along with gifts to lawmakers and contributions to their charities). Nothing would crimp lawmakers' lifestyles: Still allowed would be meals, gifts (skybox seats at sporting events, say) and cut-rate flights on corporate jets. Privately sponsored travel would be suspended, but only until just after the election.

The provisions on earmarks are similarly feeble.

Shucks, looks like we'll just have to un-elect Sweeney in order to stop sending him on vacations with lobbyists.

Even Rs see the writing on the wall:

Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.). "I happen to believe we are losing our moral authority to lead this place," Mr. Shays said on the House floor last week. He was generous not to have put that in the past tense.

Grassroots for Gillibrand

The Grassroots group DFA has included Gillibrand in their list of candidates and has raised $7,695.00 from 185 contributors so far. Here is the DFA page which says:

It's hard to imagine a Congressman more embarrassing than John Sweeney of the New York 20th Congressional District. In addition to voting in lock-step with President Bush, enjoying ski trips with lobbyists, accepting thousands of dollars from Tom DeLay, and partying at college fraternity houses on the weekends, John Sweeney's found time to try to privatize Social Security and give away billions to the oil industry.

Thankfully, DFA candidate Kirsten Gillibrand is everything that Sweeney is not. She's smart, ethical and will represent Upstate New Yorkers with the honor and dignity they deserve. Let's help Kirsten bring dignity back to DC.

Some, like this person who doesn't even live in our district are unhappy about grassroots activists helping candidates across the country. He says: "Granted, I want Sweeney out as much as anyone else, but I find it distrubing that people from Wisonsin are coming to my backyard and telling my neighbors why they support a candidate who is running for office in place where they have no property, no roots, etc etc."

Well, I do live here and I'd rather have individuals from around the country help the candidate I support so that we can beat this incumbent. We all have a stake in turning congress around. We must take the majority party out of power so that we can restore checks and balances in government and put the failures of the "Republican Revolution" behind us this November.

(Which failures? The culture of corruption, the nation building war with no exit strategy, the most bloated federal government ever, the record breaking national debt, the expanded influence of lobbyists, the abandoning of fiscal responsibility, the increased pork projects, combined with doing nothing to address skyrocketing expenses for the things we need, like gas, health care, education for our children.)

The DFA funds to the Gillibrand campaign come from average citizens unlike the money from around the country coming to Sweeney from Lobbyists in Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington DC. (Also see this earlier post)

These are also not funds from big corporations who seem to be able to (cheaply) buy legislation they want, like this.

So here's a newsflash for our myspace neighbor: DFA did not start outside money coming into politics. All DFA does is give average citizens a chance to offset at least some of the lobbyist and mega-corporate influences in Congress now. And if that helps bring about changes like this, then we all win.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Gee, ya think?

A writer asks The Fix, "Do you think that Rep. Sweeney's frat party scandal will have an impact on his race? I read on a blog that a local paper called on him to apologize to his constituents."

(I think we're the local blog because we posted that story here. Yay us! But maybe others did too so I won't get carried away with this.)

At any rate TF says it "won't to help him in his race against Kirsten Gillibrand (D)" but doesn't know if it will hurt.

I'd disagree with that. Though the event didn't happen in our district (what difference if it was here, there or in Utah?), it was not responsible and it isn't going to help. Which means yes, it will hurt. I don't see how it could have no effect at all on the race.

The TU blog also covered TFs comment.

Sweeney Lost a Supporter

The SEIU has endorsed Kirsten Gillibrand. Today's Post Star reports that:

SEIU's endorsement of Gillibrand, however, marks a loss of one of Sweeney's traditional supporters.

The union's national organization has previously contributed $22,500 to Sweeney's re-election campaigns since 2000, according to campaign finance reports on file with the Federal Election Commission. Its most recent contribution to Sweeney was $2,500 in 2004.

Cunningham said the union changed its allegiance in part because of President Bush's efforts to reduce federal funding for health care. Bush has said reductions are necessary to slow down growth of federal spending.

"I think there is a great concern about the direction the current administration is taking the country, particularly on health care," Cunningham said.

Sweeney voted against the latest round of cuts in the federal budget, but had previously voted for them, Cunningham said.

Sweeney would not address the union's criticism directly, said his spokeswoman Melissa Carlson.

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bent on holding a majority

Just remember when Sweeney Spinners claims he is independent, it is because the house leadership is "letting" him. Why? So they can keep their majority. Power is what matters most to them. From this New York Times Story:

Republican leaders, bent on holding a majority, are getting behind their incumbents aggressively even as they let them put some distance between themselves and the national party, political analysts monitoring these races say. ...

Even Democrats concede that it is hard to imagine how their party could reduce a Republican majority without gains in Connecticut and New York, where Democrats are mounting competitive challenges against two prominent Republican incumbents, John E. Sweeney in the 20th District in the Albany region and James T. Walsh in the 25th District in the Syracuse region.

The threat that independent analysts say Mr. Sweeney faces is something of a surprise, since he represents a district where registered Republicans roughly outnumber Democrats, 200,000 to 100,000, with about 100,000 independents. In fact, Mr. Sweeney won re-election with 66 percent of the vote in 2004, while President Bush won the district with 54 percent of the vote.

But the Democrat seeking to unseat him, Kirsten Gillibrand, a lawyer, is counting on what she describes as the disenchantment of certain traditional Sweeney supporters — chiefly independents and moderate Republicans — with the direction of the nation. In that context, she has aggressively sought to tie Mr. Sweeney to Republican leaders in Congress and the Bush White House.

"I think John Sweeney is in trouble because he is not independent and he is not standing up to the administration," Ms. Gillibrand said. "The climate with voters in the district, whether they are Republicans, Democrats or independents, is they want a change in leadership."

By most appearances, her strategy has placed Mr. Sweeney on the defensive. The Sweeney camp maintains that he has always exercised independence in Washington. "He works with leadership to bring what needs to his district and he opposes leadership when their policies hurt upstate New York," said Melissa Carlson, a Sweeney spokeswoman. ...

Except that with a Republican majority, even when Sweeney opposes the administration, the policies that hurt upstate New York are still swept into law. What this country needs is a majority party that is not beholden to this administration. Until that happens token votes against an occasional bill which passes anyway is the best "representing" we're going to get.

And I say that's just not good enough.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Just Say You're Sorry, John

The Post Star has an Op-Ed about Sweeney's recent Old School Frat Boy Friday. They call on Sweeney to apologize to his constituents. Though let's not hold our breath or anything. I have a feeling that the inability to admit he's wrong and/or accepting responsibility for his mistakes is another trait that Sweeney has in common with W. Read the full story here. The shorter version:

It's not so much what Congressman John Sweeney was drinking.

It's more a matter of, "What was he thinking?" Whether the congressman was having a frank discussion with young constituents about steroids in baseball or pounding a couple of Keystones with the boys is beside the point. ... there's simply no plausible reason why he -- or any other 50-year-old guy, for that matter -- should have placed himself in that position. ...none of this could have happened without the congressman willingly putting himself in a questionable place at a questionable time with a questionable crowd.

In his second-day explanation, he seemed to put the blame for his bad judgment on a friend who persuaded him to visit the frat house that night. On an action so obviously ill-advised, one would expect our congressman would be able to think and respond appropriately on his own.

How about this for a response: "I'm sorry, my friend. But I'm sure you could understand how it would look for a U.S. congressman to be seen visiting a frat house party at 1 in the morning. If the kids would like to meet me and talk about issues, I'd be glad to chat with them at the student center on Monday morning." ... On the heels of Sweeney's memorable ski weekend in Utah with lobbyists and a report released Thursday saying that Democrats are already salivating over their prospects of reclaiming this congressional seat, this incident couldn't have come at a worse time for Sweeney or Republicans. The congressman owes his constituents more than an explanation. He owes them an apology.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Exiting Iraq

The War in Iraq: A Successful Exit Strategy and Securing Our Future By Kirsten Gillibrand. Read it here.

Hot off the presses

Someone's selling "I Got Ripped with John Sweeney" gear at Cafepress.

Changing of the Guards

The Bard Observer Endorses Gillibrand.

Time For A Changing of the Guard

The accolades and atrocities of John Sweeny place him in an echelon that greatly exceeds the cult of pedestrian right-wing bullies and blowhards in Congress. In his six years in as Bard’s Representative, Sweeny has distinguished himself by essentially inciting an anti-recount riot during the 2000 presidential election fiasco in Florida, and by acting as a reliable vote in favor of the most noxious conservative policy ideas of recent years. Congresspeople like Sweeney, devoid of real leadership merit but craven for power, are the people who’ve made America’s current fascination with the extreme right possible. When Tom Delay and Karl Rove need votes, they call on henchmen like Sweeney to do their bidding.

Unfortunately, it’s long looked as if Sweeney’s place in Congress was invulnerable to opposition. It’s often repeated that the 20th District, of which Bard is a part, can count 70% of its population as Republican. And the most recent Democratic candidates haven’t exactly given voters a reason to change Representatives. While well-intentioned, these candidates have lacked the political fiber upon which a successful opposition campaign must be mounted. To win an election in a district where the odds are stacked heavily against you, you need to be a great candidate who runs a great campaign. This year, such a candidate is in the election. The candidacy of Kirstin Gillibrand represents the best hope for change in the 20th District.

Gillibrand is an upstate New York Democrat, meaning that she couples a brand of economic liberalism with a more traditional approach to social and cultural issues. In a recent interview with the local Post Star, Gillibrand cited Sweeney’s opposition to minimum wage increases as one of the central reasons for her candidacy. Coupled with his undue support of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), she believes that voters have a powerful mandate to reject him at the voting booths. . She’s emphatically “pro-second Amendment,” and while she hasn’t given a rousing endorsement of the Iraq war, her refusal to condemn it has compelled an anti-war candidate, Doug Walters, to enter into the race.

The experience and quality of Gillibrand’s campaign will make her a viable candidate through Election Day. Her financial support is comparable to Sweeny’s, and her campaign operations have focused on turning an unfavorable demographic in her favor. Eliot Spitzer has already stopped by to offer his vocal and powerful endorsement.

Not everything about Gillibrand will sit well with progressive students, however. For one, she’s close with the Albany lobbying community. While this means that she’ll be able to run a competitive, well-funded campaign, it nonetheless raises questions about to whom she would be beholden if elected. It also raises basic questions about democratic fairness: Is she competitive because she’s a strong potential Congressperson, or because she’s well-connected?

While the Observer expects that the former will eventually be proven true, in order for this to happen, Gillibrand must first defeat John Sweeney at the polls. To this end, The Observer offers its full and unwavering endorsement of Kirstin Gillibrand in her effort to win the Congressional seat of New York’s 20th District.