Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Waffling Sue...

As we noted in December, Sue voted not just once, but twice on a punitive anti-immigration bill that would not only erect a giant fence along the border with Mexico, but would also force tens of thousands of young children born in this country to illegal immigrants to become state wards (can you say tax hike?) when their parents are sent back to whatever country they came from.

Students and clergy, not to mention Hispanics, are up-in-arms over the version of the bill Sue signed her name to. So what does Sue do? Waffle, big-time! With extra syrup. Here's what her designated hitter told the Times Herald-Record yesterday:

Kelly spokesman Kevin Callahan said the congresswoman didn't support all the provisions in the bill. "She supported it as a first step toward addressing the illegal immigration problem and better enforcing our laws," Callahan said.

So let's get this straight: Sue voted for the legislation twice, but now she doesn't agree with pieces of it? And, if that's the case, which specific pieces does she have a problem with and why didn't she raise her concerns back in December, before she voted?

To paraphrase Tom Friedman's so-called Pottery Barn rule here, You vote it, you own it. After all, waffles really only taste good at breakfast!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


A gentle nudge?

So we learn, via a letter on Jeff Cook's site that Cook has decided not to challenge Sue in a Republican primary this fall. We're sure it had absolutely nothing to do with the Republican party pushing him out of the race or with the fact that Log Cabin Republicans, an organization where Cook worked as national field director, were worried that supporting him would only weaken Sue. What was surprising, however, was a quote in this brief that ran in the Times Herald-Record:

"She's the only candidate that supports small government," Cook said. "In a year like this, Republicans need to really rally around our candidate."

Are we talking about the same person? We don't think so. After all, Kelly has voted repeatedly to expand the federal deficit while at the same time voting to cut vital services, like federal student loans, for people in the district. But don't take our word for it. After all, we're the opposition. Read here what some folks -- bona-fide conservatives on -- think about Sue. We particularly liked this comment:

He (Cook) has the advantage of opposing the dimmest bulb of the NYS Republican delegation. Ten years in office and I could barely even remember what she has done, aside from warm up a back bench.

In his own polling, Cook found that Kelly's favorable rating by her own constituents was a meager 41% and that she's 22 points behind President Bush - a pretty scary place -- amongst likely Republican voters. So is it any real surprise that Cook has decided not to run? The only real question is: who pushed him?

Sunday, March 26, 2006



We wish we were clever enough to add music to our posts. So you'll just have to imagine the Eagles singing Desperado in the background as you read this. Why? Because Sue Kelly, whose spokesman, Kevin Callahan keeps insisting that she's not yet campaigning, has invited Sen. John McCain to a $500 a plate dinner next Saturday at Le Chambord, a fancy French restaurant and inn in Hopewell Junction. What a delicious coincidence that next Saturday also happens to be April Fool's Day!

While we can understand why Sue wants to bask in McCain's aura, we're not quite sure why McCain is volunteering to raise money for Sue. After all, Sue was one of a handful of New York Republicans to vote against McCain's signature piece of legislation, the McCain-Feingold campaign reform bill back in February 2002. The legislation passed anyway, no thanks to Sue.

But here's the real question: if Sue isn't campaigning yet, why is McCain coming to NY-19 seven months before the election? And, perhaps more importantly, will Freedom Fries be on the menu?

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Hard at work?

With Congress off this past week for St. Patrick's Day -- remember: this was Congress' second week-long vacation since returning from their six-week holiday recess on Jan. 31 -- Sue was determined to show that she's really hard at work. As she flitted around the district in her Chevy Tahoe that we're all paying for, Take19ers were there to greet her.

One Take19er, who happens to be a registered Republican, attended her tax information workshop at Marist College on Thursday, though there wasn't much work (or even useful information) to be had there. Nor did many people even bother to show up. Still, Sue got some face time on Cablevision, which is all that really matters, anyway. After all, doing something isn't nearly as important as looking like you're doing something. Says the observer: "Other than smiling for the cameras, Sue was fairly mute. And it dawned on me how inappropriate it is for a Congressperson to be barnstorming across her district with an employee of the IRS for photo opts at a function set up solely for that purpose."

Another Take19er was there on Wednesday, when Sue attended a meeting that the local media said she had set up with Homeland Security officials over concerns at Indian Point. Though the meeting was closed to the public, this observer was unimpressed with Sue's contributions. Still, once again, nothing actually needs to get done as long as it looks like something is getting done. And using that methodology, Sue clearly scored with this article and accompanying picture. Notice Sue's look of concern.

Finally, on Friday, Sue hosted another tax workshop at Heritage Hills in Somers. A Take19er who attended and asked Sue what she described as a relatively simple question was unimpressed with Sue's answer.

Three different people. Three different events. All came away with the same impression of Sue: lots of talk, lots of furrowed brows for the cameras. But never any real results. Don't the people of the 19th deserve better?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Time For A Civics Lesson, Sue?

We've got a question for you, Sue.

Is this what we should be teaching our children about how the government works, or is this a bob and weave on the part of the congressional majority and the Administration?

It seems the president has signed a bill into law that wasn't passed by Congress, and you and your Bush enabling colleagues have said, "No problem. It's law as far as we're concerned."

Spending Measure Not a Law, Suit Says
Senate, House Versions Are Different

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

For anyone who took fifth-grade social studies or sang "I'm Just a Bill," how legislation turns to law always seemed pretty simple: The House passes a bill, the Senate passes the same bill, the president signs it.

"He signed ya, Bill -- now you're a law," shouts the cartoon lawmaker on "Schoolhouse Rock" as Bill acknowledges the cheers.

But last month, Washington threw all that old-fashioned civics stuff into a tizzy, when President Bush signed into law a bill that actually never passed the House. Bill -- in this case, a major budget-cutting measure that will affect millions of Americans -- became a law because it was "certified" by the leaders of the House and Senate.

We suggest everyone read the entire article and see this if you can make heads or tails of this constitutional tap dance. Maybe we can turn to our congresswoman for some clarification.

Help us out here, Sue. How can this be? Do you really believe that a $2 billion dollar mistake is nothing to get all concerned about...or is it simply that you all don't want to have to recast your votes to cut aid for students, the poor and the elderly during an election year...a vote that squeaked by last time with your proud "Yay" putting it over the top?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Any regrets, Sue?

A year ago today, Congress voted to butt in where it didn't belong: an individual family's private suffering. Embarrassing us all, Sue went down to DC late at night to cast her vote to get involved in Terri Schiavo's personal tragedy. The vote was taken at 12:45 in the morning, a time when we'd normally assume Sue was busy sleeping (unless she's a secret Jimmy Kimmel fan).

Over the past year, a number of politicians, including Sen. Bill Frist, who infamously diagnosed Terri Schiavo on the floor of the US Senate after watching a video, and Senator Mel Martinez, whose staff called the Schiavo suffering "a great political issue", have said they were wrong for getting involved. But Sue has remained silent. So we're asking Sue today, on this anniversary: Do you regret your vote last year? If you had the chance to do it over again, would you take the same vote now?

To be sure, end-of-life issues are incredibly difficult and fraught with emotion. But they're decisions that need to be made by the family in consultation with the patient's physicians. They should never become political fodder for the House of Representatives. We think that it's time for Sue to apologize to the people of the 19th for her vote last year. Why not give her a call today (202-225-5441) or send her a fax (202-225-3289) to let her know you haven't forgotten?

Take19 Press Release

Monday, March 20, 2006


Congratulations, Representative Kelly! you and your right-wing cohorts for raising the debt limit to $9,000,000,000,000.00. Quite an accomplishment...especially from a group that has traditionally run on fiscal restraint and smaller government.

Didn't you all inherit a surplus of $87 billion in 2000 from Bill Clinton? Doubly impressive!

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Sue hearts Halliburton...

Ah, spring...when Congress' thoughts turn to love. And what better way to show just how big their hearts are then by planting a big sloppy wet one right on Halliburton's lips? We speak, of course, of this vote on Thursday, which basically said the Republican-controlled Congress is A-OK with companies that rip off taxpayers. Though 11 Republicans crossed party lines and voted to limit future contracts to Halliburton, Sue's vote once again shows that she's pro-graft and corruption. Oddly enough, Sue's vote was taken on the same day that this story broke about how a Halliburton subsidiary failed to purify water for the troops in Iraq. Guess that like GW Bush, Sue and her fellow hacks don't spend much time reading the news, either.

Now what could possibly prompt Sue to vote against putting limits on Halliburton? Hmmm..let's think about this for a millisecond. Could it be money? Bingo! The NRCC, which gives money to Sue's campaign, is flush with Halliburton cash. Ditto for Roy Blount's Rely on Your Beliefs PAC, which has given $5,000 to Sue during the 2006 cycle.

Don't the people in the 19th deserve someone better than a Congresswoman who does Halliburton's bidding?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Flip, Flop...Flip. Sue against, then for, and now, once again, against Port Security

For the past four and one half years, Sue has consistently voted against measures to make our ports more secure. Then, when the Dubai Ports deal hit the fan, she jumped Bush's ship and hopped on the political bandwagon along with the rest of her right wing friends, and slapped the President on the wrist.

Well, It's back to business-as-usual.

WASHINGTON Mar 15, 2006 (AP)--Republicans blocked a Democratic effort Wednesday to force House votes on expanding government scrutiny of foreign investments, the latest fallout from a Dubai-owned company's failed bid to run some U.S. port operations.


In both the House and Senate, Democrats have long pushed for more money for ports only to have the Republican-controlled Congress reject their efforts, largely along party lines.

Is it time to vote for making those tax cuts for the top 1% permanent? Bet Sue'll be on board with that one.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Just Asking Again...

...when are you going to return it, Sue?


Sue's Unlabeled Cake And Eating It, Too: UPDATE

The saga about Sue's vote against the National Uniformity for Food Act gets curiouser. One of our members contacted Sue concerning the bill and Sue responded with the following letter (name removed to protect the guilty):

Dear _________________:

Thank you for contacting me to express your concern over the National Uniformity for Food Act of 2005. I appreciate having the opportunity to respond to your views.

I voted against the bill out of my concern with some important issues that were not resolved during floor consideration. As you may already know, this legislation seeks to put in place a measured, science based approach for establishing a single nationwide system that would integrate existing state and federal laws for all food safety standards and warning labels. While this is an important objective, it must be done in a way that ensures existing safeguards are not undermined. I feel the absence of any Congressional hearings on this matter and the failure of some important amendments on the House floor, resulted in a final bill that was not in the best interests of my constituents. While I voted against this measure, it was passed by a majority vote. Please know that I will continue to work on this issue so that important protections are not undermined.

I will be sure to keep your concerns in mind. Once again, thank you for contacting me.

Sue Kelly
Member of Congress

But, co-sponsored this bill!!! You are one of the Congress members who brought this bill to the floor. If you were so concerned about its flaws why did you put your name on it...and if it was so flawed, why didn't you offer any amendments to make it workable?

We note in your letter that the bill passed in spite of your opposition, and we can't help but think this is yet another famous Sue Kelly political flip flop vote that only seems to occur when outragous bills are assured of passage...when it's safe to show your constituents how "concerned about their well being" you are. But, when the votes are close, you always seem to be there for Tom Delay and Dennis Hastert to put them over the top, constituents be damned. See A Matter of Trust for some perfect examples.

Again, we ask:

"Why did you cast a vote against a bill you co-sponsored and brought to the floor of the House... a bill that was virtually unchanged since it was introduced (by you and others) and a bill to which you offered no amendments?"

Monday, March 13, 2006


...And Sue is Bragging About This?

On March 8, Sue boasted via a press release, that a piece of her legislation finally passed, albeit as an attachment to "a larger financial services regulatory bill."

The release and a subsequent PoJo article concerning the passage described a tool with which to "crack down on foreign countries that fail to stop terrorist financing networks."

Well, ya gotta love that action language..."crack down." However, as often is the case with Sue Kelly's homespun spin, there's no teeth in her legislative bite.

A closer look at what this attachment shows that there is no there there. This bill simply requires that the Treasury Dept. report to Congress annually "which foreign countries are not enforcing laws against money laundering and terror finance."

Couple of questions here. The most immediate would be:

"If Congress and the administration were doing their jobs concerning oversight, would this toothless legislation be necessary?" In the post 9/11 world, stronger legislation than this should have been a top priority beginning on 9/12...and here it is, four and a half years later, and Sockpuppet Sue gets an attachment to a large bill that finally acknowledges this as a potential problem? Good morning, Sue and Congress. Nice of you to finally WAKE UP!

Another question jumps out:

"What are the penalties for non-compliance of these undescribed laws?" The attachment stops way short of punishment. As a matter of fact, it stops short of minimally requiring Treasury to report directly to the public. It only requires them to report to Congress, and judging how effective the House and Senate have been with oversight duties in the past five years, we can guess where the information will end up, especially if the information isn't PAC donation friendly.

So, what we have here is...Sue and the far right majority in Congress waited four and a half years to pass a toothless attachment to a finanical services bill concerning an issue that should have been dealt with BEFORE two planes flew into the WTC and another into the pentagon on September 11, 2001.

And she is bragging about it?

Once again, Sue is 1,645 days late and millions of dollars short when it comes to National Security.


As myh has pointed out in the comments that there may be a "punishment" hiden in this attachment. Let's have a look:

"If this proposal were made law and a report is, for some reason, filed by Treasury, there is, theoretically, a monetary sanction if this is a unilateral loan by the US, and provision for objecting to the loan if it is multilateral.

But wait! - all that can be overruled if the Executive branch says the country is “trying” to comply with the treaty, and also if the President says “Gee, we know this government is financing terrorism but we really like these folks and don’t want to mess with them, so, heh, heh, let's just not get crazy here an do anything bad to these nice people.” (No lie, the statute permits this - a country can be violating a multinational treaty by financing terrorism, and the President can say - don't apply the law to that country.)"

The President can be overruled by a Joint resolution of Congress (how many times is that going to happen with the President’s party controlling both houses) within 30 days (when has Congress ever acted that swiftly anyway). But even if Congress did overrule the President, the Secretary of Treasury could decide that, after all, the country is trying to comply, so let's not sanction them.

So it would end up as the Treasury Department's decision where the entire process began. Nice legislative circle. I stand by my initial read that there is no "penalty" phase to this bill at all.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Kelly Against Port Security Before She Was For It


While Rep. Sue Kelly attempted to bolster her port security credentials by coming out against the plan for a Dubai company to control New York’s ports, Take19 took her to task today for voting against increased port security funding and tighter standards of securing the nation’s ports just last year.

"If Kelly cares so much about securing the ports, why didn’t she support the amendment HR 1817?" asked Take19 spokesperson Michael Morey. "Port security is the gaping hole in our national security. When Sue Kelly had a chance to do something about it – she said no."

“It’s nice that Sue Kelly has jumped on the bandwagon this election cycle," said Take19 member Susan Spear, “But the truth is that when it really counted, Sue Kelly let her constituents down by voting against increased funding and standards for securing our ports. She needs to explain that discrepancy to the voters.”

Kelly voted last year against an amendment [HR 1817, Roll Call #187, 5/18/05] that would have increased port security funding and tightened security standards at the port; Kelly voted instead for the White House’s plan that included less money and excluded the standards. Specifically:

• The Homeland Security Authorization proposal that Kelly voted against would have committed $41 billion to securing the nation from terrorist threats - $6.9 billion more than the President’s budget which Kelly supported.

• The proposal Kelly opposed called for an additional $400 million in funding for port security, including $13 million to double the number of new overseas port inspectors provided for in the President’s budget.

• The proposal addressed the holes in securing the nation’s ports by requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop container security standards, integrate container security pilot projects, and examine ways to integrate container inspection equipment and data. Currently DHS has three very similar container security pilot projects that are not coordinated in any fashion, resulting in wasted money and redundant efforts.

• Finally, the plan required DHS to conduct a study of the risk factors associated with the port of Miami and ports in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, including the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This alternative plan, voted against by Kelly, failed 196-230. [HR 1817, Roll Call #187, 5/18/05; Committee on Homeland Security Minority Office.

"It appears Sue Kelly does what she's told to by her right-wing bosses," said Audrey Molsky, Take19 member and small business owner from Dutchess County. "We deserve a member of Congress who will represent our interests and not the
interests of greedy corporations and corrupt lobbyists."


Having her unlabeled cake and eating it, too

It seems Sue Kelly sponsored a bill before she voted against it. (can you say, "Flip, Flop?")

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's begin with yet another awful bill brought to the floor of the House that passed at the behest of the large food packaging and producing companies. (Nothing new to that part of the story.)

Last evening, something called the National Uniformity for Food Act passed the House and is now on its way to the Senate. Now, I don't need to tell you that the bill doesn't really have anything to do with uniformity for food, do I? Let's see what the AP has to say bout this two-faced piece of legislation:

The House voted Wednesday to strip many warnings from food labels, potentially affecting alerts about arsenic in bottled water, lead in candy and allergy-causing sulfites, among others.

Pushed by food companies seeking uniform labels across state lines, the bill would prevent states from adding food warnings that go beyond federal law. States could petition the Food and Drug Administration to add extra warnings, under the bill.


The government would spend at least $100 million to answer petitions for tougher state rules, according to CBO.


About a dozen states have safety and labeling rules for fish. In California, white signs with "WARNING" in red letters tells grocery shoppers about high mercury levels in certain fish. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., displayed the placard during debate Wednesday on the House floor.

Eshoo noted the bill's supporters have personal ties to food industry lobbyists.

"This is not about consumers. This is about special interests," she said.

Okay, a disingenuous piece of legislation that in the name of uniformity wants to hand all labeling decisions to the FDA. The bill backers' real reason is that it's easier to put political pressure on a single federal FDA panel (especially if the panel consists of political cronies and industry leaders as has been this administration's MO recently) and receive favorable rulings than it is to do the same with 50 different state panels.

Where does our Congresswoman stand on the bill? Well, Sue Kelly is dancing a sweet little tango on this one.

Predictably, Sue Kelly was one of the co-sponsors of this bill. Okay, that makes sense. Where there's a bill that supports big business over people, Sue is usually right there on the front lines next to Tom Delay and Dennis Hastert. In order to get some Democratic backing on this bill, she voted for an amendment that would have allowed the warnings for mercury in fish to be exempted from the measure. Alright, nothing weird so far.

But, WAIT. Is there a blizzard warning in hell? Sue voted AGAINST this bill...a bill she co-sponsored?

Now, we aren't arguing with her final vote. We were against this bill and never would have co-sponsored it in the first place. This bill is an attack on consumers' right to know what they are eating and, frankly, it's an attempt to destroy the most effective labeling program in the world. BUT...Sue's actions leave us confused and one has to ask Sue:

"Why did you cast a vote against a bill you co-sponsored and brought to the floor of the House... a bill that was virtually unchanged since it was introduced (by you and others) and a bill to which you offered no amendments?"

Something is fishy about this, and unfortunately, we might need a warning label to tell us what's behind her actions.

Calls to Sue Kelly's office in Washington asking for an explaination have gone unreturned, so we are left to speculate. One can assume the change of heart can be explained one of two ways:

1). After long , hard consideration and maybe actually reading the bill (rare these days for Congressfolk as the far-right majority has suspended the three day waiting period between the introduction of a bill and the actual vote so members or staff could read what they are voting on), Congresscritter Kelly decided after long sleepless nights that she was wrong to co-sponsor the bill and has decided to finally stand up for what is right for the people of 19th District and vote NO.


2). In a cynical political move to help her in a tight re-election race back home, she waited until she saw the bill was safe for passage and then got permission from her right-wing leadership to vote NO, hoping no one would notice that she was actually a co-sponsor of the bill and call her on it.

We'll let you decide.

Monday, March 06, 2006


New York's 19th Congressional District

Since the 19th District is so large and includes parts of five, count 'em five, counties, I thought it would be a good idea to begin a series of entries about who we are and the issues that concern us. Let's start out slow with a couple of maps.

click on images to enlarge

The first thing one notices about the District is its size, and if you know anything about these counties, you know they are very diverse. From the northern NYC suburbs of Westchester to the rolling countryside of Orange county, the identity of the District is difficult to articulate. As a result, during the coming weeks, this blog will host discussions about issues that impact you and the other members of the NY 19th CD.

Take this opportunity to sign in with a blogger name, tell us where you live and say hello to your neighbors.

Welcome to the 19th!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Bill Moyers on Tom Delay and His Dirty Money

Caution: Opinion Zone Ahead

You should read the entire article here if you want to see how the present Republican Congress and power structure works. A very sad tale in itself, but it speaks to the $12,000 in Delay cash and the thousands more of Abramoff cash Sue Kelly has accepted...and the obvious reason she refuses to return it.

Pardon the extended quotes from Moyers:

Back in the first Gilded Age, Boies Penrose was a United States senator from Pennsylvania who had been put and kept in office by the railroad tycoons and oil barons. He assured the moguls: "I believe in the division of labor. You send us to Congress; we pass laws under which you make money... and out of your profits you further contribute to our campaign funds to send us back again to pass more laws to enable you to make more money."


A recent CBS News/New York Times poll found that 70% of Americans believe lobbyists bribing members of Congress is the way things work. Findings like these underscore the fact that ordinary people believe their bonds with democracy are not only stretched but sundered.


DeLay was a man on the move and on the take. But he needed help to sustain the cash flow. He found it in a fellow right wing ideologue named Jack Abramoff. Abramoff personifies the Republican money machine of which DeLay with the blessing of the House leadership was the major domo.


Some of the money went to so-called charities set up by Abramoff and DeLay that filtered money for lavish trips for members of Congress and their staff, as well as salaries for Congressional family members and DeLay's pet projects. And some of the money found its way to the righteous folks of the Christian Right.

It gets worse.

Some of Abramoff's money from lobbying went to start a non-profit organization called the U.S. Family Network. Nice name, yes? An uplifting all-American name, like so many others that fly the conservative banner in Washington. But the organization did no discernable grassroots organizing and its money came from business groups with no demonstrated interest in the "moral fitness" agenda that was the network's professed aim.

Let's call it what it was: a scam - one more cog in the money-laundering machine controlled by DeLay and Abramoff. A former top assistant founded the organization. DeLay's wife also got a sizeable salary.

Twenty five years ago Grover Norquist had said that "What Republicans need is 50 Jack Abramoffs in Washington. Then this will be a different town."

Well, they got what they needed, and the arc of the conservative takeover of government has now been completed.

If we Americans want our democracy back, we must insist that this Republican Culture of Corruption ends and ends soon. As we've seen through our examination of the FEC records in earlier posts on this blog, the limitlessless flow of PAC money with its inferred bribery is destroying representative government. This must stop before it destroys the very fabric of our unique American democracy.

To those who would say, "NYBri, they all do it," I would say, even if it were true, that is the worst reason in the world to allow it to continue. I tried that argument out with my mother when I begged for permission to get away with stuff when I was a kid. Thankfully it didn't work with her then and it shouldn't work with us now.

Unfortunately, Sue Kelly seems to be a card carrying, dues paying enabler for the inner circle of the Republican Culture of Corruption and we have a responsibility to do what WE can, in the 19th District to help end that culture's grip on our democracy.

You CAN make a difference by working and voting for a change this November, because all we need to do is look at the headlines to see how desperately we need one.

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