Sep
13

A Better Baby

By

Republicans against Heath Shuler think he’s too liberal. You heard it right. They want someone who will vote against labor. Heath votes for labor every chance he gets. They want someone who won’t address climate change. Heath voted to transform our energy economy by addressing CO2 emissions. They want someone who believes that Nancy Pelosi is an Dark Phoenix style arch-villain. It looks to me like they would prefer a candidate who will block unemployment benefits and stymie efforts to help small businesses. They’d like to have a candidate who would never vote with Democrats, while Heath votes with the Democratic Party 83.9% of the time.

I’ve made it clear that I believe Heath is as far to the left as we’re going to get in this district until some serious progressive message building happens in the rural areas. We can have a more progressive representative, but not without doing a helluva lot of work first to expand acceptance of progressive values. Understand that Republicans want to elect a candidate to Heath’s political right, and we all know there’s just not a lot of room over there for anyone even remotely acceptable to progressives.

Some think that throwing the baby out with the bathwater is going to get them a better baby someday. It’s my hope that Buncombe Democrats and left-leaning independents vote strategically and return Heath Shuler to Congress. We need to retain control of the House and Senate if we’re going to keep repairing our nation and make sure the Republicans from don’t get to draw the redistricting maps. We need a voice from our district who will stand up for labor, education, and the environment.

If you want a better baby, then get out there and start wooing voters. Because Buncombe can’t do it alone. Electing a Republican will not magically jar voters into electing a progressive next go ’round. You have only to look at sixteen years of Rep. Charles Taylor to understand that. NC11 voters didn’t rush into the arms of Patsy Keever’s progressivism in 2004, and without some hard work by NC11 progressives there’s no reason under the sun to expect they would in 2012.

Comments

  1. Tom Jones says:

    Shuler has an 86% rating from the League of Conservation Voters for his voting record in the 111th Congress. Patrick McHenry’s rating? 0. That’s a zero. Charles Taylor was also usually near zero.

    If you think Heath is just a Republican in disguise, you need to take a closer look at his voting record. On environmental and energy issues, he has a very progressive voting record. In my opinion, these are the most serious issues we face today and he has consistently voted in favor of sustainable environmental and energy legislation.

    I think its far too easy to forget how atrocious Taylor’s record was on the environment and to take for granted how much we’ve gained by having Shuler in office.

    That’s why I volunteered and worked for him (note..I’m no longer on the payroll, this is just my opinion).

  2. nathan ramsey says:

    We’re seeing in all those tv commercials that our current congressman is mad at Congress and is voting against all this stuff but then you say he votes with Pelosi 83.9% of the time to push her agenda. Seems like conflicted messaging. Say one thing to the regular folks all across WNC but something else to the base.

  3. Gordon Smith says:

    Nathan,

    Can you tell us why you’re voting for Jeff Miller?

  4. WNC Tarheel says:

    You may have noticed this is a center right nation which is also true of NC11. As bad as Charles Taylor was, having a Blue Dog Democrat like Schuler representing the district is probably the best you can hope for. Unfortunately, Obama has done a good job of showing his true political stripe and the electorate will have none of it. Better to align yourself with an electable candidate than the Patsy Keever’s in the State and try to accomplish some small victories with your progressive goals. I’m not crazy about Joe Miller but at this point, the anti incumbent tsunami may take out Schuler so I would direct your efforts to supporting him. Thanks to Dick Morris, Clinton understood what governing from the center meant and adjusted accordingly after the ’94 debacle in Congress. I don’t see an idealogue like Obama adjusting which will make him a one term president. Obama has squandered a real opportunity after ’08 because in the end, his experince as a “community organizer” was not sufficient to be President as Hillary aptly noted. NC11 is not ready for progressive candidates or their message when the electorate struggles to put food on the table and provide basics for their families. As Carville correctly noted, “It’s the economy, stupid” and voters will vote their pocketbooks first, a lesson Obama seems to have overlooked. Creating competitive wage jobs for your constituents should be the first order of business and given our regional unemployemnt picture, more service and tourism jobs will not solve that problem.

  5. brainshrub says:

    “Voting strategically” is a myth which does not exist mathematically or rationally since casting a ballot a certain way does not force others to do the same. In the long run it degrades the democratic process, polarizes the electorate, and prevents real solutions from gaining political currency.

    Ultimately the “vote strategically” argument is a tactic designed to guilt into silence those who have legitimate problems voting for a particular candidate.

    Shuler is a conservative corporate-shill who tacitly supports killing homosexuals in other countries. I will not vote for him.

    – pvh

  6. nathan ramsey says:

    Jeff Miller has a proven record of community service, and on the big issues – jobs, spending, debt, I think he is more on target that our current congressman and more closely aligned with the average person in WNC values and thoughts.

    The incumbent has mountains of cash and Miller is not wealthy so I still believe Shuler is the favorite but the race probably will be decided by a small margin. Traditionally, most of the NC-11 races are relatively close. Definitely believe Miller can win, its just tough when your opponent can run wall to wall tv, radio, etc. If the economy doesn’t improve, then all bets are off.

    Regardless of the outcome of this race, the margins will be much tighter and those in Washington are going to have to figure how to solve problems on a bipartisan basis (the way the founders set the system up, it almost demands this). Otherwise, more of them will be out of a job in ’12.

    In Jan. ’09 the dems had unprecedented majorities in Congress along with the White House, 70 plus vote margin in the House, fillibuster proof majority in the Senate and the average person, me included, doesn’t believe all this legislation passed in the last 20 months has made America better off. If November goes badly for the dems, that will be why.

    In 2006 and 2008, voters took their frustrations out at the gop for similar reasons (even though republicans didn’t control as many seats in congress and after the ’06 election, the dems controlled both house and senate).

  7. Gordon Smith says:

    Paul – We’ve been having this debate for years. Always a pleasure!

    You can have your problems with voting for him, but let’s not pretend that a Republican majority won’t do far more damage. The guilt some feel is a result of feeling culpable, not the result of those who advocate voting strategically.

  8. Lindsey Simerly says:

    The fear of bad redistricting should be enough to force any progressive, democrat, or liberal to vote for Shuler, even if they don’t love him.
    If that is too wonky, look at Miller’s issues page http://jeffmiller2010.com/about-jeff/issues/ . Anti-choice, racist, anti-environment, lifetime gun-toting member of the NRA… and that is coming straight from his own webpage. I don’t get how any Dem could allow somebody like that to win.

  9. nathan ramsey says:

    Lindsey – How can you say that Jeff Miller is a racist and anti-environment? That is certainly not the case. Don’t think you can find one shred of evidence to support those personal attacks. As far as abortion, Shuler claims to be pro life, so that is an issue that both candidates are in agreement with.

  10. nathan ramsey says:

    Civics lesson – redistricting for federal and state legislative races will be completed by the 2011 NC General Assembly. Our member of Congress has absolutely nothing to do with that process.

  11. Fremont says:

    Its long pass time to clean House. Enough is enough. Don’t Re-Elect anyone!

  12. Lindsey Simerly says:

    Nathan- his statements on immigration are terrifying. I consider calling for military force to arm borders and hunt down people within this country racism. You can call it something different if you want.

    Being opposed to cap and trade while supporting more drilling is anti-environment.

  13. designation says:

    Settling for Shuler now doesn’t prepare you for gains in the future.

    Why didn’t you just settle for Bruce Goforth?

    I mean, he’s probably the best you could do in that district and all that, right? Let’s just keep a sure majority in the NC House and not try for better things.

    Oh, you tossed Goforth out?

    Nevermind.

  14. nathan ramsey says:

    Jeff Miller is not a racist. Our current Congressman and he are probably not too far apart on their views on immigration, both claim to want secure borders and only legal immigration. It is not racist to be opposed to open borders. We desperately need immigration reform but with the political posturing by everyone in DC, don’t think its likely to happen and that harms us all including immigrant communities.

    Opposing cap and trade doesn’t mean someone is anti-environment. Alot of folks in the environmental community will tell you its a bad bill loaded with pork. It would have been defensible if the President had been honest and told everyone he believes our energy prices should increase for the sake of the environment and national security but instead we get this bill that is a lobbyist dream.

    More drilling only makes sense, its like a farmer with a field ready for harvest but deciding not to follow through. China has a national energy policy of all of the above, they are leaders of renewable energy, they are adding coal plants left and right, etc. We can’t build a new nuclear plant in 30 years, we are importing wind turbines from other countries, and we are letting China drill oil off the coast of Florida via Cuba. And we wonder why we are in such a mess.

  15. brainshrub says:

    @nathan ramsey:

    Some fact-checking on energy policy because you’re parroting common misconceptions:

    More drilling only makes sense, its like a farmer with a field ready for harvest but deciding not to follow through.

    False comparison. Unlike crops, oil is non-renewable. Also, petroleum doesn’t whither and die if you don’t harvest immediately.

    If corn could only be harvested once _ever_ in a given area, and the entire nation’s food supply depended on it – there would be many legitimate reasons not to harvest until absolutely necessary.

    It would also make sense to give top-priority to the development of renewable foodstuffs, and do everything possible to wean ourselves off of corn.

    For example, we could set up a cap & trade system which would reward private enterprise for developing & using alternatives.

    China has a national energy policy of all of the above, they are leaders of renewable energy, they are adding coal plants left and right, etc.

    China’s energy policy is extraordinary complex – just like it is here. But just because China has an energy policy doesn’t mean we should drill more often.

    The US is also a leader in renewable energy, and we do add coal plants when necessary. The difference being that we at least try to minimize negative effects, and citizens are supposed to have a say in what gets built next to them. (@#$% democratic institutions! If only we could be more like those Chinese communists!!!)

    If you want to make an argument that the state should prioritize corporate interests and employment over the health & environment of it’s citizens like China does – just say so.

    Then you’d be able to openly support policies that allow local officials to do to uppity community activists protesting new power plants what they do in that beacon of freedom: China.

    Quick case in point: http://tinyurl.com/26jhplk

    (ON EDIT: Y’know, if we had the Chinese energy policy here in Asheville, you’d have been able to order Smith & most of the Scrutiny Hooligans arrested over the 2007 Woodfin Power Plant controversy.

    Hey, do you remember how we were supposed to have rolling black-outs if that wasn’t built?

    I do.)

    We can’t build a new nuclear plant in 30 years,

    There are reasons for that – not least of which is waste material that will outlast our species, and the ramifications of an accident.

    But even if you disagree with my assessment of nuclear danger, it’s a moot point. The US is going nuclear, and neither Shuler or Miller will change this trajectory.

    Thanks to Bush’s Nuclear Power 2010 Program, which Obama seems to support, efforts for building new nuclear power plants are being coordinated as we speak. Also, the 2005 Energy Policy Act makes provisions for nuclear and oil industries.

    Earlier this year Obama announced loan guarantees for two new reactors at Georgia Power’s Vogtle NPP. The reactors, according to the president’s officials, will be the first of many.

    we are importing wind turbines from other countries,

    Not sure how this justifies more drilling. Besides, we import everything these days. I’d be willing to bet many components of an oil rig are also imported.

    and we are letting China drill oil off the coast of Florida via Cuba.

    Yeah, about that. You might want to double-check your RW talking points.

    http://tinyurl.com/4oemza

    and

    http://tinyurl.com/35she74

    – pvh

  16. Fremont says:

    Oil and Security

    We must never be dependent on any other country for anything that we have or can make ourselves in this country.

    Oil and natural gas are just some of the items we must never depend on anyone else for.

    We must drill now in any and all areas that have oil and natural gas. We also need to remove most of the EPA rules that slow or stop building of refineries or drilling. This would allow us to build more refineries and pipe lines that are needed now.

    We must continue to explore for new deposits. Plus make other forms of energy economically feasible.

  17. Fremont says:

    Where was man when the Glaciers in the northern part of what is now the United States melted? The Planet has always had climate changes thru out its history and there is no tax that is going to stop it. I doubt that mankind has a whole lot to do with the changes now going on. Cap and Trade in any form is nothing more then more taxes. It will not fix the environment. If, for some reason you doubt what I say, get a book on Earth Science that starts at the beginning of the planet. Hopefully, one written before 1975. Think Climate Gate. This appears to be a huge con job by “scientists” and politicians on the people. Look at the money that is to made by the governments with the taxes they are and will impose on the people. “Scientists” will also make a bundle coming up with ways to solve the “problem”. Not to mention the businesses selling the stuff that they will say will save the planet.
    Links to other articles or sites on the above subject:“Change” is Not New By Thomas SowellTo find out some of the stuff added at 3 in the morning on the day of the vote on the H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, view this link: Newsbusters.orgPolish Academy of Sciences Questions Gore’s Man-Made Global Warming TheoryGlobalWarming.OrgAlaska glaciers grew this year, thanks to colder weatherArgentine Glacier Grows Despite Global WarmingClimategate Scandal and the Defeat of ETSNo Hole in the Blogosphere: Tracking Climate-GateWhy You Should Be Hot and Bothered About ‘Climate-gate’Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’?CBC Commentator: Handling of Climate Change Data Wouldn’t Pass Muster at Grade 9 Science FairUK NEWS,CLIMATE CHANGE IS NATURAL: 100 REASONS WHY

  18. nathan ramsey says:

    Mining and drilling will occur if it makes economic sense to do so. Just like a farmer, if the price of tomatoes doesn’t justify the cost to pick them you will let the crop rot in the fields. If oil is $20/barrell then we are not going to start many new wells or adopt alternative energy sources since they will be much more costly.

    My understanding is that Progress still hasn’t come up with the energy savings/generation to replace lost supplies and the need for new generation in WNC. Someone involved in the CEAC will be more knowledgeable than I am.

    What you need to be honest about is that you advocate much higher energy prices which in turn will support green technology and other developments. Cap and trade is a confusing, pork laden, and lobbyist driven way to get there which in my view is bad policy. People have conflicting desires: most folks don’t want to live off the grid, they don’t want to pay more for their energy, but they want their energy to come from cleaner sources.

  19. pslam5000 says:

    Although, the primary goal of the BCGOP’s ridiculous and ironic September 11th fundraising scheme may only be to gain attention, the Young Democrats of Buncombe County would like to put your attentiveness to good use. We are holding an online fundraiser in response

    http://www.actblue.com/page/buncombe4marshall

    p.s. EPIC Scroo Hoo history making burn dished out by brainshrub (post #15), easy there PVH

  20. Hazelite says:

    Who has been around here long enough to remember the Princeton educated Democrat we had in congress before Taylor got elected? What was he like?
    Do we have to choose between way republican and republican-ish? I believe the right candidate could be both more progressive than Shuler and electable in NC-11. Yes, it would be a delicate walk and they would need a great campaign team. This is doable with a good ground game, who’s up for 2012?

  21. brainshrub says:

    @nathan ramsey:

    Mining and drilling will occur if it makes economic sense to do so. Just like a farmer, if the price of tomatoes doesn’t justify the cost to pick them you will let the crop rot in the fields. If oil is $20/barrell then we are not going to start many new wells or adopt alternative energy sources since they will be much more costly.

    Way to change goal posts! Originally you wrote that refusing to drill more often would be as logical as a farmer refusing to harvest her crops. But once the false analogy is pointed out, you claim you _really_ meant that it’s an economic and cost argument.

    Okay. Let’s go there.

    The reason petroleum extraction is profitable is thanks to heavy government subsidies in the form of:

    * Construction bonds at low interest rates or tax-free
    * Research-and-development programs at low or no cost
    * Assuming the legal risks of exploration and development in a company’s stead
    * Below-cost loans with lenient repayment conditions
    * Income tax breaks, especially featuring obscure provisions in tax laws designed to receive little congressional oversight when they expire
    * Sales tax breaks – taxes on petroleum products are lower than average sales tax rates for other goods
    * Giving money to international financial institutions (the U.S. has given tens of billions of dollars to the World Bank and U.S. Export-Import Bank to encourage oil production internationally, according to Friends of the Earth)
    * The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve
    * Construction and protection of the nation’s highway system
    * Allowing the industry to pollute – what would oil cost if the industry had to pay to protect its shipments, and clean up its spills? If the environmental impact of burning petroleum were considered a cost? Or if it were held responsible for the particulate matter in people’s lungs, in liability similar to that being asserted in the tobacco industry?
    * Relaxing the amount of royalties to be paid

    If oil companies had to pay the actual costs of extracting & distributing their product, this conversation would be moot because our whole economy would be based on figuring out the most effective way to make use of every last hydrocarbon – instead of wasting them on SUV go-juice or plastic bags.

    Alas, neither Shuler or Miller are willing to address this issue since the whole political process is beholden to corporate interests.

    What you need to be honest about is that you advocate much higher energy prices which in turn will support green technology and other developments.

    When have I not been honest about this? You are accurately describing my opinion on the issue. I believe most people who advocate for sustainable energy policy have been saying the same thing for decades.

    The govt needs to remove subsidies for petroleum extraction and make the industry pay the actual cost of production. If Miller is willing to support such a policy, I would seriously consider voting for him. It would do more to support green policies than 1000 Bothwells in government.

    Cap and trade is a confusing, pork laden, and lobbyist driven way to get there which in my view is bad policy.

    We agree. Although in my view it’s because it doesn’t go nearly far enough to actually be effective.

    People have conflicting desires: most folks don’t want to live off the grid, they don’t want to pay more for their energy, but they want their energy to come from cleaner sources.

    1) You don’t have to live off the grid to minimize your footprint. In fact, the grid can be a remarkably efficient way to distribute energy, transportation, and material resources. The problem is that our national grids are obsolete and not based on a sustainable long-range plan.

    C&T may not be that ideal plan, but it sure as hell beats “Drill baby, drill”.

    2) In a post Peak-Oil world, it doesn’t matter what people’s desires are when it comes to getting access to cheap hydrocarbons. These desires conflict against thermodynamics and geology – neither of which care about what humans want.

    The economic, environmental, and social costs of extraction are rising exponentially. These costs are currently hidden from the end-consumer by heavy government subsidies, and by ignoring the long-term ramifications to future generations.

    This can’t continue.

    C&T, while not a solution – is a start to begin re-tooling our economy to deal with the coming crisis. Arguing against it is like the grasshopper actively lobbying the ants from storing food for the winter.

    My understanding is that Progress still hasn’t come up with the energy savings/generation to replace lost supplies and the need for new generation in WNC. Someone involved in the CEAC will be more knowledgeable than I am.

    And yet – the lights stay on. It’s almost as if the people advocating for the power plant were wrong.

    – pvh

  22. Kristin says:

    That any political candidate can garner support with a pro-drilling platform after this travesty in the Gulf of Mexico makes me despair for our country. Guess if the (corporate-owned) media and (BP funded) scientists tell us all is well, then there’s nothing to be concerned about. Those folks complaining about corexit-induced rashes are attention-seeking hysterics only to be believed by conspiracy theorists. Everything is fine! Drill, baby!

  23. Tom Sullivan says:

    Great discussion. Thanks, everyone.

  24. Paul Choi says:

    Congressman Shuler is endorsed by the Sierra Club:
    http://www.sierraclub.org/politics/endorsements/

  25. To go back to Gordon’s original point, I’m in agreement that left leaning or progressive people or Democrats even should vote for Heath this November. FULL DISCLOSURE: I am not an NC-11 resident, nor even an NC resident! But if faced with the same choice, I would vote for Heath Shuler. I have watched and have also been disappointed with the 16.1% of his votes that didn’t go our way. On Health Care especially. But what’s done is done, and now we have to look at the choice ahead.

    The best civics lessons are never about people who got everything they wanted. They’re about people who were willing face the music and give up a little of what they wanted in order to drive things in a better direction for everybody including themselves. Sacrifice is never easy, and the voice inside your head is always asking why me, why now? But it is often the right thing to do.

    Gordon invites the dissatisfied progressive to vote strategically. It is a north by northwest. A longer and harder path than due north (assuming your that’s your goal, just humor me) but imagine how much harder it is by going due south!

    Some progressives say, “I can not cast MY vote for Heath Shuler.” Yes, it is your vote and no one is going to deny that. But YOU are not the only person that matters, and Shuler’s 84.9% voting would look pretty damned good against a Republican’s ZERO percent. (Less than zero for that matter.) How acquiescing to a Republican takeover is better for anybody in the long or short run I know not.

    Maybe for this round, it won’t be a vote for Shuler, but against Miller. That should be a no brainer. Shouldn’t need to destroy the village in order to save it.