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A Revolution of Values

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Here’s an excerpt from MLK’s speech “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam,” a speech which seems to me, with every passing day, to have more and more meaning for our times. The whole thing is worth listening to or reading of course, but I think of the first four minutes here as the highlight.

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Here’s how Congressman Heath Shuler voted on yesterday’s health care reform votes, along with the overall vote on each question within the House Democratic caucus. Feel free to continue discussions – in whatever language – from Tom’s debate thread below.

On the rule governing debate of the Senate bill and the reconciliation bill: Nay. Democratic tally: 224 ayes, 29 nays.

On the Senate bill: Nay. Democratic tally: 219 ayes, 35 nays.

On the motion to recommit the reconciliation bill and reinstate the Stupak-Pitts anti-abortion language from the earlier House bill: Aye. Democratic tally: 232 nays, 22 ayes.

On the reconciliation bill: Nay. Democratic tally: 220 ayes, 34 nays.

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Saturday Open Thread: Why Not?

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Anyway, we haven’t had one in a while. Word is on the street that Heath Shuler will be a no vote on the health care bill, so you can start with that.

And in other news, health care hero Anthony Weiner confronts bogosity head on (with Virginia Foxx making a cameo).

(Wait. What? You’re outside? It’s nice out? In Asheville? On the weekend?)

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[Disclaimer: Scrutiny Hooligans is a group blog. Occasionally posters not named Gordon Smith – posters like me, Doug Gibson – will write about issues having to do with City Council and Asheville in general. When we do so, our views and opinions do not reflect Gordon’s in any way, shape, or form. Got it?]

[Update: Two Four answers (in the order I received them) after the jump.]

I’ve just e-mailed these two questions to each member of the City Council. (Yes, even Councilman Smith.)

1) Granted that there were flaws in the process, do you think Holly Shriner should have volunteered information about her ties to the Deal Buick site in her application and interview?

2) If you had known about Ms. Shriner’s connections to the Deal Buick site, would you have approached her application – and your vote – any differently?

Please understand that I’m not casting aspersions on Ms. Shriner. Far from it — I applaud her for her interest in serving on one of the city’s most challenging boards. On the other hand, if City Council can revisit their appointments in the light of the new information they have about Ms. Shriner (and apparently they can), then I think they probably should.

I specifically told everyone that they could take their time, since I expect they want to be judicious in their answers. When I get their responses I’ll post them as soon as I can. In the meantime, what do y’all think?

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MoveOn is sponsoring a “virtual march on Washington” today in support of health care reform. They’re aiming for a million contacts – you can call, fax, or e-mail – and as of 9 am they were up to more than 100,000.

If you’re a public option supporter, this is probably the best time yet to call Kay Hagan and let her know that you want her to sign the Bennett letter to indicate her support for passing a public option through reconciliation. (Use MoveOn’s portal, though – they’re keeping track of the number of contacts.) When I called this morning, the staffer who answered told me that Senator Hagan is considering signing, and reminded me that she’s supported he public option before.

And as for Heath Shuler? Well, you know, talking to him about health care reform is like talking to a brick wall. Read More→

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from the Cornell University Collection of Political Americana, Cornell University Library

Every year, registered Democrats in almost all of North Carolina’s roughly 3000 precincts meet to discuss policy, elect officers (in off years), and, sometimes, figure out how to organize themselves. The county Democratic Party has set next Monday, March 1st as the date most Buncombe precincts will have their meetings, though there are a few exceptions (see here for a full list.)

After seven years of organizing precincts and precinct meetings, I have learned by experience (and sometimes painful experience) a lot about what precinct-level organizing can’t accomplish.

Want to make a difference in an election? It’s probably more effective to volunteer for individual campaigns. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of particular candidate, if they’re running a well-organized campaign, they will often help other worthy candidates on the ballot. Want to stay involved in meaningful action between elections? Groups like MoveOn and Organizing for America manage their volunteers better than the party as a whole, and certainly better than a precinct committee full of amateurs.

And yet there’s still something about precinct meetings that make them unique. Join a campaign, and it’s all about the candidate, and they and their staff call the shots. Even if you join grassroots groups like Organizing for America, your approach to an issue – the strategy you follow, and even sometimes the tactics you’re allowed to employ in your community – are largely determined by people a long way away who are unaccountable to you or your fellow members (except insofar as they’re sensitive to the feedback provided by rising or declining membership and donations).

Go to a precinct meeting, on the other hand, and it really is all about you. Read More→

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While we’re on the subject . . .

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Now that Cecil Bothwell (and H.K. Edgerton and the Stompers) have gotten us a little national exposure, I just want to point out that expunging the “supreme being” language from the state constitution would require either a) a constitutional convention, or b) a referendum. You only get a referendum if three-fifths of both the House and Senate vote in favor of one, however. You really only get a convention after some radical change in conditions, so we’re probably stuck with that provision for the foreseeable future.

North Carolina’s unconstitutional sodomy law, however, only needs majorities in the House and Senate – and the governor’s signature – to take its rightful place in the dustbin of history. A bill was introduced in this past session to repeal the law – Buncombe County’s own Susan Fisher cosponsored it – but it never made it out of committee. Really, since the committee it was assigned to never even took it up, you could say it never made it into committee.

I can’t tell which is stranger: That politicians should be so afraid of making it legal for consenting adults to do whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes, or that they should be so afraid of repealing any law that had already been found to be unconstitutional.

I dunno, but I’m guessing there just aren’t that many lawyers in the legislature.

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Well, which is it, Congressman?

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Up or down on health care reform?

[U.S. Rep. Phil] Roe [R-TN] also said he does not think another Democrat whose district borders his, Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., of Western North Carolina, will vote for the bill.

I’m sure your doubts stem from your desire for a single-payer system. Or maybe you haven’t heard from enough of your constituents.

Is your number still (202) 225-6401? It is? Just checking.

UPDATE: 5:44pm and Shuler has apparently voted against the rules of debate, which means – since the anti-choice Stupak Amendment will be part of that debate – that even having the opportunity to deny insurance coverage for abortions to consumers buying health insurance on the new exchanges wasn’t enough to get his vote. Would a vote in favor of health care reform really have endangered him to that extent?

UPDATE: Shuler votes yes on the Stupak amendment, and no on final passage, though one hopes he received permission to vote no once it became clear that the bill would pass without him. (At least he didn’t vote for the Republican substitute.) Next time, Congressman, please write your own bill so we know exactly what you stand for. I guess, too, we’ll see how you vote once it comes back from conference.

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Is Red a Primary Color?

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Ever since August, when we all got an earful of what Heath Shuler thought about health care reform (he was pretty much against any proposed Democratic legislation, and had so few concrete suggestions for what he would support you kind of got the impression that reform wasn’t high on his “to do” list), I have been wondering: does Shuler deserve a primary challenge?

I can’t believe I’m the only progressive to think along these lines. (And if Shuler votes against the House health care bill tomorrow, I’m sure quite a few more will join our ranks.) But I’m guessing we’ve all faced the reality of the situation – that Shuler would win the primary, and that he’s almost certain to retain the seat for the Democrats next November. If that’s the case, then is there anything to be gained by a sacrificial lamb challenging Shuler from the left in a primary? Would such a challenge accomplish anything that could not be accomplished by other means?

What I’m really asking is this: given that Shuler’s progressive constituents probably want him to vote more often with the majority of the Democratic caucus, would a primary challenge help or hinder the other means at their disposal to influence his vote? Read More→


Today is a Good Day to Dial

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Bring your cell phone when you’re voting early today for one of Asheville’s best politicians. After 8:30 or so, you might want to call Heath Shuler’s office. Read More→

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