I was wrong again

Dear friends in Chapel Hill,

It seems like forever ago that I called so many of you, as I've done too many times, to help with a fundraising event here in Orange County. In this case, I wanted to introduce you to a new candidate in North Carolina's 8th District, Larry Kissell. After talking with Larry several times, I concluded that he was a thoughtful person worthy of your financial support. Not only that, but he had proved to me that he would listen. I had told him that he needed a more professional photograph for his website, and he took action on that immediately.

Nearly a hundred good people responded to my request by writing checks or attending a very successful event at my home. Larry wasn't shy about taking the cash, nor was he reluctant to engage. He wrote scores of posts here, including one entitled Betrayal begins with trust. Truer words were never spoken.

So when I learned today from Fredly that Kissell will be a "no" vote on healthcare reform, I had to do some deep soul-searching. And while my dear friend and blogging partner Betsy is willing to give Larry the benefit of the doubt one more time, I am not.

Thus I find myself in the unenviable position of reaching out to many acquaintances to apologize. I was blinded by my desire to get rid of Robin Hayes, and fell for Kissell's happy talk. I didn't vet him thoroughly enough. I didn't realize that he's not willing to do the hard thinking necessary to see past simplistic answers to complicated challenges.

Please forgive me. I asked you to support a person who today has chosen to side with hatemongers and liars instead of serious people focused on serious solutions. Dan Besse recently analyzed Kissell's position on health care as well as anyone:

I know that Larry is "our guy" but this vote will make him zero for two on the biggest issues of the decade in Congress. First, climate change and energy, and now health care. I am personally familiar with the legislative process, as a local elected official and as a long-time pragmatic advocate deeply involved in state legislative negotiations. There are ALWAYS problems and shortcomings in the details of any complex legislation. You can ALWAYS find a "good reason" to vote no. Larry's explanations here and on climate change were the kind of arguments you make when you know that the right thing is to vote "yes" but you're taking a walk in order to protect yourself politically. Sometimes, legislators in competitive districts need to do that in order to fight another day.

But sometimes you have to stand up in the face of the heat. So far, Larry has not done so on what I count as the biggest ones. I am highly disappointed.

Can he redeem himself? Yes--by voting "yes" when the bills come back for final passage, and by voting "no" on amendments that would strip the public option. But I do not think he is off to a good start here.

In closing, I want to point out that Larry's campaign slogan back in 2004 was "Someone working ... for a change." With all due respect, and it ain't much these days, I'll believe it when I see it.


PS In case you think I'm making all this up, click through to read Larry Kissell's BlueNC Blog for yourself. Take time to read the comments. Take time to wonder how someone could participate in this community the way he did and then fall so short in dealing with the complicated challenges we're facing.

Here are some of the early posts he made.

I'm Larry Kissell and you can make a difference
Women's Equality Day.
Class of 2011 is counting on us.
The real reason we do what we do.

That last post is an especially sharp turn of the knife, one among many.


I think it is really worth

trying to figure out what has gone wrong here. If we can be so taken in by words and put such faith and energy into candidates only to have them do the wrong thing when it counts, maybe we need to find another way to "proof" the politician. Do we need a written contract? That sounds silly even as I write it but so much is at stake. Maybe recalls should be more common.

I wish I had an answer

All I hope is that he has the good sense to steer well clear of Chapel Hill the next time he's looking for hand-outs. I certainly won't be encouraging anyone to support him.

Kissell will be 0-2

Completely disappointed with him.

Kissell also voted against the House climate and energy bill. With the health care "no" he's going to be 0-2 on the big issues that matter.

After the climate vote, Kissell's office made a weak attempt to say to his base that he voted no because it wasn't strong enough (read his statements and press releases from that vote and clearly he was saying it was TOO strong). I think the same is happening here on health care - Kissell wants progressives to believe that he wants these bills to be even stronger - but I'm not buying it.

I think a pledge not to join the Blue Dogs would be a start

The blue dog echo chamber has demonstrated its influence over its members. Everything I've seen so far suggests that joining the blue dogs requires abandoning your ability to read polls and CBO analyses accurately.

Prove me wrong Larry. I spent about 10 hours on election day on helplarry.com making calls for you and coordinating a call center where tens of other students were doing the same. You can kiss me and most of your grassroots base goodbye if you continue down this path.

Let the Blue Dogs lick themselves

The answer is quite simple.

The historic Democratic US House majority (258-177) need not be that large to be effective and more progressive.

They're the ones in the "competitive" red districts anyway.

Let some Democrats lose.

If 20 Dems lose in 2010, who cares? The Dems will still have a workable US House majority.

I've long been willing to give up Shuler and McIntyre from NC.

Maybe it's time to consider tossing Kissell. I'm just not there yet with him, but he's pushing it.


WOW!! Very strong reaction

It never ceases to amaze me when I see an extremely strong reaction to politicians that do not go along party lines because of personal beliefs or because of concerns that they will violate their promises when they ran for office in the first place. There are just so many ways to bring the "blue dogs" into the democratic fold on health care reform and this includes Congressman Kissell (although I am not sure he can be called a legitimate "blue dog"). I will withhold my debunking of him until I know that there could not be some kind of resolution to some of the things in this bill that could be "worked out". There is time to bring this all together. Let's get it right and let's make sure we can be inclusive of all democrats, not just one particular vision or side of the equation.

I am pretty adamant that there has to be a "choice" provision in this bill and a public option must be a part of it. But, there are other things that we must consider as well that can definately be worked out.

It's not about voting along party lines

First off, you're right that Larry's no Blue Dog--I was misinformed on that. However, he has been acting like one on this and on climate--the two biggest policy debates of this session.

The Blue Dog caucus has, over the last three years since the Dems won a majority, systematically weakened and obstructed our agenda. Its unreasonable opposition to a strong public option has forced the House to weaken its bargaining position in conference with the Senate and is making us settle for a weaker bill that does less to provide coverage and control costs. They have ignored polls that show the public option being popular in their districts, instead echoing the inane conventional wisdom (with no supporting) that anything Democrats do is unpopular and must be watered down.

Their primary motive is not to do right by their constituents, or even to please their constituents--it's to blur the difference between the parties. I worked hard to support Larry not because he would toe the party line (one look at his website, which highlighted his social conservatism, would dispel any notion that he would be across the board progressive), but because I thought he would stand up for what his constituents and the American people needed.

I understand that he's not perfectly satisfied with the bill. No Democrat is. However, they've been debating it since last winter, and this is what they came up with. Now is the time for Democrats to recognize that they've all had their fair share of input (except single payer advocates, who have had none) and pass the bill.

If they don't, it would be a massive political failure that would endanger all Democrats--especially those who opposed it.

Larry called me near election day in 08 asking for (more) money

and I said OK if you assure me when you win you won't vote like or be a Blue Dog. I gave...he lied. I called his office and had a "spirited" conversation with one of his staff. He (staffer) didn't want to hear what I had to say and couldn't refute a single fact about the elsewhere demonstrated minimal energy cost increases where carbon emissions have been severely constrained. It was a appalling moment for me when I concluded Kissell has become a tool of the monied special interests. He will never see another penny from us...nor will I phone bank for him...and I will actively enumerate his political about-face whenever and wherever possible and appropriate. He needs to go back to being a commoner like the rest of us. I guess he's forgotten what it's like....or then again, maybe not...and that's why all he cares about is staying in office with his face buried in the public trough.

Do you think I'm angry enough?

Stan Bozarth

I'm with you James.

Kissell's vote on climate just didn't make sense... even for his district, and even if it did, sometimes a legislator has to look at the total picture and stand his ground and explain why he voted for the larger good of the nation. I'm stunned that Kissell has voted as he has and appears to be headed. We contributed numerous times and we're no where close to his district. But then, we helped Shuler too. Considering our work for them and Neal and Edwards we are zero for four. We're actually done...and I mean DONE. Maybe Brad Miller...but that's it.

Stan Bozarth

I've signed papers that allow for my

institutionalization any time I again contribute that kind of money to a politician. If Congress was serious about representing the people and their constituents they'd pass MEANINGFUL campaign finance reform legislation. That it hasn't happened proves the vast majority are nothing but a bunch of wolves in sheep's clothing.

Stan Bozarth

Shuler voted for ACES

Please remember that Shuler voted yes on the House version of the energy and climate change bill. He deserves credit for that--the Republicans will try to use it against him. Wherever else Shuler may fall short, I am still inclined to believe his gut is right on the environment, and he is willing to act that way.

Kissell was wrong on the climate change bill too. I criticized him for that, but took some pause from the possibility that he may have done some very cold vote-counting, knew it would pass, and was saving his "stand-up" moment for the tough fight on health care reform.

No such luck, apparently.

Dan Besse

Call Me an A**Hole

but I am sitting out 2010. I have worked on campaigns at varying levels. I always work hard on GOTV. I donate in small amounts and encourage others to do so.

So let the media say that when the Dems lose it is because they hate the progressive agenda all they like. At least I know the truth: until the Dems start acting like progressives I have little use for them.

If all we are going to get is the same ol sh*t, I am not going to waste my time, energy, and money. I will not be reading the blogs as heavily. I will totally boycott cable news. I will remove myself from all email and phone bank lists.

They asked us for a majority of governors and state legislatures. We gave them that. They asked us for huge majorities in Congress. We gave them that. They asked us for a Democrat in the White House. We gave them that.

We asked them for true reform on climate change, health care, banking/finance, and an end to unnecessary wars. They gave us none of that.

Call me an a**hole, but I'm tired of being a good boy all year and still getting coal in my stocking come Christmas time.

a litmus test for candidates

I went to Cabarrus and Union Counties to help his campaign, I knocked for Kissell. Gave Dollars and Time and encouraged others to phone bank, knock, donate.

I received several hand written thank yous for my checks.

When I wrote him about his votes, I received no reply, nothing.

Today I was thinking that the folks who are voting against the climate bill, will one day be viewed quite harshly. And the vote on health care, that will also be remembered as a turning point.

And Larry Kissell fooled me.

Remember how we all rallied around him when the Congressional Democrats dissed him? He seemed like a thoughtful, smart, honest guy. We thought Rahm had overlooked a good candidate and denied him funding and their support? So we hollered at them?

He is not the only candidate who fooled me. But he is one that I ate dinner with, and met his wife and really thought he was a good guy.


You're correct

I was misinformed; he's not a Blue Dog. He has been acting like one though, running scared from the Obama/Democratic platform.

This is a sad diary and doesn't bode well for

Conservadems or the whole Dem party. Like others here, I too donated and worked for the Kissell campaign. Nowhere as near the time and effort Betsy put in or any of the others, but I met Larry and his wife Tina and like them both. I have to admit that I somehow missed the fact that he was conservative leaning during his campaign. Maybe I just didn't pay attention or maybe I too was caught up in the movement to get rid of Hayes. Nevertheless, I encouraged many people in his district to vote for him because I was convinced he would bring change. I thought that since he had worked in a mill and then as a teacher, he connected with the working class and would be more sympathetic to their needs.

There has been so much disappointment in the Dem party that many of us that are new to political activism may not participate in the future.

One thing that is not clear is the issue of Medicare, particularly Medicare Advantage. I have read a number of articles about it and the fact that the r's decided that they could undermine Medicare by handing over a portion of Medicare to the private for-profit industry. I think that a friend said it well when he said, " The pugs are exactly like rats. What they don't destroy outright, they pee and crap all over so no-one else will have it."

I've read that the bill now passing through Congress gives away too much to the for-profit insurance industry. I've also read that by taking the "for-profit" out of Medicare Advantage millions will be saved. I am confused and would really like someone to do an in-depth analysis explaining how taking out the for-profits will hurt the seniors this is suppose to help.

Like many Americans, I want single payer, but that was taken off the table at the start. However, the public option could do what President Obama says if it is strong and does present a viable alternative to private insurance.

What is the truth?

I hope Democrats don't underestimate the activism

in the blogs that has grown up as a force to be reckoned with. Not just our little corner of the world but across the country. It's become an echo chamber, powerful enough that Markos shows up on prime time TV alongside the pundits now. Passionate and progressive, we are the soul of the Democratic party and the party will suffer without our help.

I don't understand the bill either but I hope that there will be enough of a bare bones semblance of the public option in it to make it through to a point in the process where it can still be morphed back into something useful to the public and Democrats can be very proud of it. I think Kissell is disingenuous in saying that Medicaire will be damaged by it. He knows as we all do that Democrats wouldn't do anything bad to seniors. They're not crazy.

Extremely confusing legislation

"I don't understand the bill either". How many times have I read that and heard that about the Health Care Reform Bill(s) 2009? What is certain, though, is that in every poll taken by every polling agency, the majority in America say they believe we need health care reform. But, polling results about how this is being handled varies widely: http://www.pollingreport.com/health.htm

This bill has to be troubling for politicians that are in swing districts and in districts where they could be vulnerable depending on how they ultimately vote on this (regardless of party affiliation). There are just so many issues that affect just so many people in our country. There is the issue of "choice" and in inclusion of language in the bill that would allow for or not allow for funding under a public option for abortion. There is the extremely volitile issue of the bill covering medical care for illigal immigrants (the Hispanic caucus has recently said that if this bill does not cover illegal immigrants, it will not support it). There is the issue of eliminating Medicare Advantage that millions of our seniors are currently insured under. There is the issue of forced coverage in what is being said to be much the same as how our states force people to have auto insurance. There is the issue of fines and penalties for employers that fail to cover their employees and for individuals that fail to secure health insurance on their own failing any other means to secure it. There is the issue of the cost to America to implement this in the first place and in how this is going to be paid for and whether or not people truly believe that it will all be covered by eliminating the corruption and waste in Medicare and so forth or will it actually become just another unfunded liability like Medicare and end up running our economic system into the ground.

On all of these issues (and there are just so many more I have not included), it seems everyone has an opinion. My republican "friends" :) argue that the answer to health care reform is not just another huge government program. They say reform can be brought about incrementally through enacting legislation and government oversight specifically targeted to solve the many problems we currently have. I am not sure I totally agree with that, but to me it does seem that many ills within our health care system can be cured through a limited program and then our legislators could take the remaining issues step-by-step and work on them each until all have been solved.

Pelosi hopes to have a vote this weekend on the House version of the Health Care Reform Bill. To date, it is unsure if the votes are there for us to win that vote. And, then, even if this does get approved, the Senate is another story altogether.

If this all ends up being passed and finds its way to the president's desk (which would most certainly be signed), I hope James is correct when he says that even if it isn't "perfect" (and, that's my word, not James'), corrrections can be made going forward.

I just hope that we do not lose too many of our democratic House and Senate members in 2010 because they voted in a way that the repugs can use against them.

Definitely a time for courage.

Some of the issues you list are real concerns but some are not. Some are just fear filtering down from R's.

I wouldn't wait to make the bill as good as we want. I don't think there will be any more chances to do this...President, House majority, almost filibuster proof Senate, Dems all. We won't get this chance again.

I hate it

I don't expect much from Etheridge and McIntyre, but like James has said, we were given reason to believe that we could expect Kissell to be a progressive voice.

I guess it takes one to know one.

I'd call myself a somewhere-between-moderate-to-liberal Democrat, and I NEVER took him to be a progressive. But I'm really hacked off at him about this vote!

Sweet Union Dem

Organizing for America spent

Organizing for America spent all day yesterday and last night calling voters in Kissell's district. Apparently they have written off Heath Shuler. Shuler had an article in our local paper yesterday and it doesn't sound like he will vote for the bill. I don't understand what difference it makes whether or not Kissell is a Blue Dog member, he votes with them.

I think the same could be said of Heath Shuler, in the excitment of getting rid of Taylor everyone overlooked his shortcomings. Make no mistake about it, next election R's will vote for real R's and progressive D's will take a pass. He didn't meet with us on recess, but held two tele townhalls, but there is a video of him meeting with the Asheville Tea Baggers.

And to whomever was talking about lockstep, this isn't just any vote, this is the vote. It ranks up there with civil rights votes of the 60's.

Howie Klein's take on Kissell betrayal

Thursday I started getting urgent e-mails from several friends on Capitol Hill. I would have rather heard from Blueberry Hill. Larry Kissell, a freshman Democrat from North Carolina, was making noises about killing the health care bill. Why would they be contacting me out in L.A.? Well, in 2006 Blue America raised $10,995 for him, and last year we raised him another $15,331. On top of that, the Blue America blogs promoted his candidacy relentlessly and gave him the idea that put him on the front pages, the gas station promotion in 2006, and spent around $50,000 in the last few days of the 2008 campaign


Please digg it here:


Well . . .

after the way ACES ended up looking after it came out of the meat grinder, what else was he going to do? Not that I would have preferred him to vote against it - that was the best climate legislation that we could expect from this Congress at this time - but ACES was a bill even some Republicans voted for, and one that Collin Peterson probably used the Blue Dog threat to weaken as much as possible. Having extracted their concessions, the BD's were obliged to vote for the result.

Now we're on health care. And so far, the only leadership Shuler has shown on this issue is to write Henry Waxman and ask him not to seek rebates from the drug companies for overcharging seniors. He may still vote in favor - as of now, nobody's listing him as a solid "no," but once again we've got an extremely conservative piece of legislation reaching the floor when more progressive legislation would serve the country better, largely because of Shuler and the Blue Dogs putting pressure on Pelosi from the right.

From what I've heard, yes, Shuler is concerned about the environment. But his donors and constituents have the right to judge him on more than one issue.

Liberals and Progressives tend to Follow the Yellow Brick Road

We tend to look for the good in everything. We tend to believe the best in people and rely heavily on Hope and Trust.... We are often disappointed, hurt, deceived, disallusioned and for a time lean to questioning our faith in our fellow man...... I am willing to let this condition remain as it is and I will likely suffer from it yet again...but,...

Marshall Adame needs to trust. I need to hope and believe. I need to exercise faith and know a cause is noble. I wax elequently and stand on the political soapbox endlessly expounding my beliefs, but at the end of the day I will trust someone and I will want someone to trust me.

I helped Congressman Kissell with my speach and with my money. I liked him, I believed him and I trusted him. He has dissapointed me to some degree and has contributed to my misgivings about others as well. Nevertheless......

I will trust again and I will believe again. I never stop hoping ...and faith is eternal.

Instead of tearing Larry's ears off..... Lets work to help all of our Democratic Representatives to make better decisions ..... Lets help them remember who brought them to the dance.

Marshall Adame
2014 U.S. Congress Candidate NC-03