Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Club for Growth, Main Street Alliance?

It would be wrong to say that the 2006 Republican primary in the 7th District was a battle between two wings of the Republican Party. Like the Democrats and others, the GOP is a lot more complicated than just two wings. You've got the libertarians (Ron Paul), the religious activists (Pat Robertson, James Dobson, etc.), the fiscal conservatives, the "drown the government in the bathtub" folks (Grover Norquist), the foreign policy hawks, and so many more. And then the moderates, who embody some of these groups but never completely, and even the occasional Lincoln Chafee. And most of the time, individual candidates are a mix of multiple groups.

That being said, I think most people would agree that in 2006, Joe Schwarz was the moderate, with support from the Republican Main Street Partnership, and Tim Walberg was the religious activist/"drown the government in the bathtub" candidate, with support from Right to Life and the Club for Growth.

So, imagine my surprise when I see that the Club and RMSP are, perhaps, joining together to fight the new Democratic majority. Could it be true that the two organizations that fought so bitterly last year have decided to make peace? Apparently so, according to The Politico.

Now, before taking it too seriously, check out two posts by Jonathon Singer here and here regarding the publication and this story. Still, there are some interesting things in the article.

The war of words reached its apex in the aftermath of the Michigan primary between Schwarz and Rep. Tim Walberg. Schwarz filed a complaint alleging Walberg used the same pollster as the Club for Growth -- an alleged violation of Federal Election Commission rules because the organization was supposed to be an independent expenditure. The Club for Growth countered by accusing Schwarz of colluding with the RMSP.

With former Rep. Charlie Bass (N.H.) now at RMSP's helm, relations may well be improving. Bass said he is eager to put past primary battles behind him and develop a constructive working relationship.

"Now that Republicans are now in the minority, we both agree it's best to cooperate and coordinate with each other," Bass said.

That's the key argument of the article-- that it's better to fight the Democrats than each other-- sounds like sound political reasoning on their part, but I have trouble believing it'll happen. There's too much separating the Joe Schwarz's and the Tim Walbergs, and too much anger left over from that and other races.

The article continues:

Bass said that the RMSP will not challenge Walberg in the Republican primary, even if Schwarz runs again. The group's policy is never to challenge an incumbent, regardless of the incumbent's ideological position.

In contrast, the Club for Growth has actively targeted Republicans who strayed from a tax-cutting agenda. Its financial firepower makes the group a looming threat -- its PAC spent about $2.7 million to favored candidates in 2006.

(Emphasis added.)

That's important. The Club for Growth has perfected the art of challenging moderates, and I find it hard to believe they'll change their ways next election cycle, not after proving their power here. Any truce between the Club and the moderates is short-lived at best.

More significant, though, is that if Schwarz runs again, the Main Streeters won't help him.

If Schwarz runs, he's got three options. He could run as a Democrat, leaving the party he's been part of for decades and alienating some of the folks that supported him the two previous races. He could run as an independent, still leaving his party and also having no party structure to support him, but without the mess that is the GOP primary. Or, he could run as a Republican challenger to Walberg in the primary. But to do that, he'd go against a different Tim Walberg-- one with all the powers of incumbency plus the Club's backing. With the RMSP staying out, Schwarz would have... himself.

I like Joe Schwarz a lot, even though I disagree with him often. This is a tough position he's in, and makes his choices this year all the more interesting to watch.

As for the Democrats who are looking to run against Walberg, here's what this means: don't count on a moderate-conservative split in 2008. Walberg could go into November with the full support of his party, and all the out-of-state money the Club for Growth can give him. He can certainly be defeated, but it'll take a lot of hard work.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Reaching Out to the Netroots

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Tim Walberg's efforts to reach out to conservative bloggers, and a week ago I wrote about his appearance at It's clear that Walberg hopes to harness the power of Internet-based activists in getting his message out, a tactic used successfully by candidates across the country-- especially Democrats, thanks to powerful communities at Daily Kos, MyDD, and elsewhere.

Now, the very presence of this blog and the incredible support I've received from the other contributors, other Michigan bloggers, and elsewhere shows that there's an interest in helping elect someone new in 2008. By the summer of 2008, what started last August as one guy at a keyboard could become a big thing, driven by forces more powerful than my typing skills.

Prospective candidates ought to appreciate this interest, because a successful online operation can help change the course of a modern campaign. But it's not worth much if the candidate doesn't engage the netroots.

I know that there are a couple candidates and/or potential candidates that, from time to time, read this blog. There are also a fair number of hits from the "" domain. So, even though I'm no Chris Bowers or Tim Tagaris, I'd like to encourage you to take advantage of the netroots and the blogosphere.

So I have a few requests of all potential challengers to Tim Walberg. While mostly focused on Democrats, these apply to independent/third party candidates and Republican primary challengers as well. These suggestions don't just apply to dealing with Walberg Watch. There's a whole world of potential with the Michigan blogosphere.
  • Get an account at Michigan Liberal. State Senator Mark Schauer already has, and he's had two front-page posts. (Schauer says he's going to finish his term, but plenty of folks still seem to expect him to run... it's like he's our very own Al Gore!)
  • Use your account at Michigan Liberal. If you want support, go ahead and ask for it! Write a diary titled, "I'm _____ and I'm Running for Congress", and give us your vision for America. Then, read the comments, and reply to them. Then, post on specific issues, plans, or ideas. Take the criticism as free advice from motivated activists. Show them love, and they'll help you win.
  • Start your own blog. Blogger is excellent for this, and is easy to use regardless of your knowledge of computers and "the tubes." Then put a prominent link on your campaign site, and update regularly. You don't need to write an entire manifesto every day. Instead, just comment on the campaign, the people you meet, and the problems you want to solve.
  • Use YouTube to your advantage. So what if you don't have money for a television ad? Video can still be used creatively.
  • Treat blogs just like any other form of media. Send a copy of your press releases to bloggers in the district, and, if you're going to hold an event, let us know in advance-- maybe we'll be there, and write something favorably about it.
  • Don't treat us just like any other form of media. That contradicts the last one, right? See, Walberg Watch isn't the Battle Creek Enquirer, and you shouldn't just send press releases here, and expect me or Doug or anyone else to just write an article about it. Ask us to get involved, or offer to write content specifically for the blog (presumably cross-posted on your own campaign blog). We aren't an arm of your campaign, but we're another way that you can attract supporters.
  • Feel free to contact us. Thank us for what we write, or tell us when you don't like what we write. I can't guarantee that it'll change anything (or, for that matter, that we'll reply in a timely manner... I'm awful at that). But it will show that you're paying attention and are interested. It boosts our little blogger egos, and, who knows, maybe you'll learn something new too. (For Walberg Watch specifically, if you don't want to contact all of us with the Google Groups address, check the user profiles to see if we have our personal e-mail addresses listed.)
There are any number of lists like mine in the progressive blogosphere, and probably plenty that are better. All I'm saying is, if you want to beat Tim Walberg, recognize the potential resource you have available to you, just like he has.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

2008: David Nacht?

Yesterday was the Michigan Democratic Party convention in Detroit, where the 7th Congressional District received plenty of love and attention from the state party. The Associated Press (through the Detroit News) brings us this:

Some GOP lawmakers who won their congressional districts faced tougher-than-expected challenges that underscored a tough climate for Republicans nationally. That got the attention of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is targeting districts won by GOP Reps. Tim Walberg of Tipton and Joe Knollenberg of Oakland County's Bloomfield Township, Brewer said.

"The Democrats in those two districts demonstrated without any national help that those two districts are winnable," Brewer said.

I couldn't make the convention, nor could any other Walberg Watch contributors, unfortunately. [UPDATE: Apparently, Doug was at the convention. My mistake.] If any readers were there (and attended the 7th District caucus), I'd love to hear your thoughts on how it went.

Perhaps more important, though, is that a new Democratic candidate emerged: David Nacht.

In south-central Michigan's 7th District, potential candidates include state Reps. Mike Simpson and Martin Griffin in Jackson County, former Rep. Doug Spade in Lenawee County and organic farmer Sharon Renier, who lost to Walberg in November.

Though many Democrats attending the convention didn't say whether they're considering a run, one did: David Nacht, an attorney and township trustee outside Ann Arbor, said he will run in the 7th District.

"The district is in play for Democrats," said Nacht, who called himself a moderate Democrat. "I'm someone who will fight for workers' jobs."

This is the first time I've heard his name as a candidate. He's got an impressive biography, from his law firm's website:

David Nacht, the firm founder, holds degrees from Harvard College ('87) and The University of Michigan Law School ('92), where he served as an editor of the Law Review. Prior to attending law school, Mr. Nacht served as a staff member to former U.S. Senator John Glenn on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, where he organized committee hearings and assisted the Senator in negotiating the passage of multiple pieces of legislation.

Mr. Nacht started the firm in January 1996 in Ann Arbor, after previously practicing law at Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C. - Michigan's largest law firm. Nacht also clerked for a federal district judge, Stewart Newblatt, in the Eastern District of Michigan. Mr. Nacht has published articles on employment law and a book chapter on ethics in government. He often speaks locally on legal and ethical issues, and speaks regularly as a guest lecturer at the University of Michigan Law School. He has served as faculty for the American Bar Association Health Law section and formerly chaired the Washtenaw County Bar Association Employment Law section.

Currently Mr. Nacht serves on the board of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, the boards of several non-profit organizations and community groups, and is an elected Scio Township Trustee.

Nacht is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and is admitted to practice before federal district courts in Michigan, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court. He is also member of the American Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, Michigan Bar Association, and the National and Michigan Employment Lawyers' Associations. David specializes in Employment Law, Sexual Harassment, ERISA, Commercial Litigation, Education Law, Constitutional Law, and Land Use disputes.

(Emphasis added.)

Nacht was elected as a Scio Township Trustee in 2004 with 4,891 votes-- the second-highest total for the four elected trustees. Fellow Scio Township Trustee Chuck Ream ran for the Democratic nomination in 2006. In 2002, he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Michigan House, 52nd District, losing to Pam Byrnes by less than 1,200 votes. Byrnes lost in the fall of 2002, but won in 2004.

On January 16, 2007, a David Nacht joined the Jackson Democratic Party Meetup group, a group which also includes 2006 candidates Sharon Renier, Fred Strack, and Daryl Campbell. He has done work with the ACLU and Planned Parenthood in the past, and the FindLaw lawyer directory lists Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, and Labor Law among his areas of practice.

That, plus his history of campaign contributions, is what 15 minutes of Google searches could find. He looks like a good person and could be a strong candidate. If you know more about him, please feel free to share in the comments.

UPDATE: The Battle Creek Enquirer now has an article about David Nacht up. Also, thanks to everyone in the comments and especially those of you that contacted me via e-mail with your thoughts on his candidacy.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Walberg at

Sunday morning, the conservative featured an essay by Congressman Walberg (mistakenly published as by "John Campbell" because of a problem on the website). began as a project of the Heritage Foundation, and is a very conservative online community. Read the Wikipedia article, but just for an idea of how conservative the website is, I'll add this: many of the comments criticized Walberg for being too moderate in his rhetoric. Yes, this is the same Tim Walberg we all know here in the 7th District.

Anyway, Walberg shared with his readers his thoughts on reclaiming the Republican brand and moving beyond the negative connotations apparent during the 2006 election. The whole article is worth reading, only because it offers a glimpse at his thought process. I'll be sharing just a few highlights, and my own thoughts.

I agree with my respected House colleague Mike Pence, who often says Republicans lost the majority in Congress last year "because we walked away from the limited government principles that minted the Republican Congress."
Pence, Republican from Indiana, is a fellow member and former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, a conservative caucus of House Republicans devoted to pushing their party leadership further to the right. He's another favorite of the Club for Growth, and is a "rising star" in the conservative wing of the GOP, and has even been suggested as a potential (though unlikely) presidential candidate for 2008.

Both Pence and Tim Walberg refer to their "limited government principles" and quote Ronald Reagan whenever possible. I can't speak to their personal relationship, but politically, they're kindred spirits.

Congressman Walberg then complains about a lack of leadership in the party, which is odd, considering his willingness to accept President Bush's policies in Iraq without any questions. He then proceeds to list four core principles of governance, which he feels will lead his party to success.

- Bring fiscal responsibility back to Congress

Just as American families in my district make difficult decisions every day to ensure their budgets are balanced, Congress must operate within its means and reduce federal deficit spending.

Really? This sounds like the sort of thing he said last summer, but it's not the way he voted in January! If he's serious about this, why didn't he vote to support making the earmarking process more transparent? Why didn't he support new rules that would require new spending to be accompanied with a revenue source?

The thing is, he's not actually interested in fiscal responsibility. If he were, he would recognize that sometimes, tax increases are necessary. Instead, he just wants to cut taxes and cut spending he doesn't like.
Congress should immediately make strides to bring long-term entitlement spending under control. By expanding personal investment accounts for retirement savings and allowing people more control over their health care, we will restore financial stability and foster wealth accumulation in our programs.
Entitlement spending is Social Security and Medicare, mostly. In other words, Congressman Walberg supports efforts to privatize those programs-- efforts that were such a bad idea that few in his party support them any more Both Congressman McCotter (MI-11) and former Congressman Schwarz came out against the plan. Rather than explore the possibility of re-examing who receives benefits and possibly raising payroll taxes, Walberg embraces a bad privatization plan (which, by the way, did nothing to financially secure the institution).

- Conduct ourselves with the highest ethical standards

Recent Congressional scandals have diminished the reputation of Congress in the eyes of the American people. In order to restore public trust, we must remember that serving constituents is the primary responsibility of an individual in Congress.

This, I agree with. Congress should be the best and brightest leaders of America, standing for what they feel is right, not what will benefit their buddies in X industry. When it comes to ethics, a member of Congress should follow the rules to the letter, and then go out of his way to avoid even the slightest hint of impropriety.

But then, this is coming from Tim Walberg, who had an ethics complaint filed against him from Day One, and who's still got issues with the Club for Growth and the FEC.

I'm just saying...

- Defend America's hard-earned freedoms

While it is important to acknowledge mistakes have been made in Iraq, we must ensure that the war on terrorism is not fought on American soil.

As the war in Iraq is debated further in Congress, I expect to be writing a lot more about this in the future. For the moment, I'll just say that I have yet to meet anyone who sincerely believes the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq has made us safer.
We also must work to improve our broken immigration system by pursing policy initiatives that toughen border security and end illegal immigration.
Those of you that have been reading this blog since the beginning may remember Tim Walberg's immigration position and the support he received from the Minutemen.

- Pursue effective and innovative solutions to problems we currently face without expanding the size and scope of government

Despite our minority status, Republicans can play a major role in policy debates during the 110th Congress.

We should take a look at policies that will make health care more accessible. Residents of my district continue to stress to me that they want health care decisions to be made by patients and doctors, not by the government and insurance companies.

The thing about government making health care decisions is a false argument, for starters. No proponent of universal health care is saying that they want a bureaucrat to step in and say, "No, you're not going to have surgery, you'll be fine with an asprin!"

There's a case to be made for innovation and efficiency in government, but what Walberg wants is to cut the Department of Education, block any efforts for effective universal health care, and cut taxes so low that government is forced to give up its responsibilities.

It's all part of his view of the role of the federal government: As far as he's concerned, you're on your own.

That's his vision for the Republican Party.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

The DCCC on the Iraq Resolution

I received this e-mail from the DCCC. It is a shame that we don't have a Representative that we can be proud of. Instead we get Tim Walberg

Dear Doug,

Democrats campaigned on the promise to take America in a new direction -- both at home and in Iraq.

We have kept our promises.

In less than 100 Hours, House Democrats delivered: passing legislation to raise the minimum wage, voted to invest in stem cell research, fought to lower student loan interest rates, break the link between lobbyists and legislation, took on the drug companies to make prescriptions more affordable, cut subsidies to Big Oil, and invested in alternative energy sources.

This week, House Democrats fulfilled another promise -- to hold an honest and open debate on the war in Iraq and to hold the Bush Administration accountable for its mismanagement of the Iraq war.

United in support for our troops who are bravely serving in Iraq, Democrats voted today to oppose the President's escalation plan. Republicans simply Rubber Stamped the President's Iraq policy and refused to hold the Bush Administration accountable for its failures in Iraq.

Given the chance to stand up for our troops and ask the tough questions that have long gone unasked and unanswered, Republicans used their time for more hollow partisan attacks and stay the course rhetoric.

Baseless and distorting, Republicans offered up nothing more than shameless name calling:

"...History will not focus on your voting for the resolution authorizing the force, but they will long remember you unleashing the hell that is going to come in Iraq by voting for this resolution." (Rep. Latham, IA-04)

"Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged." (Rep. Young, AK-AL)

Democrats want to move us in a new direction -- and are working everyday to make that a reality. The days of the Rubber Stamp Congress are behind us and the Democratic Majority is demanding a plan, accountability and answers.

Our newly elected members spoke honestly about the change they are bringing to Washington:

"Walking in my own combat boots, I saw first hand this Administration's failed policy in Iraq. I led convoys up and down "Ambush Alley" in a Humvee without doors -- convoys that Americans still run today because too many Iraqis are still sitting on the sidelines ...We must make Iraqis stand up for Iraq -- and set a timeline to start bringing our heroes home." (Rep. Murphy, PA-08)

"We can and must do better by our soldiers... Our soldiers are trained to fulfill their mission without question. We as civilian leaders have a duty to question it on their behalf. For the past four years this Republican-led Congress has failed in their duty." (Rep. Walz, MN-01)

"If my 31 years in the military taught me anything, it was that we serve in this all-volunteer military to defend Americans' freedom to think as they please and to say what they think, even if they disagree with their leaders..."(Rep. Sestak, PA-07)

Our troops and our country deserve better than the Republicans' stay the course strategy. As this debate ends, I can assure you the conversation is only just beginning. I hope you continue to stay with us.


Brian Wolff
Executive Director

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Lesson in Grammar

Yeah, you read that right. A lesson in grammar.

I've always made fun of English majors-- let's face it, it's hard not to-- and most of the time, I can handle people using poor grammar. After all, language ought to be dynamic, allowing for changes in structure to reflect changes in culture.

What I will not accept, however, is deliberate misuse of grammar for political purposes. You might argue that this is probably the least important thing for me to criticize, and you might be right. Still, I feel the need to point it out.

In his "Weekly Wrap-Up" for February 16, Congressman Walberg begins with this:
This week Members of the House debated a non-binding resolution introduced by the Democrat leadership disapproving of the new strategy in Iraq. Sadly, the measure passed the House 246-182.
(Emphasis added.)

Now, there's a lot that's wrong with this "Wrap-Up," mostly centered around his framing of the war in Iraq-- he asserts, among other things, that the reason we're fighting in Iraq is that, if we don't, the terrorists will attack America. I don't even know where to begin with that.

But that will come in a different post. Instead, my problem today is with his "Democrat leadership" thing.

See, a Democrat is a person-- me, for example. It's a noun, defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as follows:
Function: noun
1 a : an adherent of democracy b : one who practices social equality
2 capitalized : a member of the Democratic party of the United States
See, it even says it right in there. It's a noun. It denotes a member of the Democratic party.

How about Democratic? Merriam-Webster says this:
Function: adjective
1 : of, relating to, or favoring democracy
2 often capitalized : of or relating to one of the two major political parties in the United States evolving in the early 19th century from the anti-federalists and the Democratic-Republican party and associated in modern times with policies of broad social reform and internationalism
3 : relating to, appealing to, or available to the broad masses of the people <democratic art>
4 : favoring social equality : not snobbish
The second definition there is a little lengthy, but here's what I get from it: "party" is the noun, as the political institution. "Democratic" is the adjective that indicates which party. And "Democrat" is the individual member. Together, "Democratic Party" and "Republican Party" form proper nouns-- the specific names of two less specific entities.

It can then be reasoned that "leadership," meaning Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, and others as a single entity, is a noun. To denote which leadership, one can use either "majority" or "minority," or, in this case the adjectives "Democratic" or "Republican."

Now, I really didn't need to go through all that. Everyone should understand the differences between nouns and adjectives, and "Democratic leadership" just sounds more natural. But I just wanted to emphasize the fact that I've got the dictionary on my side this time.

So why did Congressman Walberg use "Democrat leadership" instead? I'm certain he knows the difference-- he's a smart man. And he's also a very polished politician. At the Siena Heights debate last fall, he came across as a very articulate, very careful speaker, the sort that chooses his words very carefully.

And when he chose "Democrat leadership," I suspect he did so because of the very definitions I cited above. "Democratic" is a beautiful word that conjures images of peace, tranquility, and cooperation. It's why the name was chosen for the party early in the 1800s, and it links the candidate that carries the label with a host of positive ideals.

Of course, in politics, you never want that. You want your opposition to be as far away from positive ideals as possible. It's nothing new-- Wikipedia tells us that the phrase "Democrat party" has been used by some since 1890, including Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and everybody's favorite, Joe McCarthy. Recently, it was used by President Bush during the 2007 State of the Union Address, which caused quite a stir.

But the thing is, it's wrong. I can understand occasional mistakes, because I make them all the time. But the intentional misuse of a word for political purposes bothers me. It shows that Congressman Walberg and others who do this aren't interested in an honest debate and governing the country. They're interested in politics for the sake of politics.

If there actually are any English majors out there reading this, feel free to point out anything I got wrong (especially my grammar). I'm a math major, after all.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Walberg Votes to Support Escalation

Today, the United States House of Representatives sent a clear message to President George W. Bush, expressing their disapproval of his plan to escalate the war in Iraq. Voting 246-182, the House passed H. Con. Res. 63. It will now proceed to the Senate.

As was expected, Tim Walberg voted No on the resolution.

H. Con. Res. 63 reads as follows:

Disapproving of the decision of the President announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

    Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That--
      (1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and
      (2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.
    Although non-binding, it serves as the first step toward action in preventing an increase in troop levels in Iraq and preventing further loss of life in Iraq. Two Democrats voted against the resolution, while 17 Republicans crossed the aisle and supported an effort to change the course in Iraq and avoid a disastrous escalation. Among them was Michigan Republican Fred Upton (MI-06).

    Representatives were allowed five minutes each to state their position on the resolution and advocate a position. These five-minute speeches varied from well-reasoned thoughts on the war to ridiculous statements and assertions-- notably, Congressman Don Young (AK-At large), who called for all those supporting the resolution to be "arrested, exiled, or hanged." (Young claimed to be quoting President Abraham Lincoln; however, Lincoln never said anything like that.)

    While not as ridiculous, Congressman Walberg's speech on the subject was equally insulting to those of us that wish to honestly, openly debate President Bush's escalation. Rather than argue about the merits of the plan, this is the best Walberg could offer:
    “I rise today to honor America’s brave men and women currently serving in the name of freedom and oppose this resolution of retreat.
    (Emphasis added.)

    The resolution does nothing to advocate retreat-- indeed, it states support for "America's brave men and women" and only disapproves of President Bush. To misrepresent it is foolish.

    Congressman Walberg has demonstrated today that good government is not his goal, and that he does not believe oversight should be exercised over the executive branch and its failed policies. Instead, he embraces the insulting politics of deception, simply assuming his constituents are too simple-minded to read the resolution for themselves.

    Walberg owes his constituents and the men and women in uniform an apology for misrepresenting the issue for political purposes.

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    Thursday, February 15, 2007

    Tim, I haven't a clue, Walberg

    Tim Walberg had his five minutes to respond to the President's plan for a troop surge in Iraq. His words are posted on the Battle Creek Enquirer's web site. I give them to you in full.
    “I rise today to honor America’s brave men and women currently serving in the name of freedom and oppose this resolution of retreat.

    “As Abraham Lincoln said famously in his Second Inaugural Address, ‘Fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.’

    “As Americans we are reluctant warriors, but throughout our rich history, whenever our troops have been in harm’s way, America has supported the men and women in uniform and made certain our troops have the necessary resources to accomplish their mission.

    “Without a doubt, mistakes have been made, and these mistakes are important to acknowledge, but we must go forward with a new strategy in Iraq based on quantifiable goals and measurable results. We must not retreat.

    “At this critical time, the American people long for true leadership and resolve, and I urge my colleagues to put aside political posturing and partisanship and ensure our troops have the resources and support needed to complete their mission. Victory is the only option.”

    I love this, "but we must go forward with a new strategy in Iraq based on quantifiable goals and measurable results. We must not retreat." What goals and results is he talking about? I can't keep track, they change all the time. New strategy? Sending 20,000 more troops is not a new strategy it is the same failed strategy just on a larger scale.

    the American people long for true leadership and resolve." Yes, we do Congressman Walberg. Unfortunately we are not getting it from you or the President. We are getting it from the Democrats in the House and Senators like our own Carl Levin.

    Congressman thank you very much for this weak simple minded statement. This may be all we need to send you back to Tipton.

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    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    Tim Walberg anti labor

    On the Conservative web site Human Events there is an interesting article that quotes Walberg, House Dems Seek Passage of Pro-Union Bill. The Bill is H.R. 800 Employee Free Choice Act. If this is a "pro union bill" and Tim Walberg is against it,
    Rep. Tim Walberg (R.-Mich.) told HUMAN EVENTS that EFCA "takes away what we as citizens have come to expect in our country, which is an opportunity that when we have an election or polling that its free and private. Going to the card check-off is neither a producer of freedom nor of privacy."
    then Tim Walberg must be Anti Union.

    This is what the AFL-CIO has to say about the Bill,

    The Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800), supported by a bipartisan coalition in Congress, would level the playing field for workers and employers and help rebuild America’s middle class. It would restore workers’ freedom to choose a union by:

    • Establishing stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations.
    • Providing mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes.
    • Allowing employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.

    Another reason why we must have a new Representative in Congress.

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    Tuesday, February 13, 2007

    The Power of Blogging

    I'm a big believer in the power of blogging and internet-based activism to promote positive, progressive change, especially through political campaigns. The goal is for this humble little blog to be a major source of information for the 2008 Democratic nominee for the 7th District, and for anyone eager to elect someone besides Tim Walberg.

    Simply put, I feel that this medium has a great deal of potential.

    As it turns out, apparently Congressman Walberg feels that way, too.

    Rep. Tim Walberg was the featured guest at today’s Conservative Bloggers’ Briefing at the Heritage Foundation. Walberg, who toppled liberal Republican Joe Schwarz in the GOP primary last year, is one of only 13 Republican freshmen elected last November. He brings to Washington a solid record as a state legislator and businessman.

    Although he’s only been a member of Congress for one month, Walberg has made it a point to reach out to bloggers. He spent time with a group of us at the Heritage Foundation’s Conservative Members Retreat in Baltimore, and he reached out a larger group today.

    Walberg said bloggers played an important role during his campaign — in both the primary and general election. He said he reads blogs daily, and his aides, Chief of Staff Joe Wicks and Press Secretary Matt Lahr, regularly circulate material from blogs to him. Walberg urged the group to embrace the technology as a way of keeping the news media in check and the Republican Party focused on conservative issues.

    That's from the blog of Robert Bluey, who is the director of the Center for Media & Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation, according to his biography.

    So Tim Walberg is reaching out to conservative bloggers? And meanwhile, liberal bloggers are taking an interest in the district as well, at large sites like MyDD, Swing State Project, and Daily Kos? Could Michigan's 7th be the place where the left- and right-wing blogospheres battle it out in 2008?

    It'll be an interesting campaign.

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    Iraq Escalation Resolution

    The House is debating President Bush's plan to escalate the war in Iraq this week. Here's the Democratic resolution:

    H. CON. RES. 63

    Disapproving of the decision of the President announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

      Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That--
        (1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and
        (2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.
      (Thanks to Nirmal at Capital Viewpoint)

      As Congressman John Conyers (MI-14) notes, this resolution, thanks to the rules of the House, will put everyone on record as either supporting or opposing President Bush's plans for escalation. None of this criticizing-the-plan-then-blocking-a-vote stuff we've seen from the Senate.

      Does the position this resolution takes have support? Yes, according to the latest polls (here and here, for example).

      Will Congressman Tim Walberg support it? So far, no public statements have been made relating directly to this resolution. But here's what he said after President Bush's State of the Union message:
      "I support the president's determination for victory and feel it is imperative we provide American men and women in combat with resources that will enable them to come home safe and victorious. The war on terrorism is the calling of our time, and we cannot shirk our obligation to protect our families and nation from the enemies of freedom."
      And, while he wouldn't comment specifically on any resolutions, here's what he told The Hill:
      Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) said he supports the president’s “determination for victory and [feels] it is imperative we provide American men and women in combat with resources that will enable them to come home safe and victorious.”
      And here's what he said when he got the question, "Do you support a withdrawal from Iraq? If not, what future course do you see?" at the Siena Heights University debate last year:
      - "We too easily forget 9/11" [Audience begins booing], "We too easily forget the bombing of the USS Cole"
      - Terrorism still an important issue
      - No cut and run, must stay in Iraq
      - The Iraqi army is working
      So, why isn't Walberg's position the best position for Iraq? Why shouldn't we just support President Bush's plans?
      The new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq starkly delineates the gulf that separates President Bush's illusions from the realities of the war. Victory, as the president sees it, requires a stable liberal democracy in Iraq that is pro-American. The NIE describes a war that has no chance of producing that result. In this critical respect, the NIE, the consensus judgment of all the U.S. intelligence agencies, is a declaration of defeat.
      (Emphasis added.)

      That's an op-ed in the Washington Post titled "Victory Is Not an Option" by Lt. Gen. William Odom, President Reagan's NSA Director. His is just the latest voice to speak against President Bush's-- and Congressman Walberg's-- plans for Iraq.

      Contact Tim Walberg, and encourage him to vote for H. Con. Res. 63, and against the wasteful, terrible strategy that the White House is about to embrace.

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      Sunday, February 11, 2007

      Walberg and Faith

      We all know that Tim Walberg is a minister-turned-politician, and I personally have no problem with people of deep religious faith being political figures. A minister offers a different perspective on an issue, and that's good. Joe Schwarz-- a doctor-- offered a different perspective, too, as does Vern Ehlers, a physicist, and Bart Stupak, who was a police officer.

      That said, something doesn't sit right with me after reading this article from the World magazine. The World, for those not familiar with it, is a far-right evangelical weekly news magazine.

      In an interview with the magazine, one reads this:
      At a time when some conservative religious leaders are questioning the marriage between evangelicals and the Republican Party, Rep. Walberg has found unity between his religion and political interests. "Politics is just another format that can be used as a place of intentional ministry," Walberg told WORLD. "Christians can be involved in influencing their culture here [in Washington]."
      (Emphasis added.)

      See, that's what doesn't sit right with me. We elect our representatives to serve the interests of their constituents, not to spread their religious beliefs. I have no issue with religion helping to shape your views on issues. My problem is with someone acting like a minister when he should be a legislator.

      At the very least, Walberg's statements in the interview show that he's not at all interested in reaching out to "secular liberals" in his district like me, who are uncomfortable with such rhetoric. But we're all too busy supporting Hollywood and undermining Christian values, right? (To be fair, I've never heard Walberg himself say that. Others, though...)

      Religion should to be a private experience, to be shared with loved ones. It shouldn't be something you highlight in public to certify your credentials as a good, moral person. And it definitely shouldn't be your motivation to seek public office. But, of course, that's just my opinion.

      Go and read the whole article. It's pretty short, but it's worth reading.

      Now, at the risk of being called a hypocrite myself, I'll leave you with this:
      (Matthew 6:5-6)

      "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

      "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."

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      Friday, February 09, 2007

      Walberg and the Role of Government

      So, I was looking through Congressman Walberg's official House website earlier, figuring that, after receiving media attention, his office may have completed more pages, including his issue positions.

      Unfortunately, while we can see which issues may matter to him, his positions on them are not clear. The one exception, as of this moment, is the issue titled "The Federal Government's Role". Here's what Walberg says:
      The federal government has two primary roles. First, the government must protect our nation from foreign enemies. Second, the government must preserve the rights and freedoms in the founding documents so people can use their abilities, ingenuity and hard work to assist their families, community and nation.
      Hmph. Two roles, eh? National security and preserve rights and freedoms.

      There are a few important things he didn't mention, I think. First, straight from the Constitution, the powers of Congress:

      Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

      To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

      To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

      To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

      To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

      To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;

      To establish post offices and post roads;

      To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

      To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

      To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

      To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

      To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

      To provide and maintain a navy;

      To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

      To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

      To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

      To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;--And

      To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

      Now, it's true, Walberg did say the primary roles of the federal government. And, also true, national security gets a fair amount of attention-- declaring war, raising an army, etc. And, in the modern world, post offices and piracy on the high seas (Arr!) might not seem all that important.

      At the same time, there are some pretty important things specifically mentioned as powers of Congress that I think ought to get a little attention from Walberg. Regulating foreign commerce, for example, should be a big one for any Michigan representative. And then there's "To promote the progress of science and useful arts." Walberg says he recognizes the need for promoting renewable energy, right? Well, what can and should the federal government do about it?

      Incidentally, trade, the economy, and anything having to do with industry are all absent from Walberg's issues list, as are any mentions of science and the arts. But don't worry, "Life," the Second Amendment, and Tax Relief are all there. I bet those three are the issues you spend all your time thinking about.

      UPDATE: 13 Feb. 2007-- As noted in the global warming post below, it looks like Walberg's website has a few new issues listed now, including "Economy." Still no content, but it's a start. Was it because of my little blog? Well, I doubt it, but it'd be nifty if it was.

      And there are also the implied powers which the government exercises (for the strict constructionists out there, try here for starters).

      I try to always build toward a point of some sort when I write these posts, but I'm afraid I don't have a clearly defined one tonight. Mostly, something about Walberg's view of the federal government struck me as wrong. Where's Social Security and Medicare? Where's regulating businesses for fair competition and honesty? He wants to protect you from foreign enemies and from infringing on your rights. Is that it? Does he feel no more compassion?

      This is what Walberg writes:
      The federal government has two primary roles. First, the government must protect our nation from foreign enemies. Second, the government must preserve the rights and freedoms in the founding documents so people can use their abilities, ingenuity and hard work to assist their families, community and nation.
      But this is what he's really saying:

      As far as I'm concerned, you're on your own.

      Anyway, that's my take on it. Share your thoughts on Walberg, the Constitution, and the role of the federal government in the comments.

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      Tuesday, February 06, 2007

      Appropriations, 2007

      I should have mentioned this sooner, as it certainly counts as a significant vote by the House. On January 31, the House voted on HJ Resolution 20, with the creative title, "Revised Continuing Appropriations for FY 2007". Sounds exciting, doesn't it? The bill passed 286-140.

      Tim Walberg voted No. This time, 57 Republicans joined the Democrats in voting yes (including Michigan Republicans Fred Upton (MI-06), Mike Rogers (MI-08), Candice Miller (MI-10), and Thad McCotter (MI-11)), while just 2 Democrats voted against it.

      So what was this bill? I'll tell you now, I'm probably going to do an awful job explaining it, because my understanding of the complicated budget process is limited. Feel free to tell me if I'm wrong on any of this.

      See, when Democrats campaigned during 2006 calling the GOP-led 109th Congress a "do-nothing Congress," they weren't joking. There are 11 appropriations bills Congress passes during a normal year to fund the federal government. Last year, the 109th passed just two of those nine for fiscal year 2007.

      Taking control, the Democratic leadership had a choice: either they could spend their time fighting over what to spend and cut in a fiscal year we had already started, derailing all of the new ideas they wished to propose, or they could pass the bill Congressman Dave Obey (D-WI) authored with Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV). They chose the latter.

      This bill essentially continues all the spending from FY 2006 into 2007, staying within the same budget limits. In addition, it eliminates all earmarks for this year.

      Is it the ideal budget bill? Of course not. But, here's what Congressman Obey says:
      “The most fundamental obligation of the Congress is to decide what activities the government needs to engage in and to provide the financing for those activities. When last year’s Congress walked away leaving the budget process uncompleted they ducked that obligation and left their mess for us to clean up,” said Obey. “I don’t expect people to love this proposal, I don’t love this proposal, but at least we’ve made the hard choices necessary to bring last year’s issues to a conclusion so we can turn the page and deal with next year’s priorities.”
      (Emphasis added).

      By leaving those nine bills unfinished, the 109th Congress and its Republican leadership were guilty of dangerous, negligent behaviour.

      Congressman Walberg, by voting no, voted to support such behavior. Strangely, by voting no, he also voted against eliminating earmarks. Wasn't that a big deal back in the primary?

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      Monday, February 05, 2007

      Climate Change and Republican Disbelievers

      By now, I'm sure everyone has heard something about the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (news coverage here, for instance).

      Global warming is a real, serious problem, and Al Gore isn't the only one saying it. The key item from the report:
      The report is the panel’s fourth assessment since 1990 on the causes and consequences of climate change, but it is the first in which the group asserts with near certainty — more than 90 percent confidence — that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from human activities have been the main causes of warming in the past half century.
      What does this have to do with Tim Walberg? After all, this is a political website, so it's not the place to debate the science of it, nor is it the place to discuss potential consequences. Frankly, I'm not qualifed for that sort of discussion, and I'm guessing most readers aren't either.

      However, if the most serious consequences of global warming can be averted, it will take governmental action to change the human activities which have caused the build-up in greenhouse gases. Congressional Democratic leaders have promised to make the issue a priority. What will Republicans in Congress-- especially Tim Walberg-- do?

      I wasn't able to find any statements by Walberg on the subject, but I read something today that was somewhat disturbing. It's a poll by National Journal, asking members of Congress the question, "Do you think it's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of man-made problems?" What are the results?

      Democrats: Yes - 95%. No - 2%
      Republicans: Yes - 13%. No - 84%

      (Thanks to Think Progress)

      Comments offered by Republicans that took part in the poll ranged from bashing Al Gore to discussing the phrase "beyond a reasonable doubt." Congressman Mike Rogers and Congressman Peter Hoekstra were both part of the sample group.

      So what does Congressman Walberg think? Does he feel that 90 percent cconfidence is "beyond a reasonable doubt"? I've sent him an e-mail asking, and will post his response if and when I receive one. Feel free to ask him about it yourself (or about anything else, for that matter-- he works for us).

      Though, this isn't an encouraging sign: Walberg's Issues page (a work-in-progress, so far with little substance) lists subjects like "Life" and "Second Amendment," but does not include "Environment." To his credit, "Energy" is listed.

      UPDATE: 13 Feb. 2007-- I don't know if my little post here had anything to do with it, but it looks like Walberg's website has a few new issue pages, including one on the environment. Still no content, but it's a start.

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      Walberg on Health Care

      In a recent article in the New York Times about our little district and the possibility of a Schwarz/Walberg rematch in '08, there was an interesting quote I found near the bottom of the article from Joe Wicks, Walberg's chief of staff: “He [Walberg] is going to work on increasing access to health care and move toward energy dependence” Why is this such an interesting quote? Well frankly because of what Walberg has said in the past about health care, and Walberg's main backers, The Club For Growth's views on health care.

      As reported by Fitzy right here, when Walberg was asked was asked if Americans had the right to universal health care in last cycle's debate he responded: “Absolutely not. It's not a right, it's an opportunity we have." How do you get more access than universal health care? Then in an op-ed in the Lansing State Journal, he wrote “Medicare changes look like Hillarycare,” in response to the bill that passed the house (which Walberg voted against) to allow Medicare to bargain with drug companies to get lower prices. In this article he states the good ol' Pro Big-Pharma line on this bill that it will limit drug choices for seniors. Oh, and his idea to lower health care costs, tort reform. (Haven't we heard that before?)

      When I first had an the idea of writing a post on Walberg views on health care, I found little online about Walberg's views on this ever increasing issue in our country. Then I realized I could search for the next best thing, how The Club For Growth views health care. I figured an organization that backs Walberg so aggressively, must think that he represents their views. So what does The Club say about health care?

      Here are a few quotes I found from Steven Moore, The Club's Founder:

      “…Every American taxpayer knows full well the fiscally catastrophic impact of programs like Medicare, Medicaid and other blank-check redistribution programs.” on Medicare

      “There is no excuse for creating an entitlement for prescription drugs; it will inflate federal debt, rob money from future generations and socialize health care.” on prescription drugs.

      On the main page of their web site, The Club today criticizes John Edward's universal health care plan in an article titled: “John Edwards Wants to Raise Your Taxes.”

      Health care is a major issue in this country and it is goint to take more than changing the out come of health care lawsuits to fix this problem.

      By the way, Walberg's Issue's page only has a Press Release about blood drives filed under Health Care.

      If anyone knows of any more information on this topic please let me know!

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