Monday, April 30, 2007

NCLB and Education; Comments?

The Citizen Patriot reports today that Congressman Walberg will not be voting to reauthorize President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" education legislation when it comes up, instead favoring the "A-PLUS Act" ("Academic Partnerships Leads Us to Success Act"). The Citizen Patriot promises more in tomorrow's issue.

First, I'll take a moment to say that I hate the name "A-PLUS". Seriously, when did laws have to get cute little names just to be able to pass? Next, someone will write a bill with an acronym of "AMERICA," because no one will want to be on record voting against America! This is ridiculous.

Anyway, "A-PLUS" can be found here. It was initially sponsored by Michigan Republican Peter Hoekstra, and has been cosponsored by Walberg and 54 others-- all Republicans, and 32 of them are members of the Republican Study Committee (the far-right conservatives within the Republican caucus).

"No Child Left Behind" is certainly a flawed law, but I'm afraid I don't know enough about the details yet to take a serious stance on it or the bill Walberg supports. Are there any educators out there (or others with knowledge on the issue) who could provide some more information? I'd love to hear what you all think as I begin to educate myself on education.

Comments, anyone?

By the way, in case you're wondering who your representative has been hanging out with, watch this hilarious interview Stephen Colbert did with fellow cosponsor of "A-PLUS" and fellow member of the RSC, Congressman Lynn Westmoreland.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Life in Congress

The Battle Creek Enquirer has two "puff pieces" about Congressman Tim Walberg today, entitled "Walberg focuses on constituent care" (with a corresponding video) and "Twelve-hour days don't faze lawmaker". They each comment on what life is like for the Washington politician, with long days, tight schedules, and limited time at home in the district.

I don't necessarily mind these sorts of pieces-- it's interesting to get that sort of inside look sometimes, even if it's written in a way full of nothing but praise. I do worry that this could be a gesture of some good press by the Enquirer because of Walberg's scuffle with Susan Demas, but I'm certain that the paper will continue it's fine reporting on the substance of Walberg's politics.

For all our disagreements with Congressman Walberg, and really all political figures, we need to remember that they are doing a very difficult job, and deserve at least a little credit for being able to make it through to the end of the day. Mind you, I do think someone else (perhaps with a little "D" following his or her name) would do a much, much better job.

If you enjoyed those Enquirer pieces and you're curious to learn more about life as a member of the United States House of Representatives, I'd encourage you to check out the book "
Freshman Orientation: House Style and Home Style" by Edward I. Sidlow, a professor at Eastern Michigan University. Sidlow followed former Congressman Joe Schwarz-- the previous representative of Michigan's 7th District-- throughout his term in office, from the 2004 campaign to the 2006 election results.

There's some politics, but mostly it's an excellent look at how Congress functions on a daily basis, and what we're putting people through when we vote for them. Check it out.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Walberg Votes Against Troop Funding, Withdrawal... Again

When the House passed a supplemental spending bill for military operations in Iraq, it included a proposed timetable for withdrawal of American troops. After reconciling the bill with the version the United States Senate passed, it was voted on again. This new version passed, 218-208.

As was expected, Congressman Walberg voted No, opposing any effort to end the war in Iraq.

... Ah geez. This is my last post for tonight. I think I've caught up with where things are at for the most part, but now I'm kind of tired.

Feel free to comment on Iraq and Congressman Walberg. I'm going to go and relax. Too much blogging for one day.

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DC Voting Rights - Walberg Votes No

More catching-up on what Tim Walberg has been up to...

The city of Washington, D.C., has an estimated population of 582,049. For purposes of comparison, the state of Wyoming has a population of only 515,004. Wyoming has two voting members of the United States Senate and one voting member of the United States House of Representatives. The District of Columbia has just one non-voting delegate to the House. Meanwhile, unlike residents of Puerto Rico, Guam, and other U.S. possessions, D.C. residents are subject to all laws and taxes that any other American must face.

Clearly, there's something that isn't quite right. There have been plenty of attempts to solve the problem, with limited success. The latest effort came with HR 1905, the "District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007."

It passed, 241-177. Twenty-two Republicans joined the Democratic majority in support of the bill.

Congressman Tim Walberg, meanwhile, doesn't seem to have a problem with nearly 600,000 Americans (in the capital city, no less) having no voice in their government. He voted No, as did every other Michigan Republican except Congressman Fred Upton, who joined the Democrats in support.

Here's how it would work: the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives would be increased to 437 from 435, and D.C. would receive one of those seats. It would be a voting member, equal in every way to every other member. D.C. would still have no representation in the Senate.

The other seat, meanwhile, would go to the state that was closest in line to receiving another representative after the 2000 census-- Utah. Yes, the far-left District of Columbia and the far-right Utah are working together.

"Can they do that?" you ask. Well, sure. We now turn to the Constitution, Article I, Section 5:
Section 5. Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties as each House may provide.
In other words, the House gets to decide who its members are.

Okay, so it's not that simple. After all, Section 2 says:

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.

No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.

And that seems to say that its members come from states, and exclusively states. That's one interpretation, anyway.

If the Senate passes the bill and President Bush signs it (which he probably won't), it'll certainly head to the courts, where minds much smarter than you or I will decide. But I find it disappointing that Congressman Walberg wouldn't embrace an opportunity to correct a fundamental flaw in our government, giving a significant population a voice.

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Walberg Opposes Empowering Shareholders

Suppose you were an average, ordinary worker at an average, ordinary company. Maybe you are. How much do you think you'd be making per year? $25,000 each year? $35,000? $45,000?

What if you were making $184,000? Wouldn't that be incredible? Well, yes. But while all of us could use the money, it would probably be more than an average, ordinary job really deserved. But that would be what you could make, if the rate at which employee pay increased over the last 25 years was the same rate that CEO pay increased at. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported a few years ago, the average pay rate for those in charge of the top American corporations has gone from $479,000 to $8.1 million over the last 25 years.

Is that a little ridiculous? Are executives overpaid? I would say yes. But then, I'm not a CEO.

Now, are you a shareholder in a major American corporation whose CEO has received a ridiculously high paycheck? Wouldn't it be great if you could have some sort of voice in the matter?

That's what HR 1257, the "Shareholder Vote on Executive Compensation Act" would do. It would allow those that own stock in a company to have an advisory vote on these sorts of matters.

The bill passed, 269-134. Fifty-five Republicans joined the vast majority of Democrats in supporting the bill.

Needless to say, Congressman Tim Walberg voted No. Joining him were Michigan Republicans Thad McCotter and Mike Rogers.

It's clear that the Club for Growth made a good investment. It's just too bad the residents of Michigan's 7th District will never see the dividends.

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Honoring An Environmentalist? Walberg Votes No

Just six days after voting No on a resolution expressing support for World Water Day, Congressman Tim Walberg cast another interesting vote for those of us interested in discovering his environmental stances.

Rachel Carson is, in many ways, the mother of the environmental movement. Her efforts-- particularly through her book, Silent Spring-- helped alert the nation to the harm we were (and are) causing our environment, often unintentionally. She was a scientist and loved nature. When she discovered that the pesticide DDT was causing the deaths of many animals (especially birds, and including humans), she went up against chemical companies to change the way we use pesticides, and encourage more thoughtful, environmentally-friendly actions. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work.

Why am I talking about Rachel Carson? Really, I shouldn't be. Not on this blog. But I'm curious to know what Congressman Walberg thinks of her.

See, there's this post office in Springdale, Pennsylvania. Congress likes to name federal buildings-- especially post offices-- after important people as a sign of appreciation, and because it's a gesture that doesn't really cost anything. It is, quite simply, the least Congress can do to recognize someone. The post office in Springdale, Pennsylvania, will soon be the Rachel Carson Post Office Building.

The United States House of Representatives passed that bill, HR 1434, with a vote of 334-53. There were 117 Republicans that joined a united Democratic caucus in supporting the bill.

Tim Walberg voted No. Michigan Republicans Thad McCotter and Candice Miller also voted against it.

I really have no idea what to say to that.

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Walberg Opposes World Water Day

An anonymous commenter shared this:


Here is a simple resolution the House passed on April 17th. It supports the ideals of World Water Day, encourages the administration, through appropriate agencies, to continue to ensure our poor have access to clean drinking water, and encourages the American people to observe the day. It passed 393-22.

With widespread support like that, it would be appropriate to label any opposition as fringe and out-of-touch. What does our Congressman have against World Water Day? Those who voted "no" correlate pretty close with the Club for Growth members. Our state is surrounded by water, why not take a day and encourage everyone to learn more about it. Here is the text of the bill:

H. Res. 196

In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

April 17, 2007.
Whereas the global celebration of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro;

Whereas the United Nations General Assembly, via resolution, designated March 22 of each year as World Water Day;

Whereas although water is the most widely occurring substance on earth, only 2.53 percent of all water is freshwater and the remainder is salt water;

Whereas freshwater resources are further impaired by various forms of industrial, chemical, human, and agricultural pollution;

Whereas climate change will increasingly pose a challenge for ensuring the availability of sufficient water supplies at the appropriate times;

Whereas approximately one in six people in the world lack access to safe drinking water and approximately two in every five people lack access to basic sanitation services;

Whereas water-related diseases are among the most common causes of illness and death, afflicting primarily the poor and very poor in developing countries;

Whereas up to five million people die each year from preventable water and sanitation related diseases, including one out of every five children in the poorest countries;

Whereas every $1 invested in safe drinking water and sanitation yields an economic return of between $3 and $34, depending on the region;

Whereas increasing access to safe drinking water and sanitation advances efforts towards other United States development objectives including fighting poverty and hunger, promoting primary education and gender equality, reducing child mortality, promoting environmental stability, improving the lives of slum dwellers, and strengthening national security;

Whereas the participants in the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, including the United States, agreed to the Plan of Implementation which included an agreement to work to reduce by one-half from the baseline year 1990 `the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water,' and `the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation' by 2015; and

Whereas Congress passed and the President signed into law the `Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005' (Public Law 109-121) which was intended to `elevate the role of water and sanitation policy in the development of U.S. foreign policy and improve the effectiveness of U.S. official programs': Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) supports the goals and ideals of World Water Day;

(2) recognizes the importance of increasing access to safe drinking water and sanitation, as well as the conservation and sustainable management of water resources, to human health and quality of life across the globe;

(3) urges an increased effort and the investment of greater resources by the Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development, and all relevant Federal departments and agencies towards providing sustainable and equitable access to safe drinking water and sanitation for the poor and very poor; and

(4) encourages the people of the United States to observe World Water Day with appropriate recognition, ceremonies, activities, and programs to demonstrate the importance of water to humanity.
That resolution can be found here. The vote was, indeed, 393-22, with Congressman Walberg casting one of the very few No votes. He and Congressman Pete Hoekstra, also a Republican, were the only members of Michigan's House delegation to vote against the bill.

Seriously, Congressman Walberg, what was wrong with this? It's a symbolic resolution saying, basically, that the United States House of Representatives thinks that it's a good idea to have safe, clean drinking water.

Congressman Walberg, why do you oppose clean drinking water?

I'm going to engage in some baseless speculation, and suggest that maybe this line had something to do with it:
Whereas climate change will increasingly pose a challenge for ensuring the availability of sufficient water supplies at the appropriate times;
Walberg has remained silent on the issue of global climate change-- the most significant environmental issue facing the planet today. Odd, considering that he has even gone so far as to label himself "an environmentalist" when speaking about his efforts on behalf of the Great Lakes.

Congressman Walberg, did you vote against recognizing World Water Day because you don't believe developing countries should have clean drinking water, or because you deny the threat of global warming?

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Walberg Coffee Hours

I'm trying to catch up a little bit, and I'm sorry for the infrequent posting lately... Hopefully that will change.

This was sent along to me, and I thought it would be worth sharing with all of you. It would be great if there were a strong showing of people there to hold Congressman Walberg accountable. Ask him the tough questions.

Saturday, April 28

8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Walberg to hold Spring Arbor Coffee Hour

Evelyn Bay Coffee Company. 7851 Spring Arbor Rd. Spring Arbor.

10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Walberg to hold Summit Township Coffee Hour

Knights Steak House & Grill. 2125 Horton Road . Jackson .

12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Walberg to participate in Jackson Service Club Booth Tour

Jackson Crossing. Jackson .

2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Walberg to hold Delta Township Office Hours

Conference Room 106. Great Lakes Christian College . 6211 West Willow Highway . Lansing .

I suppose it is nice to see him somewhere other than Hillsdale and Lenawee Counties for a change.

If you attend one of these events, let me know, either through e-mail or in the comments. I'd love to hear about it.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

MDP Petition for Walberg

An e-mail from the MDP:

Thank you to the hundreds of people who signed the petition last week telling Republican Congressman Tim Walberg to stop rubberstamping Bush's failed Iraq War policies. With your help, we can make it thousands.

Tell your friends to sign the petition.

If you haven't signed the petition, please sign it now. The more people that sign the petition, the more powerful it becomes. Walberg already knows he is in for a tough election in 2008. He does not want any more focus on his support for the very unpopular Iraq War.

Sign our petition and help put the pressure on Walberg to stop his rubberstamping of Bush's failed Iraq polices.

Last Friday President Bush came to Michigan to continue to promote his failed Iraq war strategy. Bush is no longer calling for 21,000 more troops, he is now calling for 30,000 more troops. How many more troops will he call for tomorrow? We must tell Walberg to stop supporting the escalation of the war. Enough is enough.

We need to spread the word that Walberg's support for escalation must stop.

Jason Moon

Communications Director, Michigan Democratic Party
Click here for the Michigan Democratic Party's page devoted to Congressman Tim Walberg.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Walberg Supports Liberian Refugees

A change of pace for today, folks. I have something good to say about Congressman Tim Walberg.

On April 19, 2007, Congressman Walberg (R-MI) introduced the "Liberian Refugee Immigration Protection Act of 2007," bipartisan legislation created with Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Keith Ellison (D-MN). The bill would allow refugees from Liberia currently in the United States as on Temporary Protected Status to apply for Permanent Residency status.

For those unfamiliar with the history, Liberia is a country on the west coast of Africa, founded in 1821 by former American slaves. It's capital, Monrovia, is even named for President James Monroe. In recent decades, Liberia has suffered through tragic, long-lasting civil wars, the subject of amazing documentaries and books. This is something Americans should be aware of, and tragically aren't.

This is a bill Congressman Kennedy has been introducing every year since 1998, and it has repeatedly been rejected by a Republican-controlled Congress. Perhaps a different majority will yield better results.

I'd like to thank Congressman Walberg for supporting this legislation. It's not a matter of left-wing versus right-wing, it's simply a matter of human compassion. Personally, I think the United States needs to take a much more active role in Africa, especially Liberia. But this bill is one step toward correcting many, many injustices.

This is the subject of Walberg's "Weekly Wrap-Up," which is actually worth reading, for a change.

The Liberian Refugee Immigration Protection Act of 2007 addresses an urgent situation faced by Liberian refugees who have legally come to America (many over a decade ago), established careers, bought homes, raised American-born children and become valued members of their communities.

Currently, all Liberian refugees living in the United States under Temporary Protective Status have until October of this year, and then they will be forced to return to Liberia.

My wife Sue and I have a unique personal story which led us to become involved in this issue.

For almost a year, we had a Liberian refugee stay in our home. This gentleman came from dire circumstances in Liberia, as his wife was brutally assaulted and he was beaten and forced to leave his country. He still has scars from when he was beaten with the blunt end of a rifle.

During the time our friend lived in our home, we developed an appreciation for his culture and were deeply moved by his commitment to his family and his homeland. He pursued higher education and worked several jobs so he could send financial assistance back to Liberia.
I'm certain that this is a fascinating story, and, frankly, I'd be more interested in learning more. I only wish Congressman Walberg could have a personal experience with representatives of other people in need-- including, perhaps, the millions of illegal immigrants in this country that, through a different set of circumstances, are working hard to support their families and enjoy the educational resources America has to offer. If Walberg got to know a few of them in the same way, perhaps he'd be more forgiving and open in his immigration policies.

But that's a different issue, and I'm straying from the point. Thank you, Congressman Walberg, for supporting a good, solid piece of legislation that should have been passed years ago.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Walberg Punishes Journalist for Good Reporting

[UPDATE] The article included below was just Thursday's preview of the full column, which is now on the Enquirer's website. Go check it out. My favorite part:

It's not personal. It's just a bad public relations move, typical of a staff composed of 20-something "Jesus Camp" counselors who almost managed to lose the general election to Sharon Renier, a chicken farmer with $1.03 in the bank.

They're not ready for primetime.


Susan Demas (now at the Battle Creek Enquirer) was probably the most prolific and professional journalist in the 7th Congressional District to cover the 2006 election. She's always been fair to all candidates-- even when I might wish she were a little more harsh on Walberg. Her articles on Tim Walberg have been cited on this blog again and again, and, at one point, she and I were briefly in contact for a possible story that never ran.

In hindsight, I suppose it was only a matter of time before Tim Walberg saw that she was, you know, reporting the truth about him. We can't have that, can we?

An anonymous reader was kind enough to include this in the comments. I hope Susan Demas and the Enquirer won't mind if I repost the whole comment-- which includes the text of an article that appears in today's issue.

Anonymous said...

I know Fitzy is on a trip, so I figured I'd bring this to everyone's attention. It is an article today discussing Walberg's fundraising for the first part of the year. For those of you in other parts of the District, you will still be getting news coverage, but those of us who read the Enquirer are finally free from the daily embarassment---

Article published Apr 19, 2007
Demas: Walberg haunted by specter of Schwarz
Susan J. Demas
The Enquirer

Truth is, I was dying to read about U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg’s Black History Month legislation, even though the press release didn’t arrive until March.

But alas, I’ve now been stripped of the privilege of at least 23 Walberg e-mails clogging my inbox each day. That means, loyal Enquirer readers, that I may not be able to apprise you of the Tipton Republican’s valiant scraps to lower taxes, protect traditional marriage and restore the Great Lakes.

It seems a recent story hit a nerve. Not when I quoted Walberg insisting Iraq is just as safe as the body armor-free streets of Detroit. That was kosher.

This was the remark by Walberg’s aides didn’t want you to read:

“Our goal is to make a real strong (financial) showing in the first quarter, so people like Joe Schwarz back off.”

Well, he didn’t. And the specter of Schwarz, whom the conservative preacher edged out in the 2006 GOP primary, still seems to be breathing down his neck.

Schwarz, 69, has returned to his surgical practice and is playing coy, saying he’ll decide this summer whether to take another stab at Congress. The Battle Creek native has been busy with stuff like investigating Walter Reed as a member of the blue-ribbon Pentagon panel.

But he clearly remains the No. 1 threat to Walberg’s job security.

My punishment from Fort Walberg was swift and severe.

“I took you off the (media) list,” his spokesman informed me this month, “because the congressman has decided he will no longer talk to you.”

That hurt. Congress’ 423rd most powerful member and I have been through a lot together since last year’s venomous, cash-chucking race. Walberg even posted some of my stories on his campaign Web site, which was even better than seeing them hang on my mom’s fridge.

Once, a grandmotherly supporter mistook me for the 56-year-old’s trophy wife. Good times.

(Emphasis added.)

"The congressman has decided he will no longer talk to you." Hm.

That, my friends, is certainly the reaction of a mature, seasoned politician that is perfectly secure in his seat. Obviously he's not worried at all.

Really, this is going to be a problem for him somewhere along the way. I mean, if he won't talk to people that report, you know, facts, getting his message out is going to be a lot harder. If the local press is against you, it doesn't matter how much help the Club for Growth gives you.

Needless to say, while Walberg might not want to talk to Susan Demas anymore, I do, and I'd encourage every candidate considering running in 2008-- Democrats, Republicans, or others-- to take their stories to the Battle Creek Enquirer first.

Unlike Tim Walberg, I support freedom of press and good, honest journalism (which is more than just reprinting press releases). Walberg is punishing Susan Demas and the Enquirer. Potential candidates, I think you should reward her for doing a good job. The same goes for the DCCC, the MDP, and all the various groups that may be hurt if Tim Walberg's ideas ever made it into law.

(By the way-- I'm back from Chicago, but I'm busier than ever. I promise regular posting to resume... sometime soon.)

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Walberg 1Q Fundraising

I was about to leave my computer and head off to Chicago when I realized it was April 15. You know what that means? It means Tim Walberg's 2007 First Quarter fundraising numbers are available on the Federal Election Commission's web site!

Yeah, I get excited about this sort of thing. It's kind of sad, really.

If you recall, following Walberg's Iraq comments, this is what he had to say regarding fundraising:
Political analysts have said Walberg’s remarks could hurt his 2008 election fundraising, something the congressman shrugs off.

“Our goal is to make a real strong showing in the first quarter, so people like Joe Schwarz back off,” Walberg said after Rove’s remarks.
Now, I don't think Joe Schwarz is the only one they need to worry about. But more importantly, did Walberg scare anyone off? From the FEC:

Total Receipts:$148,273
Transfers From Authorized Committees:$0
Individual Contributions:$45,311
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Committees:$90,668
Contributions from Party Committees$0
Candidate Contribution:$0
Candidate Loans:$0
Other Loans:$0

Total Disbursements:$26,341
Transfers to Authorized Committees:$0
Individual Refunds:$0
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Refunds:$0
Candidate Loan Repayments:$0
Other Loan Repayments:$0

Beginning Cash:$37,961
Latest Cash On Hand:$159,893
Debts Owed By:$0

Among the non-party organizations that contributed, we see some familiar names, like the "Declaration Alliance Minuteman Civil Defense Corps PAC." We've also got some other interesting groups. COALPAC, for instance... so much for alternative energy. Oh, and how about Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that's closing up shop in Ann Arbor, leaving many Michigan workers (including many in the 7th District) without jobs. Maybe Walberg's vote against allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices had something to do with that one...

So, about $160,000 cash-on-hand. Significant, yes. Insurmountable? No. Enough to scare everyone away? Definitely not.

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Skubick on Joe Schwarz

I'm not a big fan of Tim Skubick, but last Friday's column in the Lansing State Journal is worth checking out. In it, he ponders the possibility that former Congressman Joe Schwarz may run again... and as a Democrat.

Schwarz may switch parties. As a Democrat, he could theoretically run for his old 7th Congressional District seat, which he unceremoniously lost to GOP right-winger Tim Walberg last summer.

The Battle Creek physician is a moderate dinosaur in the GOP that stopped embracing moderation when former Gov. Bill Milliken left town 30 years ago.

Skubick is absolutely right, there. Tim Walberg and his allies in the Republican Party have shown that moderates are no longer welcome. Democrats, meanwhile, even the "left-wing blogger fringe," have been embracing both progressives and moderates. (If you didn't watch it in January, check out moderate Democratic Senator Jim Webb's response to the State of the Union. This is a good sample of what the Democratic Party stands for.)

Anyway, Skubick continues...

The list of those who want the affable Dr. Schwarz to change include U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and his younger brother, U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin. The wife of veteran U.S. Rep. John Dingell, Debbie, has been pushing Schwarz to flip for more than two years.

But he is not there yet. He confesses there is less than a 50-50 chance he will change. And for some other Democrats, that's fine with them.

Skubick proceeds to mention Jim Berryman, a likely Democratic candidate and friend of Joe Schwarz.
Schwarz says he and Berryman are "close friends" but that does not mean Schwarz will automatically step aside. He'll make his decision on party affiliation in June.
Personally, I don't think he'll switch, and I'm not convinced that he'll run, as a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. But if he did run as any of those, it would be interesting to watch.

Now, I'm off to Chicago for a few days, and won't have much computer access. Congressman Walberg, try not to do anything too newsworthy!

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Walberg Ignores Constituents

From the mail bag: more evidence that Walberg would rather ignore uncomfortable complaints from his constituents. I hear that Walberg ignores unfriendly constituent letters as well.


Yesterday afternoon (April 9), I got an automated phone call at home, recorded in Walberg's voice, that he was going to appear at my township hall this afternoon (April 10) from 3:30 to 4:30PM. This was going to be at the Lodi Township hall, northwest of Saline. He was going to "visit and talk" with his constituents. I was wondering how this came about because nothing on his website indicated he was going to be anywhere NEAR Ann Arbor or Saline. Given the short notice, the only folks I could imagine being able to see Walberg at the drop of a hat and with little notice would be retirees, housewives, or maybe even the township-hall-full of Republican drones that were elected to the township positions.

Talk about a friendly audience. I would have had to either call in sick or make up some bald-faced lie to get out of work and see Walberg and give him my two cents worth on his (incredibly horrid and Bush-rubber-stamping) voting record, his comments on Iraq and Detroit, and his non-sensical comments about Democratic party "tax increases". Or for that matter, I'd just like to WHOP him upside the head. But I couldn't get the chance to do so.

If I was any more paranoid, I'd almost suspect that he staged this "visit" as to not meet REAL progressive-minded voters and only visit his loyal, Bush-loving, fundy base.

Not that I'm bitter or anything....

Mark Druckmiller
Saline, MI

Our thanks to Mark for the note and the info.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

10,000... and counting

I hate writing about Walberg Watch instead of Tim Walberg, but I was excited when I saw this:

That's over 10,000 visits since starting this in mid-August. For a little blog about a no-name politician that's got next to no power in Washington, I'd say that isn't bad.

There's a lot of Walberg-related stuff out there right now that I should mention, but I've been a little busy and not really in the mood to blog lately. But I couldn't let this moment sneak by without mentioning it.

Thanks for visiting, and here's to 10,000 more this year!

UPDATE: This is probably my favorite comment since starting this blog. Seriously, I just started laughing and couldn't stop.
Anonymous said...

I just like to see what the kook fringe is saying about the best Congressman in Michigan!

"Best Congressman in Michigan"... Heh. That's funny.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Jack Lessenberry on Mark Schauer

I really like state Senator Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek). If he ran for Congress, he'd definitely shoot to the top of my personal preference list. It's not just that he reaches out to bloggers, or that I'm a partisan Democrat. I like Schauer because he comes across as a genuinely hard-working, decent person that's doing the best job he can for his district and Michigan.

But as Senate Minority Leader, Schauer is not running for Congress. I really don't have any reason to write about him on this blog-- I'm not urging a "Draft Schauer" effort at all, I'm happy with the potential candidates I see-- but for as much as he's mentioned in connection to this district, I thought I'd mention this.

Jack Lessenberry interviewed him today for Michigan Radio, and then did his essay commentary afterwards. As is often the case, Lessenberry's thoughts are interesting to listen to, and I'd encourage everyone to check it out.


Tim Walberg and Nancy Pelosi

At a recent town hall meeting our great Congressman Tim Walberg commented on Speaker Pelosi's recent trip to Syria. This from the Adrian Daily Telegram,
Fred Gallagher, a former Republican candidate for state representative from Adrian, expressed his concerns about the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., especially her current trip to Syria. Walberg said her being the speaker is the result of last fall’s election.

“She is the speaker, and she is the third heartbeat away from the presidency,” Walberg said. “I’m living with it and making the best of it.”
What Walberg failed to do was set the record straight. He did not bother to inform Mr. Gallagher that Republicans also have gone to Syria. Congressman Walberg why are you not concerned about your Republican colleagues going to Syria? Is it because you got your talking points from the White House? This from the New York Times,

President George W. Bush criticized Ms. Pelosi’s visit today during a news conference at the White House. He said the visit sent “mixed signals” that “lead the Assad government to believe they are part of the mainstream of the international community, w
n in fact they are a state sponsor of terror” and supporter of anti-Israeli militants like Hamas and Hezbollah.

“Sending delegations hasn’t worked,” Mr. Bush said. “It’s just simply been counterproductive.”

This from Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV)
Rahall said, “The Speaker had met with President Bush in the halls of the U.S. Capitol just the day before we left and mentioned to him that we were going to Syria. No response at all from the President.”
Tim Walberg is just another rubber stamp Republican.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

News Roundup - Berryman and Power Rankings

Later today, I'll write a post on last night's town hall. Turnout was more than I expected, but the event was kind of disappointing... I didn't get a chance to ask any questions, for one, and Walberg definitely took advantage of the friendly audience. I'm guessing a town hall in Battle Creek or Jackson would have gone a little differently.

Today, the Battle Creek Enquirer brings us two articles of interest.

Congressman Walberg is, apparently, one of the least powerful members of the House of Representatives, according to

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg has almost nowhere to go but up in Congress, based on the “power rankings” of a nonpartisan Web site.

Walberg, R-Tipton, tied for 423 with U.S. Rep. Bill Sali, R-Idaho, out of the 435 House members on the list compiled by Among the 52 freshman representatives, the two tied at 40.

That's to be expected, of course, since Walberg is a freshman. The full rankings are here, and Walberg's page on is here.

Bill Sali, who is tied with Walberg, is an interesting character himself. He was another Club for Growth candidate, winning the primary and the general election with their help. His politics are very similar to Walberg's.

I don't want to change the focus of this from a Walberg blog to a Sali blog, but there are a few things worth sharing. For instance, this is what the Republican Speaker of the House in the Idaho state legislature had to say about Bill Sali:
"That idiot is just an absolute idiot. He doesn't have one ounce of empathy in his whole fricking body. And you can put that in the paper."
The Club for Growth knows how to pick its candidates, eh?

Now, from that to a more hopeful article. Former mayor of Adrian and former member of the state Senate Jim Berryman is in the news once again, discussing a possible campaign in 2008.

ADRIAN — An old Democratic foe of U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg is considering a 2008 run against him for Congress.

Former state Sen. Jim Berryman of Adrian said he has begun talking with supporters to see if he can raise the $2 million to $3 million necessary to challenge the freshman lawmaker.

(Emphasis added.)

If Berryman can raise that kind of money, that'll definitely make this the race to watch. I don't think that much money would be absolutely necessary to win-- after all, Sharon Renier almost won on $60,000-- but that's the kind of money I'd love to see a Democrat raise (especially if it were from in-state sources, unlike Walberg's $1.2 million last time).

Can Jim Berryman raise that much? We'll just have to see.

The article continues:

Berryman, 60, who lost a 1988 state House race to Walberg, said a basic philosophical difference separates the two men.

"Tim will tell you less government, less government, less government," Berryman said. "... I don't believe in abuse and waste, but I do believe there's a role for government."

Asked about Berryman's possible run, Walberg spokesman Matt Lahr said his boss has other concerns, such as tax relief, Great Lakes restoration and education reform.

"We're all focused totally on 2007," Lahr said.

(Emphasis added.)

"Focused totally on 2007"? Then why did Tim Walberg himself say that first quarter fundraising was important to try to scare off Joe Schwarz? I think maybe they're a little more worried about 2008 than they let on.

UPDATE: The Adrian Daily Telegram has a front-page article on Jim Berryman in today's issue, alongside their coverage of last night's town hall. Unfortunately, the Telegram has the worst website for a daily newspaper I've ever seen, and the article probably won't be available online until tomorrow.

That said, it's a fairly good read, which is surprising, given the soft coverage they've given to Walberg.

UPDATE II (8:12 PM): Perhaps my criticism of the Telegram was a little harsh, but I still think an article ought to be available online by the time people are reading it in print. But that's just me. Here's their piece on Berryman.

Some excerpts:
ADRIAN — Former state senator and Adrian mayor Jim Berryman says he will decide in two or three weeks whether to run in 2008 against U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton — the man who defeated him in a 1988 bid for the Michigan House.

“I’m looking very seriously at it,” Berryman said Tuesday. “I look forward to that. Tim and I have a long political history and we are at opposite ends of the political spectrum.”

Berryman served as Adrian’s mayor from 1985 to 1990, before being elected to the state Senate for eight years. He defeated incumbent Sen. Norm Shinkle, R-Monroe, for the seat and served in the Senate while Walberg was representing Lenawee County in the state House.
“It would really be a genuine debate between two political philosophies,” Berryman added. “I just don’t think his views reflect the majority of people in the district. Tim is trying to take us too far to the right.”
Also, there are a couple factual inaccuracies elsewhere in the article. Walberg is beginning his fourth month as a member of Congress, not completing his fourth month. Also, Nick Smith represented the 7th District up through the first days of January, 2005-- while he might have announced his retirement in 2003, he didn't actually retire in 2003.

But now I think I'm just being picky. The Telegram is a fine paper for what it is, despite the occasional error and a little conservative bias.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tim Walberg's First Three Months in Office

First was the Walberg Watch report, now the one that matters...

On January 4, 2007, Timothy Walberg (R-Tipton) was sworn in as the new representative of Michigan's 7th Congressional District. Tomorrow is April 4, 2007, and Congressman Walberg will have completed the first three months of his term in office, or roughly one-eighth of his term.

Here's a summary of how his term has gone so far. Later, I'll go through and add hyperlinks to support everything I've listed. For the moment, however, this should be a good resource for anyone looking to oppose Congressman Walberg in 2008 (hint, hint), or if you're going to his town hall meeting in Adrian tonight (HINT, HINT!). Lots of questions you could come up with from all this.

Voting Record

For a complete voting record, see the Washington Post “Votes Database”—

Walberg voted No on making the earmarking process more transparent and on PAYGO rules, which would require new spending to have some source of funding to pay for it.

Walberg voted No on implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Walberg voted No on raising the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade.

Walberg voted No on allowing federal funding for stem cell research—an issue for which former Congressman Joe Schwarz was a passionate advocate.

Walberg voted No on allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

Walberg voted No on reducing subsidies for already profitable oil companies and fixing an error in royalties, which will save the government $1 billion.

Walberg voted No on a resolution expressing the House of Representatives' disapproval of President Bush's escalation of the war in Iraq. In other words, Walberg voted to support the escalation.

Walberg voted No on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which increases protection for those federal employees that expose mismanagement and abuse.

Walberg voted No on the Accountability in Contracting Act, which adds transparency to the process of awarding federal contracts to private companies.

Walberg voted No on authorizing increased federal funds for housing for low-income victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Walberg voted No on a supplemental spending bill for the war in Iraq, which included a target date for withdrawal of American combat troops.

Walberg voted No on improving security for the country's rail and public transportation systems.

Walberg voted No on a plan for the 2008 Federal Budget, which would result in a federal surplus by 2012. Indeed, Walberg went so far as to mischaracterize the bill as a "$400 billion tax increase," when in fact it raises no taxes. Instead, the bill merely assumes the temporary Bush tax cuts will expire in 2010, as the cuts were designed to do when a Republican-led House of Representatives passed them.

Bills Sponsored

So far, Walberg has only sponsored one bill—H. Res. 225—to congratulate Jackson native Tony Dungy on leading the Indianapolis Colts to victory in the Super Bowl. The bill has yet to be scheduled for debate.

Issue Advocacy

What issues have been Congressman Walberg’s top priorities?

Building the Republican brand

For the conservative website, Congressman Walberg wrote an essay in which he outlined his plans for leading the Republican Party to electoral success. Included in the essay was support for privatizing Social Security.

Mixing Religion and Politics

In an interview with World magazine, Walberg said that, to him, “Politics is just another format that can be used as a place of intentional ministry.” Since then, he has also joined the “Congressional Prayer Caucus.”

What issues have been neglected?


Congressman Walberg’s official House website contains explanations of his positions on various issues. Under “Agriculture,” one can read:

As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I look forward to meeting with and addressing the needs of south-central Michigan farmers.

… And that’s all.


With no official position listed on his House website, Walberg has largely ignored environmental issues. Although he was part of a larger group working toward Great Lakes restoration, Congressman Walberg supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and has made no public statements on global warming—indeed, in a recent poll of members of Congress, 84 percent of Republican lawmakers denied that human activities were a factor in climate change.

Health Care

Regularly one of the top issues for voters—as has even been observed by Congressman Walberg—health care has received very little attention.

Voting against a bill to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, Walberg wrote an op-ed in which he dismissed the plan as a step toward socialized medicine. However, his only action on the issue was a brief message encouraging people to donate blood—a legitimate message, but hardly a step toward solving the country’s health care crisis.

Media Attention

What kind of attention has Congressman Walberg received?

Iraq and Detroit

Claiming to be speaking for returning soldiers, Walberg said that “…80 to 85% in a conservative fashion, of the country [Iraq] is reasonably under control at least as well as Detroit or Chicago or any of our other big cites.”

This comparison prompted considerable criticism, including suggestions of racist motivations. He attempted to defend his comments:

“There was nothing racist about it,” Walberg said. “I meant it as a compliment to people in Detroit and Chicago. Aren’t there white people in Chicago? Aren’t there white people in Detroit?

(Emphasis added.)

The incident has helped Walberg gain the attention of news media across the country, including CNN’s The Situation Room and Fox News, and he was mocked by Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report.

In response to his comments, the Port Huron Times Herald published an editorial refuting his assertions. An excerpt:

Then there's another point: Walberg is wrong. Flat wrong.

Iraq is not like Chicago. It is not like Detroit.

In the four years since the war began, 1,576 people have died violently in Detroit. About the same number have died in Iraq thus far this month.

Detroit is measurably less violent than it was a decade ago. The opposite is true in Iraq, where the number of civilian deaths and bombing attacks have risen sharply in the past year. By summer, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq will exceed the size of the original invasion force in 2003.

It is worrisome that a member of Congress, even a novice member, could be so out of touch with reality. It raises a question: Was Walberg merely shilling for the president and peddling false hope about a war gone wrong, or is he really this dense?

(Emphasis added.)

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Reminder - Walberg District Stops

Just a reminder... Tomorrow are Congressman Walberg's only three announced district stops. If you can make it to Hillsdale, Jonesville, or Adrian, stop by and tell Walberg how you feel about the job he's been doing.
Tuesday, April 3

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Walberg to hold Hillsdale Coffee Hour

The Gathering. 2 N. Howell Street. Hillsdale.

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Walberg to hold Jonesville Office Hours

Marcella’s. 202 E. Chicago Street. Jonesville

6:00 p.m.

Walberg to hold Lenawee County Town Hall Meeting

Old Courthouse Commissioner’s Room. 301 N. Main Street. Adrian.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Walberg Watch - First Quarter 2007 Report

It's April 1st, and the first three months of 2007 are over. This week, I'll be posting a "report card" of sorts for Congressman Walberg's performance in the first quarter of the year, but first, I'd like to take a brief look inward at Walberg Watch. This will probably be a pretty dull post, but I think it's important. If you want to skip over the traffic stuff, there's a fundraising appeal toward the end of the post.

First, there's the posts us Walberg Watchers are producing. From the first post on August 11, 2006, to December 31, 2006-- a four-and-a-half month period-- there were 65 blog entries. In the first three months of 2007, we've managed 68 entries. Without a doubt, this increase is because of the addition of other contributors... prior to the 2006 election, this was a one-man show.

Then there's site traffic. Here's the monthly data, from August to April 1st:
That sharp drop-off at the end isn't a sudden decline in interest, but just a reminder that it's only the first day of April.

So it isn't DailyKos, but I think this traffic is fairly impressive, especially for a local blog with a very narrow focus. There's been considerable growth, especially after Congressman Walberg does something to get himself noticed by the media-- winning the election, for example, or comparing Iraq to Detroit.

Part of the reason the traffic is growing is from the location of Walberg Watch when you do a Google search on "Tim Walberg". The blog has been alternating for a few months between fifth and sixth listed, after only Walberg's Wikipedia entry, his official House site, his campaign site, and a National Journal profile. There's an awful lot of traffic from people searching for more information about Walberg.

There has also been considerable traffic from the "" domain name, mostly during the week when the House of Representatives is in session. Any given day might see five to fifteen visits from that domain. That's a nice little ego boost for me.

... And another ego boost, of course, came with the first traditional media coverage of Walberg Watch. I had actually been contacted once during the 2006 campaign by a newspaper reporter, but that story was never published. To anyone in the print or broadcast media that's interested, we're certainly willing to talk. Not that I'm trolling for publicity or anything...

Looking Forward

So what's next for Walberg Watch? Well, the newest project is all about the money.
"There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money, and I can't remember what the second one is."
-- Mark Hanna
It's sad, but all too often, it's true. Money is what will make the difference in the 2008 election, and we've got to make sure Walberg's eventual opponent-- whomever that may be-- has the resources to compete. As part of that, I've created an ActBlue page for Walberg Watch readers to contribute to the ActBlue Democratic Nominee Fund for MI-07.

I've never done anything quite like this, and I'm not sure what to expect or what to ask for. So I'm going to start off with this goal:

Help me raise $100 for the Democratic nominee.

Yeah, just $100. Kind of small, I know. That could be as easy as $5 from 20 people, or $20 from five people, or any number of other combinations. I want to see how long it takes to reach $100 from the regular readers of Walberg Watch. Based on that, I'll be setting either quarterly or monthly fundraising goals, and posting regular updates. It could be fun!

In case you're wondering, I have not contributed through the ActBlue page... yet. It's not that I'm just tight with the (little) money I have. I'd also like to reach $100 without anything from me, so that I can see a clear picture of what I might be able to expect in the future.

So head on over and contribute a few dollars to a better future. Help make sure Tim Walberg won't be in Washington two years from now. Make a difference! Help me raise $100 for the Democratic nominee.

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