Thursday, June 07, 2007

My experience at Walberg's Town Hall

I had not planned on going to Congressman Walberg’s town hall meeting in Battle Creek on Monday as I had another meeting earlier in Jackson. I sure am glad that I went. Nick Schirripa from the Battle Creek Enquirer covered the basics, but there was a lot more that went on. It was clearly a friendly group that had gathered to hear Walberg. In my opinion way too much time was spent on immigration. I am not surprised as it is clear that Republicans think this is an issue that can divert attention from Iraq. This is what Nick and I were talking about when I said,
"I think he came across very well and gave answers that most of the people in the room wanted to hear," Murch said.
There were only four of us who challenged the Congressman on any issue. One lady was there to ask Walberg to support the creation of the Department of Peace. Walberg took this opportunity to compare the War in Iraq to Reagan and the Cold War. While he was polite the Congressman totally blew off this idea. There was one young man I wanted to talk to, but he disappeared while I was talking to Nick Schirripa. This young man challenged the wisdom of building a wall on the boarder comparing it to the Berlin wall and stated that he thought drilling for oil in ANWR was a waist of time, because of the amount of oil that is available there. Walberg stated that there were different opinions about the amount. The young man then said that he believed his facts. Walberg had no response.

My first question came during a discussion about gas prices, as quoted in the Enquirer,
Murch asked Walberg why he recently voted against legislation that would have allowed the United States to sue the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, for manipulating oil prices. The bill passed with bipartisan support, 345-72.

After Walberg said,
Walberg said "the market will do what the market does," and suing OPEC would mean little more than politicians "posturing and pontificating," when they should be looking for alternatives and decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
He then went on to complain about regulation and that it is too difficult to build a new refinery. I asked Walberg if there was not evidence that what was really going on was the oil industry had closed refineries to drive down supply and drive up prices? Walberg responded they would not do that because the markets work and they want to sell the gas. When I pressed him again on his no vote on the OPEC Bill, Walberg asked me how would I enforce it. I stated that the bill will put OPEC and the oil industry on notice that we will not stand for manipulating prices. Walberg then made a similar statement to one that was in the Enquirer.
Walberg said that under the plan, “consumers can expect longer lines at the pump, higher prices and less gasoline available during emergencies.”
I asked him what evidence did he have that this Bill would create long lines at the pump. Walberg then made reference to the OPEC oil embargo. I reminded him that the oil embargo was not a result of anything we did, but simply an attempt to drive down supply and drive up prices. (they wouldn’t do that would they?).

I then asked a second question.

Murch also asked Walberg about his comments a couple weeks ago in which he advocated drilling for oil under the Great Lakes.
What was not said in the article was that Congressman Walberg responded that the Democratic Party had taken his comments out of context. Walberg totally misrepresented what he had said about drilling under the Great Lakes. Listen for your self. Walberg would not answer a direct question. I asked him three or four times if he would support it

When Walberg was pushed if he would he support Great Lakes drilling if state and federal laws were repealed, he answered: "I don't deal in hypotheticals. You do that. I deal with reality."

I Then got he last question of the evening. I must give him credit that he did come back to me. I asked, you have mentioned ANWR and drilling under the Great Lakes, is there any place so environmentally sensitive that you would not risk drilling for oil,
Walberg said, he would support any environmentally-sound method for retrieving resources needed.
I then suggested that he should visit the Pratt Museum in Homer Alaska. There is a great exhibit about the Exxon Valdez accident. This is when Walberg shocked even me. He stated that there would not be a ship at ANWR. I reminded him that there would be a pipe line that would go somewhere. Walberg said that the Exxon Valdez was not related to the pipe line. When I said, if they had not been drilling on the North Slope there would be no pipe line and no ship to run aground. Walberg responded, “now we are talking about the chicken or the egg”. This comment makes it very clear that Congressman Walberg will cherry pick the science and will only look at the evidence that will tell him it is OK to drill. I can’t believe that there is any scientist who would say that the spilling of oil in Price William Sound was not an environmental impact created by drilling on the North Slope.

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regarding Walberg's change of tune on drilling under the Great Lakes, now you know what to expect.

Walberg has repeatedly made wild-ass, boneheaded comments. In the debate last year with Schwarz, Walberg said, very plainly, he would not hesitate to send US troops to Israel to help them defend themselves. When Schwarz took his turn, he said something like Israel won't ask us for help and if they did, I'd need to see the facts, and something like, "I don't deal in hypotheticals."

So, then Walberg realizes he's made a huge mistake, pledging to send our troops without reservation. He tries to spin it, for days. He rewrote his own quote, but never really admitted he made any such mistake.

He will lie and warp words to sit on the fence regarding drilling under our Great Lakes. When he is in a republican room, he will pledge to wack the tree-huggers and get that cheap domestic oil. Then when you ask a thoughtful question, he will tap dance.

Lets call it the Tipton Two-Step. Or the Wally-Wally Waltz. Maybe the Chicago Shuffle. Or, this is it, the Bullshitter Ballet.
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