Thursday, December 20, 2007

Odds and Ends

I haven't been doing a great job here lately, but hopefully that'll change in the near future. After a couple of stressful weeks, I took a bit of a blogging vacation. But I'm back.

I'll have plenty of Walberg Voting Record updates coming up, but for now, here's some stuff that should be posts on their own. Instead of giving all the topics the time they deserve, I'm going to try to run through them all in this post.

The DCCC has been kind enough to put me on their press release e-mail list. Here's some of what they've been sending me lately.
Representative Tim Walberg Puts Big Oil Ahead of Middle Class Americans

‘Gas Prices Hit a Record High’ is a headline Americans are all too familiar with these days. Rather than join the bipartisan solution to lower energy prices and end America’s dependence on foreign oil, Representative Tim Walberg voted yet again for Big Oil.

“Hardworking Americans are being squeezed by skyrocketing gas prices, high health care costs, and increasing college costs. Rather than relieve Americans’ pain at the pump, Representative Tim Walberg voted to keep spending our tax dollars on subsidies and tax breaks for Big Oil making billions of dollars in profits,” said Jennifer Crider, Communications Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Representative Walberg opposed a common sense, bipartisan energy plan that reduces America's dependence on foreign oil, lowers gas prices, and creates jobs.”


· The Energy Independence and Security Act (H.R. 6) will take groundbreaking steps toward ensuring America’s energy independence and national security, including the first increase in vehicle fuel efficiency in a generation [H.R. 6, #1140, 12/6/07].

· The measure will increase the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard for new cars and trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. This is the first increase in the fuel economy standard by Congress since 1975 and will reduce American oil consumption by 1.1 million barrels per day (roughly half of our current oil imports from the Persian Gulf).

o According to the American Automobile Association, drivers in Michigan currently pay an average cost of $ 3.01 per gallon at the pump []. This increase to the fuel economy standard will and save America’s families between $700 and $1000 per year at the pump and reduce America’s output of greenhouse gases equal to taking 28 million of today's average cars and trucks off the road.

· The measure will repeal the Bush Administration’s tax breaks for Big Oil companies and invest those savings in renewable sources of energy.

· The bill is supported by a wide range of leading business, labor, and environmental advocacy groups including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, The United Auto Workers, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters.
Representative Tim Walberg Opposes Middle Class Tax Relief for 23 Million Americans

Late last night, Representative Tim Walberg voted to raise taxes on more than 23 million middle class families across America, including 771,200 Michigan taxpayers who will be hit by the Alternative Minimum Tax in 2007.

“Representative Tim Walberg voted to raise taxes on 771,200 hard working middle class families in Michigan already squeezed by expensive mortgages, growing credit card bills, and skyrocketing gas prices,” said Jennifer Crider, Communications Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “This holiday season, Representative Walberg has given middle class families a giant tax bill to look forward to. Clearly, Representative Walberg values rubber stamping President Bush more than the middle class families he represents.”


* The Temporary Tax Relief Act (H.R. 3996) would cut taxes for 23 million middle-class Americans by providing them relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). [H R 4351, #1153, 12/12/07].

* According to Citizens for Tax Justice, an estimated 771,200 taxpayer’s in Michigan will be hit by the Alternative Minimum Tax in 2007.

* Additionally, the Temporary Tax Relief Act will expand the Child Tax Credit to provide tax relief to 12 million families with children

* Middle class tax relief is paid for in this measure, rather than the Republican plan that leaves it to future generations to pay for tax cuts.
Representative Tim Walberg Voted Against Community Policing

Despite the FBI reporting that violent crime has increased for the first time in a decade, Representative Tim Walberg opposed giving law enforcement in Michigan the resources they need to fight crime in our communities.

“Even with violent crime on the rise, Representative Tim Walberg voted against giving police and prosecutors the vital resources they need to keep Michigan’s communities safe,” said Jennifer Crider, Communications Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Keeping Michigan’s communities safe should be Representative Walberg’s highest priority, not Rubber Stamping President Bush’s proposed cuts to state and local law enforcement.”


* The Consolidated Appropriations Bill includes $2.7 Billion to help state and local law enforcement fight crime and keep communities safe [H R 2764; Roll Call Vote 1171]

* The measure also rejects the President’s proposed 94% cut to the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program and instead provides $587 million to fund COPS. This includes $20 million for the “COPS on the Beat” program, which hires more police officers and has not been funded since 2005.

· According to the FBI, violent crime in America increased in 2005 and 2006 for the first time in a decade. [LA Times; 12/19/06]
That's the DCCC's take on his votes. Perhaps biased? Maybe. But I am glad to see they're keeping the pressure on him as we approach November 2008.

Susan Demas has a column in a recent issue of the Battle Creek Enquirer that's kind of harsh on all fronts, criticizing both Congressman Tim Walberg and Michigan Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer. It's worth reading, even for those of us that might not agree with everything she says. Francis Pepper mentioned the column in a post below, but I wanted to point out something from the last couple of paragraphs:

Both candidates play the part of the principled politician to the hilt - Walberg as the über-conservative, anti-abortion warrior and Schauer as the bright-eyed, progressive reformer.

In reality, modest Mark takes his marching orders from the governor and the reverend's soul is the property of Club for Growth.

But wait, some of my liberal friends will yelp. You can't be saying Schauer would be as bad as the congressman.

Policy-wise, Schauer would certainly be a step up if he could manage to pen press releases without lying about snaring money for the Battle Creek airport that he voted against.

What I find revolting is that both men swim the sewage of politics and don't retch - they actually seem to feed off the stench.

It's still early enough for other candidates to jump in. Lord knows, we deserve better.

While acknowledging that Schauer would be a better congressman, it's more than obvious that Demas wants a third alternative. Is she talking about Sharon Renier? I can't speak for her, but I'm guessing probably not. Is there another candidate that Demas is hoping will jump into the race?

That question brings me to former Congressman Joe Schwarz. He had a fascinating interview with Jack Lessenberry on WGTE's "Deadline Now" program, and I've wanted to write about that for a while now. I even went so far as to get a copy of the interview from the very friendly folks at WGTE (Toledo, Ohio's public broadcasting station), though the interview is now available online (you've got to scroll down the page a bit to the October 19 broadcast).

The whole thing is worth watching, but I want to look at one exchange in particular. In the interview, Lessenberry asks Schwarz whether he'll run again, and Schwarz says:

I don't know yet, it's one of the things that I've decided not to decide. It is a purposeful choice, not to decide. What candidates do at this stage of the game is go out there and vie for name recognition. I don't perceive myself as having name recognition problems in the 7th Congressional District, first. And secondly, quite frankly, the mechanism by which the Congress operates is seniority and whether you're a junior member of either the majority or the minority in the U.S. Congress, you're not pulling a lot of strength. Decisions are made by committee chairs, ranking members, senior members, so the status of a junior member, especially a junior member of the minority party, whichever party that may be after 2008, isn't going to be much.
Schwarz then continues to talk about the things he would like to still work on in the committees he served on, but says that while it was a privilege to serve in the House, "it's not the be all and end all."

It's always dangerous to read too much into statements like this, because politicians can and do change their minds (as they should). But to me, I'd say that right now, I don't think Schwarz will run. If that's who Susan Demas and others are looking toward as a viable third option, it doesn't look like it'll happen.

It looks like Jack Lessenberry reached about the same conclusion I did. If you watch the end of the program, he offers his own commentary, in which he compares Joe Schwarz to Al Gore. Both, he explains, are politicians who lost close elections and then went on to do a great deal of good work outside of elected office.

As for me, I thought I'd throw in my own thoughts on Joe Schwarz. If Schwarz were to challenge Tim Walberg and win the Republican nomination, I would not vote for him, I would vote for the Democratic nominee. If Schwarz were to run as an independent against Walberg and a Democrat like Mark Schauer, I would not vote for him, I would vote for Schauer. If Schwarz were to run for the Democratic nomination, I probably would not vote for him in the primary.

Why? Because, despite the lies Walberg espoused, Joe Schwarz is a conservative man. He and I disagree on countless issues, and if he ran as a Democrat, he'd certainly not represent the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. But he's a thoughtful, honest conservative, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I have nothing but respect for him, even when we disagree, because hearing him speak, you can tell that he truly believes the things he says, and he's thought them through.

Of course, maybe I'm just easily fooled by politicians that look and sound genuine. After speaking with Mark Schauer, I was left with the impression that he was a genuine, hard-working progressive reformer, but according to Susan Demas, that's not true. Interesting.

And now, the last item is a challenge for all of you loyal Walberg Watch readers. About six months ago, I got a new computer, and discovered Windows Movie Maker was pre-installed on it. Now, it's not much compared to the high-quality video production software available, but to a novice like me, this is new and exciting.

After a while, I started making some videos related to Tim Walberg. Not so much attack ads as informative videos, showcasing some of Walberg's votes and finer moments (like, drilling for oil in the Great Lakes, or "Iraq is as safe as Detroit"). But they're a little dry... Before they can go on YouTube, they need background music!

That's where you come in. I can't just stick in music from my own collection because that runs into copyright violations. I may, in fact, be the only YouTube user that cares about that, but nevertheless, I want to avoid phone calls from lawyers. Does anyone know of a good resource where I can get high-quality, public domain audio recordings? MP3 files would be best.

I hope everyone's holiday season is off to a good start.

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