Saturday, March 31, 2007
Federal Budget - Walberg Votes No
On Thursday, the U.S. House voted on the budget plan for the government of the United States of America for the fiscal year 2008. The $2.9 trillion budget passed, 216-210.
Tim Walberg voted No. The entire Republican caucus voted against the budget (except three not-voting members), as did 12 Democrats. In Michigan, all six Democratic members voted to support the bill.
If you're curious to know how the government plans to spend your money, I'd urge you to read the bill, H. Con. Res. 99 (text also here). I'll warn you, though, a $2.9 trillion bill is lengthy.
Oddly enough, however, we didn't hear complaints from Congressman Walberg about pork spending, or at least, that wasn't what he was upset about. Instead, this is what he had to say:
The budget proposal introduced by my colleagues on the opposite side of the aisle imposes the largest tax increase in American history, nearly $400 billion dollars over the next five years.(Emphasis added.)
Largest tax increase in American history? Wow! Those dastardly Democrats! Robbing the American taxpayer for their wasteful spending on stupid things like the Department of Education!
Well, unfortunately, it ain't that simple.
In fact, Democrats did not raise taxes in this budget. They didn't lower them, either. As far as I can tell (from news reports and my limited knowledge on such issues), tax rates were left untouched.
So how can Walberg and other Republicans make this claim?
See, it's not so much what the Democrats did as much as it's what they didn't do. They chose not to extend the tax cuts President Bush pushed for in his first term, which are set to expire in 2010.
Just think about that for a moment. By Walberg's logic, not extending temporary tax cuts three years before they expire is, in fact, a $400 billion tax increase.
The San Francisco Chronicle brings us a Democratic response to these absurd assertions:
Now, remember, the Democratic majority hasn't actually done anything regarding the tax cuts, extending or repealing. But can you think of any reasons why they might not be eager to make them permanent after 2010?
Tax cuts were much deeper, and affected far more money, for families in the highest income categories. Households in the top 1 percent of earnings, which had an average income of $1.25 million, saw their effective individual tax rates drop to 19.6 percent in 2004 from 24.2 percent in 2000. The rate cut was twice as deep as for middle-income families, and it translated to an average tax cut of almost $58,000.(Emphasis added.)
That sure is sound economic planning. But what happens if the tax cuts aren't extended?
The Democrats, whose budget projections call for a budget surplus of $153 billion by fiscal 2012 after years of enormous deficits they blame on the Bush tax cuts and runaway spending under the Republicans, said they are interested in unspecified middle-class tax relief in the next few years.So, we can either have a sudden, $1 trillion cost for the Treasury, or we can have a $153 billion surplus, reminiscent of Bill Clinton's economic success. That's certainly a tough choice.
By the way, the House Republicans did have their own budget plan:
The Republicans offered an alternative budget plan, which was defeated 268-160, that provided smaller increases in many domestic programs and cut Medicare and Medicaid. It would have extended the Bush tax cuts but assumed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would end by 2009.To me, that sounds sort of like a timetable for withdrawal... you know, the kind Tim Walberg called "benchmarks for failure." But I guess it's all okay, since most of Iraq is as safe as Detroit.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Spring Break - Walberg District Stops
April 2 to April 13 is the U.S. House Spring District Work Period. Ordinarily, this "Spring Break" is a chance for members of Congress to meet with constituents directly and focus all their energy on constituent services, while getting feedback on their activities in Washington.
Congressman Walberg's website has listed only three public events for the coming week, all on April 3rd, and all in either Hillsdale or Lenawee Counties.
(In case you're wondering, it was Hillsdale County gave Walberg his biggest margin of victory, and Lenawee County-- his home county and mine-- gave him his third largest margin... though I'm sure that fact has nothing at all to do with anything. He's only avoiding the population centers of the district.)
If you're interested, here are the events:
Tuesday, April 3Got any questions you'd like to ask Congressman Walberg? Curious to hear what American city is most similar to, say, Afghanistan? How about Kosovo? Well, here's your chance.
Colbert on Walberg, Iraq
You know it's a big story when Stephen Colbert mocks you on Comedy Central's Colbert Report...
Seriously, though, I really am getting tired of writing about Congressman Walberg's stupid comments on Iraq. It's embarassing enough to think that our elected representative would say something like that, and that this is how the rest of the country gets introduced to south-central Michigan.
But this one incident is sadly representative of the kind of politician Tim Walberg is. He's not interested in what's best for his constituents, or what they want, he's interested in spreading the failed policies of the White House, the Club for Growth, and the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party. He's not interested in the facts about Iraq; instead, he's committed to following the failed policies of a failing leader.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Walberg's Prayer Caucus?
This is my last post for the day... It's been a long couple of weeks, and today, I'm about Walberg-ed out. There's other interesting stuff out there, but this is definitely the one worth writing about.
The Battle Creek Enquirer has an... interesting... article about Congressman Walberg's latest venture in Washington.
The article says "former non-denominational minister," but to me, it sounds like "former" is definitely the wrong word. This is, after all, the same guy who said that "Politics is just another format that can be used as a place of intentional ministry".
The "Prayer Caucus" has a website here, for those interested.
You know, it may very well be that prayer is a good thing. That's fine. But for members of the United States House of Representatives to launch a group intended to encourage that? I don't know, I just feel like maybe there are more tangible things they could be doing. Chances are, there are plenty of Republicans and Democrats praying for their country already (and possibly for different reasons). They're not going to change that.
This group probably won't do anything to increase the number of people praying, and even if it does, is that really the role of our political leaders? I liked this quote from the Enquirer article:
Americans United for Separation of Church and State responded that the lawmakers should "stop meddling in religion and get back to work."Really, if I've got a theological question, I'm more likely to visit my local priest than call up my representative in Washington, and that's how it should be. Religion has its place, and that's in the privacy of one's own home and community, not in the media spotlight. Walberg should be focused on serving his constituents interests, not reminding us every couple of weeks how religious he is.
All they're doing is getting noticed for being "people of faith," which plays well politically with the conservative base. They're using their faith for political purposes. I find that disgusting.
UPDATE: Some people might not read through to the comments on these posts, which is too bad, considering some of the intelligent, insightful things people say.
This comment, though, absolutely deserved to be promoted to the top:
Karl Rove, White House Worried About 7th District
(Thanks to lpackard for bringing this to my attention... You're a very valuable resource for progressives in Michigan!)
One of the times Tim Walberg defended his comments comparing Iraq and Detroit, he did so while introducing a guest speaker at the Jackson County Republicans' Lincoln Day dinner. That guest was Karl Rove, the infamous political advisor of President George W. Bush. Now, Jackson may be the birthplace of the Republican Party, but could there have been a bigger reason for Rove's visit? Could it be that Bush's top advisor might be worried about holding the 7th District in 2008?
That's all pure speculation on my part. But now there's a little more evidence that perhaps the national GOP-- or, at least, the White House Office of Political Affairs-- is worried about Congressman Tim Walberg's ability to hold the seat for the Republicans.
But first, the back story. Thanks in advance to DownWithTyranny for some good blogging.
Wikipedia describes the General Services Administration (GSA) with this:
The General Services Administration (GSA) is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1949 to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies. The GSA supplies products and communications for U.S. government offices, provides transportation and office space to federal employees, and develops governmentwide cost-minimizing policies, among other management tasks. Its stated mission is to "help federal agencies better serve the public by offering, at best value, superior workplaces, expert solutions, acquisition services and management policies."Basically, they help make our federal government operate more efficiently and smoothly by organizing resources. It sounds like a great idea. And it's supposed to be nonpartisan, too, based on the 1939 Hatch Act, which sets limitations on what political roles federal employees and agencies may play.
So, suppose there's an event held for the GSA described as a "teambuilding" event, and a slideshow produced by the White House Office of Political Affairs is presented. It seems a little suspicious, but it isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Now, suppose that slide show reviews the data from the 2006 elections, with historical comparisons. Kind of an odd thing for "teambuilding," I guess...
Then, suppose the slide show proceeded to include slides titled things like "2008 House Targets: Top 20" (oddly enough, featuring only Democrats) and "2008 House GOP Defense". Are you starting to get suspicious?
Are you even more suspicious if the head of the GSA, Lurita Doan, is quoted as saying, "How can we use different GSA projects, building opening and the like, to further aid other Republicans?" or "How can we use GSA to help our candidates in the next election?"
Nah, there's nothing about that at all which could be seen as improper or unethical.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been looking at that, and there's an excellent 10-minute video from it here. It's a little scandal that might not get noticed with everything else going on, but you should know about it. You can see the slide show for yourself here (.pdf).
But we're straying from the focus of this blog, and I apologize for that. Where does Congressman Walberg come in to this?
Walberg's name is on the slide titled "2008 House GOP Defense" (page 10 of the slide show pdf), under the column "Secondary Defense".
Let's see if we can make them bump him up to "Priority Defense" by the time November 2008 comes around.
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(For those curious, two more Michigan Republicans-- Vern Ehlers, MI-03, and Joe Knollenberg, MI-09, are also listed, with asteriks suggesting they might retire.)
2008: Jim Berryman Considers Run
The Jackson Citizen Patriot reports today that former Adrian mayor and state senator Jim Berryman is considering challenging Congressman Tim Walberg.
Berryman has been privately communicating with people across the district about a possible run for a little while now. He would be an impressive candidate, and it'll be interesting to see what his final decision will be.
For those that don't remember the 1998 election:
Remember, the district boundaries changed following the 2000 census (current district map). More of Washtenaw County is now included, and Barry County is no longer in the district. Most significant, I think, is Berryman's strong performance in Lenawee County against the incumbent Nick Smith. A race in 2008 where Lenawee County isn't solidly for Walberg would be interesting.7th District Representative in Congress 2 Year Term (1) Position
UPDATE: I was in a hurry earlier when I posted this, so I'll expand on my post a little.
Jim Berryman served as mayor of Adrian, Michigan from 1985 to 1990, and then served in the Michigan Senate from 1991 to 1998. He currently serves as the Michigan Education Association Uniserv Director in Lenawee County, representing teachers from about half of Lenawee County's school districts.
As an anonymous poster in the comments pointed out, his vote totals in 1998 wasn't the only item of significance:
What stands out about his run in 1998 is the amount of money he raised. If you go to http://www.politicalmoneylineNow, obviously 1998 is different than 2008, but this is impressive. It's also nice to know that, unlike Tim Walberg, the vast majority of individual itemized contributions to Berryman in 1998 came from in the state of Michigan (91% in-state for Berryman, 27% in-state for Walberg).
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Rail and Public Transportation Security Act - Walberg Votes No
Today, the United States House of Representatives voted on HR 1401, the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act. It describes itself as a bill "to improve the security of railroads, public transportation, and over-the-road buses in the United States, and for other purposes." It's a pretty large bill, so if you'd like more information, read the text of the bill (here or here).
It passed, 299-124.
Tim Walberg voted No. Although 124 Republicans voted against it, 74 joined the Democratic majority to support the bill's passage. Among those 74 were Michigan Republicans Vern Ehlers (MI-03), Peter Hoekstra (MI-02), Joe Knollenberg (MI-09), Thad McCotter (MI-11), Candice Miller (MI-10), and Fred Upton (MI-06). Joining Walberg in opposition to the measure were Dave Camp (MI-04) and Mike Rogers (MI-08). All six Michigan Democrats voted to support the bill.
Former Congressman Joe Schwarz was reported to be a big fan of railways and trains, and was seen as a friend of Amtrak during his term (and Amtrak, for those unaware, has a line that runs straight through the 7th District). How do you think he might have voted on a bill to improve transportation security? And how do you think a Democrat-- any Democrat-- would have voted?
Walberg Watch Gets Media Attention
Jackson-area residents may want to take a quick look at today's issue (March 27, 2007) of the Jackson Citizen Patriot, on the front page, in the bottom-right corner. If you do, you might see something like this, which I photocopied from my local library's paper:
Chad Livengood at the newspaper apparently felt that, given Congressman Walberg's recent comments and the subsequent media attention, the folks that have been watching him throughout his term in office deserved a little notice too.
Needless to say, I appreciate the positive attention, and hope that the article brings a few more people to the blog. Thank you, Citizen Patriot!
Consider this an open thread. Feel free to share any of your Walberg-related anecdotes and complaints.
Labels: Open Thread
Monday, March 26, 2007
Port Huron Times Herald: "Walberg is wrong. Flat wrong."
Port Huron may not be in the 7th District, but the Port Huron Times Herald got it absolutely right today in this editorial. It's refreshing to know that other people recognize how wrong Congressman Walberg was... I was starting to wonder after an editorial and letters to the editor in support of his comments appeared in Adrian's Daily Telegram (Tim Walberg's hometown paper, and mine as well).
Here are a couple excellent excerpts from the Times Herald editorial:
Congressman wrong on war and on Detroitand
That's the key question.
Do you really want Walberg representing you in Washington in two years?
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Saturday, March 24, 2007
Walberg: I'm not racist, honest!
Ah, more on Congressman Walberg's poorly-chosen words regarding Iraq and Detroit. Remember, folks, this is the story that defines the rest of the country's perception of our district.
Just to recap, this is what he said:
Walberg: "In talking with people who have been on the ground overOn the one hand, this is just a sign of how incredibly out-of-touch Walberg is with the actual state of affairs in Iraq and with the wishes of the American people. That in and of itself is worth discussing.
But then there's this whole other dimension to it. Why did he pick Detroit, Chicago, and then Harvey, Illinois? Here's what the mayor of Harvey, Illinois had to say:
So was it a hint of racial bias shining through? Mayor Kellogg isn't the only one to have that thought. A couple people sent me links to this:
Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI), perhaps the whitest person I've ever seen, is taking heat for comparing Iraq and Detroit on a Michigan radio station. The Republican congressman representing rural southern Michigan said that most of Iraq "is reasonably under control, at least as well as Detroit."... And it continues from there.
At the Lincoln Day dinner for the Jackson County Republicans (where, incidentally, Walberg was introducing none other than Karl Rove, President Bush's top political strategist), Walberg took a moment to defend himself. Reporter Susan Demas (apparently at the Battle Creek Enquirer now, after working with the Jackson Citizen Patriot previously) brings us this:
JACKSON — After winning kudos from Rush Limbaugh and appearing on Fox News Channel this week, U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg said Saturday the firestorm over his comments comparing Iraq to Detroit is “overblown.”I'm just going to interject that, if I were a politician that in any way hoped to appeal to moderate voters, I wouldn't want Rush Limbaugh to praise me for anything. Really.
“No apology is necessary,” Walberg said at the Jackson County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner. “I have no reason to.”[...]
“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?”And that's his defense. There are white people there, too, and he's gonna raise a lot of money.
I'm not going to try to speculate on the racial side of this. I will, however, say that it's really terrible timing on his part to say all this the same week that he voted against a bill to help low-income (and often African American) victims of Hurricane Katrina. It just sort of sends the wrong message.
This is also the wrong thing to say:
“No apology is necessary,” Walberg said at the Jackson County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner. “I have no reason to.”So I pose a few questions to you, the residents of the 7th District and readers of the blog:
UPDATE: I forgot to mention this comment from the Enquirer story, by a user named bccurmudgeon:
I honestly can't remember a time before when I was in agreement with Carolyn Kilpatrick, but this is it.
Friday, March 23, 2007
On Walberg, Iraq, and "Under Control"
I've refrained from commenting on my own thoughts on Congressman Walberg's latest media gaffe. It's gotten him national attention, which is what every politician is constantly looking for, but somehow, I don't think even the whole-hearted support of Rush Limbaugh will help him turn this into a positive. Honestly, for a politician as experienced as Tim Walberg, it seemed politically tone-deaf.
Surely he knew, as soon as the radio host said, "I've never heard Iraq compared to Detroit before," that he would get some negative attention from this. He must have known that comparing the largest city in Michigan to a warzone-- regardless of his intent-- would send the wrong message.
But afterwards, he didn't say, "Yeah, it was a dumb comparison, an entire Middle Eastern nation experiencing significant violence can never be compared to Detroit or any other single city. It's a complex situation, and there are a lot of factors at play, we're watching something totally new and unpredictable unfold and, while I'm optimistic about the future, I recognize that there are serious issues. Similarly, I recognize the hard work of people in Detroit and elsewhere in confronting their problems with crime, and applaud their efforts to change the perception that the city is a blemish on our state. Above all, I'm sorry for having said something dumb."
That's what he should have said. But he didn't.
Instead, he has defended his comments, reasserting that 80 to 85 percent of Iraq is comparable to life in Detroit. (For those interested, listen to his interview with WJR, where he made many of the same points.) If anything, this shows a disgusting lack of respect for the opinions of others.
All right, Congressman Walberg. If you're going to stand by your words, so be it. Let's talk about this.
Just for a reminder, here's what he said:
Walberg: "In talking with people who have been on the ground over"Reasonably under control" is what he says. What is "reasonably under control"?
Is somewhere between 59,408 and 65,246 civilian deaths as a result of military action "under control"? Is 654,965 Iraqi deaths (according to the Lancet survey) "under control"?
Is 3,234 American servicemembers killed "under control"?
Is a place that requires 180,000 US troops really "under control"?
When the capital and largest city of a country (though, perhaps not part of Walberg's 85 percent) had an average of only 2.4 hours of electricity each day in October 2006, is it really "under control"?
When the Secretary-General of the United Nations is interrupted by a rocket attack during a press conference, is that "under control"? And how often does that happen in Detroit?
When thousands of Iraqis who helped the United States early in the war are begging for a chance to come to America, because they're afraid they'll be killed if they stay in Iraq, is it really "under control"?
When two million Iraqis have already fled their country to neighboring countries, and another 1.8 million have left their homes and sought safer places in Iraq, is it "under control"?
And what is this 80 to 85 percent Walberg speaks of? From listening to him, one might think that the violence is entirely concentrated in Baghdad and a few other trouble spots. But, while Baghdad sees considerable violence, bombings and attacks are present throughout the country. Is that "under control"?
And what if it all were limited to, say, Baghdad, the destination of troops in President Bush's escalation. Is it okay to exclude Baghdad as part of that 15 percent that isn't as safe as Detroit? The Baghdad metropolitan area has 8 million residents, which is roughly 30 percent of the country's 26.7 million population. A city of that relative size in the United States would have a metro area with 90 million people (based on a rough estimate of 300 million total). In case you're curious, 2005 estimates of the populations of the top ten metropolitan areas in the United States (including Detroit-Warren-Flint at #9) added together totals only a bit more than 87 million.
So is it okay to exclude hot-spots like Baghdad, and say everywhere else is "under control"?
Look, Congressman Walberg, we get it. You support the war, you support President Bush, and you think that people like me are hoping for defeat because we hate freedom and love the terrorists or whatever. That's fine, you're entitled to your opinion.
And if you want to compare the conditions in a complicated country to a couple of American cities, go right ahead, and look foolish. (Though, I've got to say, picking cities with high African American populations and suggesting that their crime rate is comparable to Iraq isn't the way to reach out to African American voters.)
But calling Iraq-- any part of it-- "under control" on a level comparable to any city in America is a sign of how out-of-touch you really are.
Oh, and on another note, he says repeatedly that he's simply relaying a message from the troops he has spoken with. For all I know, that may be true. But don't think that all Iraq veterans are supportive of Walberg's position regarding Iraq (here, for instance, or here).
(By the way, Tim Walberg's hometown paper-- and mine-- the Adrian Daily Telegram got it wrong in today's editorial when they defended Walberg. Sad.)
That's my rant for today. Now that you've gotten through it, would you consider contributing to ActBlue's MI-07 General Election Fund? All money donated goes toward the eventual Democratic nominee.
Iraq Spending Bill - Walberg Votes No
Today, the US House of Representatives voted on passage of HR 1591, titled the "U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007". Kind of lengthy, eh? It describes itself simply as a bill "Making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, and for other purposes."
However, most media outlets will describe it like this:
The House of Representatives on Friday voted 218-212 to approve an emergency $124 billion supplemental war spending bill that includes a firm deadline -- August 31, 2008 -- for combat troops to leave Iraq.That's the key bit right there. There's been plenty of discussion of whether the bill is tough enough, or whether it's too tough, or any number of other viewpoints, but the significance is this: HR 1591 is the first spending bill for the war in Iraq that calls for an exit strategy and sets a target date.
The bill passed, 218-212. Only two Republicans voted with the Democratic majority, while 14 Democrats chose to oppose the bill.
Now, although Congressman Walberg claims most of Iraq is as safe as America's major cities, he doesn't seem to think it's safe enough to bring the troops home in a year and a half. He voted No, as did the rest of Michigan's Republican representatives.
Gulf Coast Recovery - Walberg Votes No
As Congressman Walberg makes a fool of himself in front of the national media this week, there have been a few significant votes this week. The first, on Wednesday, was on HR 1227, the Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act of 2007.
Describing itself as a bill "To assist in the provision of affordable housing to low-income families affected by Hurricane Katrina," HR 1227 authorizes the Department of Housing and Urban Development to allocate greater funds toward housing in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. GovTrack.us gives an estimated cost as less than $2.00 per American in 2007.
It passed, 302-125, with 72 Republicans joining the Democratic majority.
Tim Walberg voted No. Michigan Republicans Vern Ehlers, Joe Knollenberg, Mike Rogers, and Fred Upton chose to support the bill, while Walberg was joined by Republicans Dave Camp, Peter Hoekstra, Thaddeus McCotter, and Candice Miller.
Look, Congressman Walberg, I realize you're all about small government and whatnot. But two dollars? Is that too much to ask?
Walberg makes national news
Just a little update on the Walberg V. Detroit comment, Walberg's thoughtless comment made it to national news yesterday on the The Situation Room's Cafferty File. After Cafferty made his report Wolfe said something to the affect that 'I don't know of any IED's going off in major American cities.' (Sorry that is a paraphrase I'm not sure of his exact wording) Below are some of the comments people emailed in to the show. None of the Comments posted to the Cafferty File site were from Michigan or Illinois.
Fox “news” has also chimed in on this mess. Brit Hume started out his Political Grapevine Segment by stating:
There are some things you just can't say in America these days. Michigan Republican Congressman Tim Walberg said in a radio interview that American soldiers returning from Iraq have told him that most of the country is calm.Sigh. Oh, and the title of this Grapevine; Feelings Get Hurt Over Political Correctness
Here are the links to both the Cafferty File and Brit Hume coverage
Way to make a name for yourself Mr. Walberg.
Walberg, Iraq, and Detroit
Thanks Tim for bringing attention to the 7th District. It is nice to see that you do not run from your comments. This from the Battle Creek Enquirer today,
Walberg has not apologized, and has, in fact, expanded on his statement Thursday.Look at all the sites that have picked up on this story. Democrats understand what Walberg is all about and it goes to show how far Republicans will go. I am amazed how many defend Tim.
Michigan Democratic Party
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Walberg: Iraq is as safe as Detroit (Updated with Audio)
Just in case you were wondering how the war in Iraq was going, Tim Walberg informs us that the country is, basically, the same as Detroit.
I got this in an e-mail today from an attentive listener:
Yesterday, Tim Walberg on WILS radio said the following:Honestly, I don't know what to say to that.
UPDATE - 21 March, 5:28 PM: The Michigan Democratic Party has the audio here. The comments got some coverage in the Battle Creek Enquirer as well, with part of MDP Chairman Mark Brewer's statement:
State Party Chair Mark Brewer today demanded Walberg apologize for saying most of Iraq is as safe as Detroit. Walberg made the comments on a Lansing radio show Monday, Brewer said in a press release.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Walberg on Agriculture
When Nikita Khrushchev came to America in the 1959, President Eisenhower wanted to greet him with a spirit of openness and friendship, with the hope of perhaps ending the young Cold War. He offered to show Krushchev all the things Ike was proud of-- mainly, military bases and factories. But Khrushchev didn't want to see those, he wanted to see the two things that America had and the Soviet Union did not have.
One of them was an American family farm. It was (and still is) incredible that a tiny fraction of our population can both feed the entire country and export its surplus around the world.
The other, of course, was Disneyland.
I've always thought that was a fun story, and it's a great way to introduce any agricultural subjects. Michigan's 7th District is a rural district, and to say that agriculture is important to the district and to the country would be an incredible understatement. And while only 1.5 percent of the 7th District workforce is employed in agriculture (compared to 24.6 percent in manufacturing, according to 2000 census data), it serves a vital role in the district.
For years, former Congressman Nick Smith was a reliable voice for the 7th District's agricultural interests, despite his conservative politics. A former Department of Agriculture bureaucrat prior to holding elective office, Smith served on the House Committee on Agriculture during his terms in office.
When Smith left office, former Congressman Joe Schwarz also served on the Agriculture Committee, and, upon taking office, Congressman Tim Walberg was given a seat on the same committee.
What are Tim Walberg's thoughts on agriculture? Well, this is all he writes on the Agriculture page of his House web site:
Agriculture... And that's it. He looks forward to meeting farmers. Hm.
If there are any farmers out there, what has Tim Walberg done for you so far? And what do you expect him to do?
Friday, March 16, 2007
I know that a lot of people have conflicting opinions on Wikipedia. It's a phenomenal resource on a wide range of subjects and is easily accessible and regularly updated. That said, it's also vulnerable to abuse. Heated political campaigns, especially, tend to reveal that issue.
Tim Walberg's Wikipedia entry, it seems, has had its own small-scale problem, and today has been a busy day for editing the page. For instance, a user named Kurlansky briefly changed the link to Walberg's campaign site to that of the Club for Growth-- a change which was reverted fairly quickly. But the most significant changes came from an interesting source.
At 14:39 and 14:41 GMT, a user made changes that can be seen here. (The previous version of the article appears on the left, this user's changes are on the right.) What were the changes?
The following passages were removed from the article:
Walberg is known as both a social and economic conservative and was a congressional candidate in [[Michigan's 7th congressional district]] in 2004 in which he placed third. http://www.cqpolitics.com/2006/03/mi_7_schwarz_pressured_from_th.htmland
In October 2006, the Walberg campaign faced scandal when one of the campaign's employees pleaded guilty to child abuse charges. The allegations first appeared in the ''Jackson Citizen Patriot''. http://www.mlive.com/news/jacitpat/index.ssf?/base/news-19/1161878713322500.xml&coll=3 The allegations included severe injuries to a young childs face and body. The staffer was sentenced to probation. Walberg later said he would not discuss hiring decisions with the media.In other words, the user wanted to remove the mention of Walberg's third-place finish in 2004 and of a major scandal that changed the nature of the 2006 race.
The user that made these changes signed them as "Rickibaxter." For those that have forgotten, Rick Baxter is Tim Walberg's district director and is a former member of the Michigan House of Representatives.
Now, I'm not going to jump to any conclusions, because I know it's easy to fake things on the internet and on Wikipedia. But it's a little suspicious, isn't it?
Anyway, that's what caught my eye tonight.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Accountability in Contracting Act - Walberg Votes No
Today, the House of Representatives voted on HR 1362, the Accountability in Contracting Act. The bill would reform the way in which the federal government deals with outside contractors, in order to promote transparency and prevent corruption (text here or here). It passed, 347-73.
Tim Walberg voted No.
Of Walberg's fellow Republicans, 119 voted with 228 Democrats to support the bill (with four Democrats not voting). Walberg was one of only 73 Republicans to oppose the measure. Michigan Republicans Dave Camp, Vern Ehlers, Joe Knollenberg, Thaddeus McCotter, Candice Miller, Mike Rogers, and Fred Upton joined the entire Michigan Democratic delegation, while only Congressman Peter Hoekstra joined Walberg in opposing the bill.
Apparently the "fiscally conservative" Walberg doesn't mind corruption.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act - Walberg Votes No
Not a lot of time tonight, but I thought I should mention this.
Today, the House passed HR 985, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007 by a vote of 331-94.
Tim Walberg voted No. Of Walberg's fellow Republicans, 102 of them voted to support the bill, a majority of his party, 229 Democrats voted for it, with 3 not voting.
GovTrack describes the bill as:
Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007 - Includes as a protected disclosure by a federal employee any lawful disclosure an employee or applicant reasonably believes is credible evidence of waste, abuse, gross mismanagement, or substantial and specific danger to public health or safety without restriction as to time, place, form, motive, context, or prior disclosure.More details on the specifics of the bill are here, and the bill text is here.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Money, Money, Money
In today's Ann Arbor News, Democratic candidate David Nacht is profiled under the headline "Race shaping up in 7th District". I wouldn't say it's a fluff piece, but it doesn't have much substance not already covered on this blog. If anything, it's a good way for Nacht to introduce himself to the voters of western Washtenaw County.
What caught my eye, though, was this paragraph at the end:
Unseating Walberg won't be easy, though. The anti-tax conservative raised and spent more than $1.2 million in the last cycle, and dedicated his first few months on Capitol Hill to constituent outreach and legislation on tax reform, worker's [sic] rights and Great Lakes preservation.For starters, I wouldn't characterize his term thus far quite like that. He apparently dedicated himself to workers' rights by voting against pro-labor legislation, and Great Lakes preservation has only been a leading issue for the last two weeks or so, at most. (Even if Walberg has always been an advocate for the Great Lakes, most of January and February were spent on other issues.)
I attribute this to the slightly conservative bias of the Ann Arbor News-- after all, they endorsed George W. Bush in a county that voted 63-35 for John Kerry. Either way, it's a minor quibble. Far more important was this:
The anti-tax conservative raised and spent more than $1.2 million in the last cycleI know we all remember the money spent by Walberg, versus the money not spent by Sharon Renier, and Renier's stellar performance as the underfunded underdog. But this is something that's worth talking about constantly.
According to the FEC, Tim Walberg spent $1,225,137 on the 2006 campaign, and has another $38,000 or so left over-- plus independent expenditures by folks like the Club for Growth, Right to Life, and the Minuteman PAC. Sharon Renier spent $55,794 but still managed to make the race the closest in the state of Michigan, out-performing every Democrat in the district since 1992. (By the way, it's also worth remembering that most of Walberg's money came from outside the state of Michigan.)
But be careful, because you might draw the wrong conclusion. Renier proved that it's possible to run a competitive campaign on less than $60,000, but that doesn't mean anyone should. Imagine if Renier had spent, say, $500,000-- still less than half of what Walberg spent. I can't know this for sure, but I've got to think that money like that could easily have closed the gap and defeated Walberg by an impressive margin.
Next time around, Walberg's going to have the full support of the Club for Growth and co., plus all the advantages of incumbency (which inevitably leads to money connections, it seems). And if Joe Schwarz or some other credible Republican doesn't challenge him in the primary, he'll be able to focus all his attention on the Democratic candidates and eventual nominee. I think it's certainly possible that we could see him spending $2 million or more. That's what we're up against.
But, the DCCC is interested, right? So they'll help out! Well, maybe. Like anyone else, they don't like being associated with losing candidates, and they won't want to spend everything they have on increasing the majority by just one seat. If Walberg raises a lot of money and the best the Democratic candidates can do is 2006-level fundraising (or worse, 2004-level), then they might choose to pass on the race yet again. In other words, the DCCC won't make a candidate viable, it'll only help those that are already viable-- and viability often means money.
I wish I could offer some sort of three-step strategy to raising large amounts of cash, but I can't, and I'm just a lowly blogger. The candidates will have to figure that out. Instead, I'm just reminding the candidates that they'll need the money if they want this to become a first-tier race. Don't take any candidate seriously if they aren't already implementing a fundraising strategy by the filing deadline, May 19th, 2008.
And if you're not a candidate, you aren't ready to commit to anyone, and you have the money available, consider donating to ActBlue's fund for MI-07's Democratic Nominee.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Open Thread and WVR - March 9th
I'm going to try something new this week, after a comment on a previous post. This is a small blog, and it hardly seems worthy of the "open threads" that Daily Kos and Eschaton have, but I'm curious to see what kind of comments I get. Below, all non-procedural votes from this week. Feel free to comment on them, Walberg, or anything else.
Here are the recorded votes cast by Congressman Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), March 5th through 9th. Certain procedural votes have been omitted. No votes listed below were considered significant by the Washington Post Votes Database.
- HR 995: Walberg voted Yes. Description: "To amend Public Law 106-348 to extend the authorization for establishing a memorial in the District of Columbia or its environs to honor veterans who became disabled while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States." Passed, 390-0.
- HR 497: Walberg voted Yes. Description: "To authorize the Marion Park Project, a committee of the Palmetto Conservation Foundation, to establish a commemorative work on Federal land in the District of Columbia, and its environs to honor Brigadier General Francis Marion." (Note: Does not allocate federal funds.) Passed, 390-0.
- H. Res. 98: Walberg voted Yes. Description: "Honoring the Life and Achievements of the Late Dr. John Garang De Mabior." Passed, 410-1.
- H. Res. 149: Walberg voted Yes. Description: "Supporting the Goals of International Women’S Day." Passed, 403-0.
- H. Amdt. 25 to HR 569: Walberg voted Yes. Description: "An amendment... to add a new section to the bill requiring offsets." Failed, 166-260.
- HR 569: Walberg voted Yes. Description: "To amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to authorize appropriations for sewer overflow control grants." Passed, 367-58.
- HR 710: Walberg voted Yes. Description: The Charlie W. Norwood Living Organ Donation Act; "To amend the National Organ Transplant Act to provide that criminal penalties do not apply to paired donations of human kidneys, and for other purposes." Passed, 422-0.
- H. Amdt. 30 to HR 700: Walberg voted Yes. Description: "An amendment... to add a new section at the end of the bill to require offsets." Failed, 176-256.
- HR 700: Walberg voted Yes. Description: "To Amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to Extend the Pilot Program for Alternative Water Source Projects." Passed, 368-59.
- H. Res. 202: Walberg voted No. Description: "Providing for the expenses of certain committees of the House of Representatives in the One Hundred Tenth Congress." Passed, 269-150.
- Baker Amendment to HR 720: Walberg voted Yes. Description: Unavailable. Thomas doesn't list amendments for HR 720. Vote was today, March 9th, so it may appear this weekend as they update their database. Failed, 140-280.
- HR 720: Walberg voted No. Description: Water Quality Financing Act of 2007; "To amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to authorize appropriations for State water pollution control revolving funds, and for other purposes." Passed, 303-108.
Does this prove everything you've thought and said about Walberg? Or does it change your perception of the congressman? Or, does it merely change your perception of what Congress does with its time?
I might share my own thoughts later, but right now, all I can think is: that was an awful lot to type in.
Consider this an open thread.
More from Walberg
Congressman Walberg's web site is lots of fun. Again, I went to his issues page. Health care is a concern to most working families. How many in Michigan and across the nation do not have medical insurance. Tim Walberg sits on the Education and Labor Committee. This should be one of his major concerns. It is not. When I went to his Health Care page this is all I found.
Washington, Jan 30 - U.S. Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI) this morning entered the following remarks in the U.S. House of Representatives Congressional record.So, just go give blood and everything will be all right.
Labels: Health Care
Walberg on Iraq, I mean War on Terror
I went to Tim Walberg's official web site to see what was on his mind. I was wondering what he had to say about Iraq. So, I went to his issues page. I was surprised that Iraq was not listed. Then I saw the last link, WAR ON TERROR. Sure enough that is where he talks about Iraq, well kind of.
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.Congressman Walberg must be praying to the Republican spin doctors. This is now my number 1 reason Walberg must not be reelected in 2008. Anyone who still attempts to tell us that Iraq = War on Terror must think we are all stupid.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Walberg the Environmentalist?
We all know about the Club for Growth's support of Tim Walberg, presumably for his "business-friendly" positions. Ordinarily, that kind of friendliness isn't associated with environmentalism. We always hear stories of the little guy standing up to the chemical company, or the oil company, or the lumber company, in defense of natural beauty.
Could it be that the "pro-growth" Walberg is actually an environmentalist? That's what his Weekly Wrap-Up seems to imply:
Washington, Mar 2 - Many of the fondest memories my wife Sue and I have of the childhood days of our three now-adult children involve our family spending time together in the Michigan great outdoors.Walberg continues:
Sadly, our lakes suffer damage every day through untreated sewage, toxic pollutants and aquatic invasive species. The ecosystem surrounding the lakes is breaking down.Yes! Manageable solutions do exist for environmental problems, even those on a global scale. He proceeds to describe his support for the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, which will hopefully solve some of the problems. I admit, I'm not as knowledgeable on environmental issues as I should be, but I applaud Congressman Walberg for trying to do something.
Now that he's joined the environmentalists, would he consider working on behalf of a few new causes?
Like, suppose oil companies wanted to drill in an area of wilderness unlike any other, far away in the Arctic, and currently protected by the government. It may be far away, unlike the Great Lakes, but surely Tim Walberg will fight to protect it, right? Or not.
Environmental and energy policy: Candidates were asked whether they support tax breaks and incentives for alternative fuels like ethanol, and whether they support drilling for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.Hmm... Well, maybe he'll change his mind. And I'm sure he recognizes that the oil companies have a long record of polluting the environment, and that it's ridiculous that they have record profits and charge high prices while doing so. He'd certainly stand up to the oil companies on this one, right?
...Well. Maybe not. But what about global warming? It may be the defining environmental issue of our time, and what we do today will have an enormous impact on the future of our planet. Now, he's just a freshman in the House, I don't expect him to have a solution in place. But as a reliable Republican member, surely his party would try to help fight the man-made causes of global warming. We've known that it would be a problem for decades, and Republicans have controlled Congress since 1994. Surely, by now, they've recognized the need for action.
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?I see. You know, I'm getting the feeling that they might not be as firmly committed to environmental causes as I thought...
If Walberg's work benefits the Great Lakes, I'll almost, for a moment, be proud to have him as my representative. Almost. But there's so much more that can and needs to be done to protect our environment, and I hope he'll consider doing more. There are plenty of issues he could get involved with.
Contact Congressman Walberg, and urge him to become an environmental leader in the House, and to start with global warming. His contact page is here, and you can submit messages electronically here
Some useful links:
ClimateCrisis.org - Web site of Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
The League of Conservation Voters
Black Bear Speaks blog
Among the Trees blog
Site Note: "Key Votes"
Regular visitors to this blog will note the vote count in the upper right-hand corner. It's tough to decide what votes that Congressman Walberg casts are worthy of mentioning-- after all, no one really expected him or anyone else to vote against "observing American Heart Month," and many of the procedural votes in Congress aren't significant outside the House chamber.
Initially, I had planned to include all legislation passed, but even that proved troublesome. Do I include the Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2007, which passed with limited opposition? It would seem wrong to put that on the same level as enacting the reforms suggested by the 9/11 Commission, for example, or raising the minimum wage, where there was significant debate. And only including legislation misses out on things like Walberg's vote in support of the escalation of the war in Iraq; it was a non-binding, symbolic resolution, but certainly significant!
What's important enough to be counted?
I've decided to let the Washington Post make that decision for me. One of the finest newspapers in the country, the Post has teams of people contemplating such things, and I think I'll trust their judgement and their "Key Votes" page of their Votes Database. It's not perfect, and doesn't include some votes that I would personally consider important. But this way, I don't have to make that decision, and no one will think I'm inflating the number of "No" votes to make Congressman Walberg look bad.
And some of you are probably thinking this isn't important, but I really do think it is. This is certainly a partisan, biased website, but I hope to maintain a certain level of honesty and openness too. After all, that's what we ask of Congressman Walberg and all our political leaders.
Walberg's Key Votes
Labels: Walberg Voting Record
Schauer on YouTube, Thanks Bloggers
So maybe State Senator Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek) isn't planning on running against Tim Walberg. But he's still in the 7th Congressional District, and he still makes some people's lists of potential candidates.
Regardless of what his future plans are-- Congress in 2008, or Governor in 2010, or Emperor of the Universe-- this is the sort of thing that helps to win support of the Michigan netroots (thanks to Flatwheel at Michigan Liberal).
It's not just that he thanks bloggers (though that's nice, too). It's that he's willing to reach out, taking advantage of technology to speak directly with us. Other candidates, keep this in mind as you begin your campaigns.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Why Must Walberg Go?
Time for audience participation.
What are the top five reasons you think Tim Walberg needs to be a one term congressman?
Walberg votes against Labor
We knew he would do it, so yesterday he made it official. Congressman Tim Walberg voted against The Employee Free Choice Act.
While this important piece of legislation was being considered our Congressman was more concerned about Canadian trash. Nice controversial issue to take a stand on Tim.
"One of my first acts after taking office was to join a broad, bipartisan coalition"Why didn't Walberg write (right) a letter to the editor explaining why he does not support Michigan workers?
If we elect a Democrat we will get a member of congress who is concerned about Canadian trash and protecting the rights of workers.
Update in bold: Thanks to an comment I have corrected my mistake. I kept the original in ( ) so the comments will make sence.
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