Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Things Walberg Chooses To Care About

Everyone has little things that bug them. They're not really all that important, and you know it, but it just drives you crazy. It's been bothering you deep inside, but you feel silly complaining about it, because you know it's not a big deal.

Me? I hate it when people don't use their turn signals. I also can't stand it whenever a store reorganizes itself, and you're wandering around lost and confused. It bugs me a lot.

But you know what? It's not a big deal, and I get over it. And in the occasional interview I've had with the press (not that it happens that often), I've never felt the urge to complain about any of those things.

Apparently, that's the difference between me and Congressman Tim Walberg. He was in Iraq recently (more on that later), and when he returned, what did he discover? They made changes at the congressional cafeteria! Obviously, he needed to tell WJR's Frank Beckmann all about it.
Beckmann: Well, welcome back home, and now you can look forward to getting back to the House cafeteria and that new menu they have there

Walberg: It is terrible, Frank, and in fact this morning I was grousing about the taste of my double espresso. Normally, in the Longworth building, there's a Starbucks there and I get my double espresso and it tasted absolutely chemical this morning. Well, I got to our conference, and they were talking about some people who have had bad reactions, actual physical reactions to the new paper cups. Well I had the paper cup in my hand and I said well I wonder if that’s it. Then I get back to my office, I find out it is now no longer Starbucks coffee, it is some organically-grown coffee that’s supposed to be green. Well, maybe that’s the problem. So, so far I'm not happy. They put scrambled eggs on cardboard now, uhhh, and you can imagine what a scrambled egg tastes like at a consistency moving around on a cardboard plate. It isn't good.

Beckmann: It's kind of like being back at Boy Scout camp, isn't it?

Walberg: [laughter]
It even got some national media coverage, from

To me, it just comes across as pitiful. He comes home from a country where American soldiers and Iraqi civilians are losing their lives every day, and that doesn't seem to have any impact on him. But they change the coffee? It's the end of the world!

I'm not the only one who felt like this. Here's an editorial from (for some reason, the link doesn't seem to work anymore...):

[Walbergs, hopefully, don't represent the majority,, 1/17/08] (Lynsy Smithson-Stanley)

Thursday January 17, 2008, 8:42 AM

After sharing his experience in Iraq on the radio yesterday, Congressman Tim Walberg shared his disgust for the environmentally sound changes the Capitol is making in the cafeteria.

On WJR Detroit, he bemoaned the "absolutely chemical" taste of the coffee, which had so sneakily replaced his Starbucks double espresso.

Let the surge stand, but for the love of all that is holy, GET THIS MAN HIS STARBUCKS!

Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that the Capitol used the organic standard set by another federal institution, the USDA. In that case, then this new coffee was certified by the federal government to have been least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). Any remaining product ingredients must consist of nonagricultural substances approved on the National List or non-organically produced agricultural products that are not commercially available in organic form.

Yet he was tasting chemicals. Interesting, Congressman.

He described the changes, including the use of "cardboard" for plates, as "terrible."

In reality, this "cardboard" is really 100 percent biodegradable and part of the greater Green the Capitol Initiative. Other changes include switching the Dome to earth-friendly lighting and eliminating what Walberg must like his eggs served on: styrofoam.

Or, as we "green" people like to call it, the worst substance in the world (insert Keith Oberman intonation here.)

So here's to hoping others in position to lead our country into the future aren't hopping on the anti-change bandwagon.

(Emphasis added.)

Over at Michigan Liberal, Eric B. has more to say:

How was Magic Frank able to bring this stinging indictment of new paper products, and organic coffee in general, to the attention of his listeners? At the end of the clip, Magic Frank mentions Chesapeake rockfish with sweet potato fennel hash and yellow pepper relish; and also pears with Stilton cheese and watercress. Plug it into Google, and you come up with a stinging investigation on the new House menu by The Politico (which gave us weeks of detailed coverage on John Edwards' haircut). It gives us comments from anonymous House staffers who've apparently forgotten that they can always bring their lunches from home, and also Jeff Ventura, the spokesman for the guy who runs the cafeteria and my newest hero, who gave former retail peons everywhere reason to cheer when he said this:

"We have had a few people observe that [straw] phenomenon and we had to tell them, 'Sip your coffee like a normal human being,'" Ventura said. "We're trying to save the planet here."

Right, just like those normal human beings who are smart enough to send back eggs when they're runny enough that they move around the plate.

Tim Walberg-- self-proclaimed environmentalist-- doesn't like the new biodegradable plates or the organic coffee. But that's okay. He wants his artificial coffee and styrofoam back, and that's his right.

But is it really a big deal? Is it worth complaining about on WJR, especially if you already have a pretty spotty record on environmental issues? Does it really matter all that much? If you were talking to Frank Beckmann on the radio, and he asked you about your cafeteria, would you launch into a long diatribe about it? Or would you stick with the things that really mattered?

Besides, you'd think Walberg would be nicer to the organic coffee, considering an organic farmer with no money almost beat him in 2006.

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Then I get back to my office, I find out it is now no longer Starbucks coffee, it is some organically-grown coffee that’s supposed to be green. Well, maybe that’s the problem.

"Well, maybe that's the problem", huh, Timmy? Obvioualy, Timmy doesn't put much value on the idea of "green" . And of course, who would appreciate Mr. Walbarg's disparaging comment better than ultra-conservative Frank Beckman.
Tim's love of Starbucks isn't the issue...Mark Schauer and his campaign need to jump ALL over this--a congressman who just returned from Irag where a thousand billion dollars has been tossed down the drain, the state of Michigan's and now the rest of the USA's economy is falling apart thanks to the last two terms of George W, the unemployment rate in District 7 in pushing 7% and the good congressman is bitching about his double espressos not being up to his standards. Where IS Schauer? Goodness!
Hi Alan,
I agree that Starbucks isn't the issue but because fitzy already alluded to the irony of Walberg's just arriving from war-torn ME and complaining about having to eat off of styrofoam and drink chemically-induced coffee at Starbuck's, I thought it was also quite revealing when this "great" environmentalist made a disparaging remark regarding the cafeteria's efforts to go "green" and he says, "maybe THAT'S the problem". Among other flaws in his character, it shows just how much stock he puts in trying to make American's more environmentally aware.
I totally agree with you. But the campaign issue should be his detachment from the 7th District. Green is good but if this turns into a debate about who is more 'green', it won't be as effective as trying to paint Walberg as someone who doesn't share the 'values' of Michigan. More concerned about COFFEE than the lives of real people. His moronic ecology world view is just a bonus target.
Give him a break. All he wants is a decent cup of coffee. Is that too much to ask? Stop being so hard on him.

He sleeps on his couch in his office (don't ask where his wife sleeps.) He struggles to make ends meet as he rakes in more than forty grand a year from a legislative pension (and free healthcare for him and his wife) while pulling down another hundred and seventy grand in Congress. By my ciphering, that gives him nearly a quarter of a million dollars per year and no housing or health care costs.

Life is rough. The thing I cannot figure out is why he doesn't have one of his wussie staffers, who keep crying about wanting to use one of their earned paid days off once in a while, get him his damn coffee. They should be running around trying to find a decent mug or two of java for the Prince of the 7th.
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