Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Truth About... Mark?

Several alert commenters have already been talking about this, but I've been slow getting around to writing about it. Sorry about that...

They say that imitation is the finest form of flattery, right? That's what I'm telling myself about the newest political website to focus on Michigan's 7th District, In what may be a conservative response to Walberg Watch, the website is "dedicated to clarifying Senator Mark Schauer's stands on issues of the day."

My first comment will be this: I'm up front and open about the purpose and intentions of Walberg Watch. Right up at the top, it says "Covering and Opposing Congressman Tim Walberg, the Radical Conservative of Michigan's 7th District." I in no way claim to be an impartial source of information. The tagline given by "The Truth About Mark" makes it sound like a public service, deciphering the complicated votes that he might take in the state Senate.

It's clearly a website designed to portray Schauer in a bad light-- "Does Mark believe that Seventh District voters are bigots?" is a headline-- and I'd be a lot more impressed if they didn't try to maintain the facade of "clarifying Senator Mark Schauer's stands on issues of the day."

But that's really just a petty complaint on my part. I also don't like the color scheme or the layout, but none of that really matters.

The information they have presented thus far has some basis in fact, and they do include documentation to support their claims. Everything is heavily biased, obviously, but it's at least one or two steps better than the website the Club for Growth created in 2006. And hey, they even cite Walberg Watch for one of their pages. I feel so proud.

It's also worth noting that if this is the conservative response to Walberg Watch, I think that my own creation is far superior. Is it because I'm a talented writer? Well, no, because I'm not. Is it because I'm blinded by partisanship, and dislike all things conservative? I certainly hope not. No, the reason their website is inferior to this blog is... you.

I'm proud of the fact that I don't censor or delete comments. I don't approve what you have to say, and, while I might disagree or respond to you, you're free to say whatever you want. (There have been one or two instances where someone crossed the line, but that's only for extreme circumstances and very offensive language.)

But that's not the case for Here's their editorial policy:

General Policy

This website highlights and clarifies the positions which Michigan State Senator Mark Schauer has taken on important governmental issues.

Because we wish for the site to focus on Senator Schauer, and not on those authors and contributors who supply content, we provide source documentation for all material that appears on this site. Viewers who disagree with any of the items presented here will thereby find it easier to approach the source to register their concerns.

Although visitors are free to suggest ideas for inclusion here, this site will be moderated, and content which the site's managers consider to be offensive or distracting will not be posted.

User Categories

Anonymous users, i.e., those who do not have user names and passwords, are allowed to see the public material posted on the site.

Registered users, who have applied for, and been granted, user names and passwords, are allowed to see both the publicly available information and the comments and posts which site visitors have made, either in response to the public material or to the various forums which we maintain here. Registered users are also allowed to submit comments for approval by the site's moderators.

Trusted users who have applied for, and been granted, more extensive privileges, are allowed to do everything that registered users do, and, in addition, to submit comments directly to the site, without going through one of our moderators.

(Emphasis added.)

Did you see that? You can't even look at the comments without registering, and anything you post has to be approved. More than that, it can be removed if it's too "distracting" from the purpose of the site.

I'm just saying, everyone is welcome at Walberg Watch, even if they disagree. Us left-wing liberal commie folks are tolerant and loving, not authoritarian and repressive.

Oh, and some trivia. I considered "The Truth About Tim" as a name for this blog when I started it, but eventually rejected it as too wordy. Now that I see essentially the same name in action, I feel I made the right choice.

In short, Walberg Watch is better. But I'll gladly admit that I'm a very biased observer. Moving on...

Who's running this, and who's paying for it? That's information you have to do some digging for.

At the bottom of every page is:
Paid for by the Seventh District Congressional Committee with regulated funds.
E-Mail Address:
... and that's the only contact information given. However, the only posts made so far have been by the user wdseelig, and a WhoIs search tells us that someone named Wyckham Seelig registered the domain on October 23, 2007.

Seelig is the chairman of the 7th District Republican Party. I've got to say, it's a little refreshing to see the GOP finally catching on to the power of the internet. A little competition is always good.

But that alone is significant. When the chairman of a local political committee uses his own time and funds to build an attack website, it says something about both how worried they are about the race and how little grassroots energy they have going for them. I don't want to tell you too much about who I am, but I can assure you, I'm not the chairman of the 7th District Democratic Party, nor am I employed by the DNC.

However, the plot thickens...

The e-mail address Seelig used to register the website was with, the website of the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, based in Ann Arbor. Seelig had been a program manager and then vice president with NCMS, but apparently retired a few years ago. When Rich at Michigan Liberal posted about this, he got this update from NCMS:

Update 2: I received an email from a representative of NMSC. This person informs me that Mr. Seelig retained his NMSC email because, though he was retired, he still occsionaly did projects for them. But...

NCMS was not aware Mr. Seelig was using his NCMS e-mail account as a contact address for this web site.

After our internal examination we have found no other NCMS property used to support this activity.

The account has been terminated as of February 6, 2008. In no way was he using this e-mail domain in official NCMS business or proxy.

Looks like someone didn't get the memo about using company resources for political work.
Interesting... It's nice to know that NCMS isn't trying to influence politics in any dishonest ways. Just the usual ones like lobbying and the occasional $1,000 contribution.

So what does all of this mean? I'm not sure. It could mean that Walberg supporters will have an online rallying point from which they can attack Schauer. It could mean I'll actually have to do quality blogging, just to compete.

On the other hand, this whole thing seems kind of sloppy to me. My prediction? will be completely abandoned by May. But then, I could be wrong.

I will say now that in the near future, I'm going to spend some time refuting some of the attacks Seelig makes on his website, which, honestly, won't be too hard. I don't want this to become an all-Schauer all-the-time blog, because the focus is still Walberg, but Mark Schauer is a good Democrat and a strong candidate, and, frankly, I like the guy. And I would do the same thing if the Republicans were attacking Jim Berryman, David Nacht, or Sharon Renier.

UPDATE: An anonymous commenter rightly chastised me for forgetting to point something out. Honestly, I thought I mentioned it, but apparently I didn't.

The bottom of every page says:
Paid for by the Seventh District Congressional Committee with regulated funds.
That's important, as the commenter notes:
You are neglecting the fact that the site claims to be paid for by regulated funds, but there are no legitimate reports to show which funds are used.

This is pretty important. If funds are being used to attack Schauer and are coordinated with republican operatives, there are rules which say they should be disclosed. Walberg has a history of sneaky tactics and this may be another one.
There are strict disclosure rules for political spending, especially by party committees spending "regulated funds" in support of or opposition to a candidate. If this website has been registered since October, one would think that it would have shown up in disclosure reports somewhere along the way. I haven't seen anything.

Labels: , , ,

Nice post. I linked to you in Coffee Talk this morning over on MichLib. :)

~ JPowers155
You are neglecting the fact that the site claims to be paid for by regulated funds, but there are no legitimate reports to show which funds are used.

This is pretty important. If funds are being used to attack Schauer and are coordinated with republican operatives, there are rules which say they should be disclosed. Walberg has a history of sneaky tactics and this may be another one.
You're right, I did forget to mention that! I thought I did, but when I went back and read my post, I saw that there was nothing... I guess my mind is starting to go.

I shall fix this shortly.
Check out this:
to immediate anonymous above:

I'm shortening your url so that it fits the page. I'm afraid that some readers won't be able to copy and paste it because of it's length.

It's too important not to read.
I thought Walberg was a staunch conservative, so I'm puzzled by this.

From the Lansing State Journal:

Walberg backs McCain

Hours after Mitt Romney dropped out of the race for the White House, Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, endorsed presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain.

Officials with Walberg said the decision to back McCain was made after Romney announced he would suspend his campaign.

Walberg spokesman Matt Lahr said Walberg had been "following the race from a distance" and had "stayed out when there were multiple candidates."

Asked if Walberg had been choosing between Romney and McCain, and had decided to endorse McCain once the field thinned, Lahr said he wouldn't describe the situation as that, rather saying that Walberg endorsed McCain because of their agreement on many key issues.

In a statement, Walberg praised McCain's stance on the War on Terror.

His (McCain's) courageous service in the military and steadfast commitment to securing our nation, taking the fight to the terrorists, and supporting our military commanders and troops is vital in this dangerous world.

Walberg also praised Romney, saying he "brought a tremendous record of accomplishment from the private and pubic sector to this campaign, along with many ideas to make America stronger..."

No real surprise that Walberg sat out much of the GOP primary, as he's got a much tougher race to worry about - his own.

Walberg trails prospective Democratic rival Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, in the fundraising race and is consistently listed as among the 10 most vulnerable representatives in Congress.
That link to the financial report does not show any spending. So, how did they pay for that website?

I smell something rotten and it, no suprise, is linked to Tim Walberg. He cannot sem to go six months without some kind of ethical snafu.
The truth about Tim?

I just saw this, must have missed it earlier.

It is a link to the Club for Growth's pork project report. Now, I understand it is probably geared toward making democrats look bad and pork-busting republicans like Walberg look good.

But, Walberg only had an 86% rating (43 out of 50 votes.) There were 45 other reps who voted better as far as pork is concerned. Didn't he campaign on a platform that he would never support pork?

He voted against stopping funding for the Belmont Complex in Pennsylvania. (It is a skating rink. Nice. I'm sure the people of that town are happy with our congressman.)

The total for his votes? $7.3 million. I disagreed with his campaign pledge to never support earmarks, but took it at face value that he had strong convictions.

I was wrong. His "convictions" are mushy.
Speaking of McCain's "courageous service in the military", I'm wondering, with his ultra gung ho war loving posturing, why Walberg never served in the military?

Someone should ask him at his next 'coffee' gathering...
"I'm wondering, with his ultra gung ho war loving posturing, why Walberg never served in the military?"

Answer: (NPQ)Not Physically Qualifed. He's spineless. Also he was a risk, because he would have been hot by his own troops.

However he probably would have been great at taking orders from those above him like he does from CFG!
Can anyone tell me why Mark Schauer is a democratic super delegate?
he is not a superdelegate. any web site or publication that names him as one is mistaken.
fitzy -

to get to the bottom of this 'regulated funds' thing you may have to track down whether or not the 7th District Republicans have a federal PAC. if they're going to influence a federal campaign they should be doing it with federal dollars, not state dollars. and, we've already established that they didn't report it on their state PAC's cfr.
This is the site I was looking at.

Then, this update:
I received the Walberg e-mail newsletter today. If you don't get it, it's mostly about the FISA bill and is cluttered with neo-fasist type lingo (big surprise). Well anyway, here's the response I wrote back via his website (the mailbox from whence the newsletter comes is one of those conveniently unmonitored ones):

I just received your latest e-mail newsletter, and here is my reply:

To whom it may concern:

Thanks for the update.

Ditch the FISA bill! It's not just a Democratic argument that the FISA bill is rubbish and will destroy civil liberties. It's a valid argument that we at the ACLU also espouse. The Executive Branch often has no idea who is an American citizen and who isn't when it spies. The same reasoning applies to the erosion of habeas corpus - if a person can't access the courts, whatever the Executive Branch says, goes, American citizen or not!

Fiber optics etc. don't come with labels on them saying "this line is being occupied by an American citizen". That's the sort of thing that might only be learned ex post facto, if at all, and by then it's too late, we've already been violated.

So please take your gloom and doom scare tactics that read like something out of End Times garbage and send it down the road.

By the way, if the primary mission of Congress is to defend and protect the American people, we need to start by defending and protecting the American people from the Executive Branch!

Michael J. Motta

P.S. The part about Osama Bin Laden's phone calls is so laughable! Are you kidding me? It also insults the intelligence of your constituents. Some advisor must have said "make it a simple story of good and evil, for the sheeple, and throw the name Osama Bin Laden in there to keep up the scare and make a civil liberties issue into a parable of 'with us or against us'".

What percentage of all of the spying that goes on actually pertains to Osama Bin Laden's phone calls? My guess would be ZERO! We don't even know if Bin Laden is alive, and if he is, all accounts seem to be that his making and/or receiving phone calls is the last place he'd be found out.
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