Friday, April 18, 2008

7th District Democratic Convention April 18

Tomorrow, April 19th, Democrats across the state are going to be meeting to elect delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Those delegates, elected by congressional district, may or may not be seated in Denver, because Michigan broke the rules. But that's an entirely different issue.

So why am I writing about it here? Is it because Fitzy is a candidate for Uncommitted delegate and is trolling for votes? Well, yes and no. I am a candidate for one of the Uncommitted delegate spots, but the change in date to April 19th has made it impossible for me to attend the district convention (originally, it was scheduled for March 29). So I've given up on actually getting elected. (Mind you, if I were elected, I'd be thrilled to go to Denver.)

But there's something much more important than electing delegates to the DNC. This is going to be a gathering of some of the most dedicated Democratic activists in the district. What better time to talk about ways to defeat Tim Walberg? This is a phenomenal opportunity to collaborate and discuss and plan. And, sadly, I'm going to be missing it.

But I'd love to hear some first-hand accounts. If you're going, take advantage of it! Connect with Democratic leaders and build a winning campaign! And, please, report back to me. I want to hear about it. I really, really wish I could be there.

Sound like something worth doing? If you're a registered Democrat and eligible to participate in the 7th District convention (see the Delegate Selection Plan), consider attending tomorrow at:

UAW Region 1-C Hall
1002 E. South Street
Jackson, MI

Go, support the party, and help build the effort to vote Tim Walberg out of office.


Oh, and that other thing, about electing delegates to the Democratic National Convention? Sure, that's important too. The 7th District gets five delegates, three of whom will be for Senator Hillary Clinton and two for Uncommitted.

Below is the list of Uncommitted delegate candidates for the 7th District, via Michigan Liberal. I am somewhere on that list, though I'm not wild about broadcasting my actual name for all to see. If you're interested in voting for me at the district convention, contact me personally if you really want to know my name. If you figure it out (not really that hard to do) or guess correctly and leave it in the comments, however, I'm afraid I'll have to delete that comment. Like I said, I don't want my name out there for everyone to see. There are lots of people on the internet, and not all are friendly.


A few interesting names I noticed on first glance. Fred Strack was the second-place finisher in the 2006 Democratic primary for the 7th District. Frances Sibley is the head of the Lenawee County Democratic Party, and Leonard Smigielski is the head of the Jackson County Democratic Party and is the 7th District chair. I recognize a couple of other names, too, but can't quite place them right now.

Also via Michigan Liberal, here's the Clinton delegate candidate list for the 7th District:
ANDERSON, THOMAS                07 M
From the Michigan Liberal diary, some of these names have been rejected by the Clinton campaign, but it's unclear which. Either way, a few names jump out again. Pam Byrnes is a state representative, David Nacht is a former congressional candidate, and Rosemary DiPonio is the head of the Eaton County Democrats.

Regardless of your presidential candidate preference, if you're planning on attending tomorrow, I'd encourage you to help lay the foundation for our campaign against Tim Walberg.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Schauer Raises $326,000 in 1Q

Unlike Sharon Renier, Mark Schauer's campaign finance information for the first quarter of 2008 isn't online yet. When available, I'll post it later this week.

However, the campaign did send out a press release:

More than $326,000 raised in third quarter indicates solid momentum

BATTLE CREEK-The Schauer for Congress campaign announced today that it has raised more than $326,000 in the third quarter and more than $900,000 total to date. The financial support is the result of more than 1,000 contributions in the quarter, 86 percent of which came from individuals within Michigan.

"From small towns to downtowns, first time donors and online donors, people are stepping up because they believe in what we're doing," said Schauer. "Their dedication will help us deliver a change in November, a change focused on jobs and solutions."

The campaign has consistently demonstrated strong financial support since beginning last August. Currently, it has more than $750,000 cash-on-hand.

"Congressman Walberg has had Dick Cheney in town raising money for him and we expect the Club for Growth special interest group will pour in cash for him like they did in the last election, " said BJ Neidhardt, campaign director. "He has a lot of wealthy supporters willing to bankroll his campaign to stay in Washington, so it's important that we keep working hard to be able to defend against their impending attacks."
(Emphasis added.)

Every quarter, Schauer continues to impress me, and the fact that he's almost raised a million dollars this early is incredible. The fact that he's sitting on $750,000 right now is even more meaningful. He's spent less than a quarter of what he's raised, and he has more than enough resources to compete with Walberg this summer.

In 2006, we saw that more money doesn't always mean more votes. But when you're raising $326,000 in a quarter from over 1,000 donors, the vast majority of whom live in Michigan, it doesn't hurt.

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Sharon Renier's First Quarter Fundraising

Sharon Renier was the first active candidate to file with the Federal Elections Commission for the first quarter of 2008.

Renier raised $275 this quarter, with $200 of it coming from one supporter. This brings her to a total of $1,830 raised for the election thus far.

This quarter, she spent $281.73. Her current cash-on-hand is $45.04, but her campaign carries debts of $5,200.

Renier insists that she can win without money in a grassroots-powered campaign. All I can say is, even people-powered movements have more than $45 in the bank. Eventually, she'll need some money if she hopes to compete against Schauer in the primary or Walberg in the general.

I like Sharon a lot. She's passionate and she gets people energized. But I can't help but wonder how serious she is this time around. I'm not a big fan of vanity campaigns.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

SEIU Endorses Schauer

Last month, both Mark Schauer and Sharon Renier competed for the endorsement of the SEIU Michigan State Council. SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, represents nearly 80,000 workers in Michigan in health care, state and local government, and building services. These aren't the flashy people who get all the headlines. These are the people who actually work for a living, making the essential services we rely on actually work.

Both Schauer and Renier participated in the "Walk A Day In My Shoes" program, in which each of them spent a work day alongside actual SEIU members, doing their jobs alongside them. In their press releases for each candidate's working experience, SEIU writes:
"Our decision to endorse a Congressional candidate will come directly from our members in the workplace," said Phil Thompson, SEIU Michigan State Council president and executive vice president of SEIU Local 517M. "SEIU members want to know that people running for office understand what it's like to do their jobs and walk a day in their shoes."

Marge Faville, secretary-treasurer of SEIU Healthcare Michigan and the Michigan State Council treasurer, said: "Our representatives in Congress must appreciate and understand what our members go through so they can carry our message to Capitol Hill. By standing shoulder-to-shoulder with workers, candidates for public office demonstrate that they are willing to earn our support."
Schauer spent his day in Adrian alongside Annette Freeman, a Certified Nursing Assistant at the Lenawee Medical Care Facility. Renier spent her day working with Denise Mazuk, a home care worker who cares for the elderly in the Battle Creek area.

Ultimately, the SEIU Michigan State Council chose to endorse Schauer. In their announcement, they explain:

“Our members firmly believe that Mark Schauer is the best candidate to represent the citizens of Michigan’s 7th District,” said Phil Thompson, SEIU Michigan State Council president and executive vice president of SEIU Local 517M. “He has a long, proven record of standing by working families, especially when it comes to providing access to quality and affordable health care.”


“Mark Schauer understands our values and our concerns and has been a strong advocate for working families,” said Marge Faville, secretary-treasurer of SEIU Healthcare Michigan and the Michigan State Council treasurer. “We are very impressed with Mark’s passion, dedication and firm grasp of the issues SEIU members care about.”

Faville said SEIU members were impressed with Schauer’s stances on the Iraq War and health care: “Mark Schauer has opposed the war from the beginning and he wants to bring our troops home as soon as possible. When they get home, he wants the troops — and every American — to have access to affordable, quality health care. Those two issues are extremely important to SEIU members, as they are to all Michiganders. Mark Schauer shares our members’ vision for a better Michigan and a stronger nation.”

Schauer, who served in the state House from 1996 before being elected to the state Senate in 2002, said: “I’m extremely honored to have the support of the SEIU Michigan State Council. The SEIU believes that Michigan’s working families deserve a voice in Washington and that it is time for a change. I share those beliefs and values, and I will carry them with me to Capitol Hill.”

Congratulations to Senator Schauer for the endorsement, and thank you to both Mark Schauer and Sharon Renier for taking the time to seek this endorsement. Thank you for choosing to spend time with the people whose lives you will affect should either of you be elected to Congress.

Which brings me to something from their announcement, which I find very telling:
To obtain the SEIU endorsement, Schauer and his opponent in the Democratic primary went through a multistep, member-driven process that included filling out a questionnaire on issues important to members and their families, participating in a candidate “meet and greet” with members and taking part in a “Walk A Day In My Shoes” event, where candidates spent a day working side-by-side with SEIU members. U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), the incumbent Congressman in the 7th District, did not respond to the SEIU’s invitation to participate in the endorsement process.
(Emphasis added.)

I know that SEIU is a union, and Congressman Walberg is a Republican, so the odds were slim to start with. But wouldn't it have been nice to see our representative choose to work alongside the men and women he represents, and try to convince their union that he really can bring about positive change? Even if it was a lost cause, that kind of effort would have meant a lot to me and to a lot of other people.

I suppose Walberg enjoys the company of his friends in the Club for Growth more.

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A ROMP With Tim Walberg

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a program called "Red to Blue," in which they pick districts with strong Democratic candidates or weak Republicans (or both) and provide additional attention. This is purely offense, seeking to, well, turn "red" districts "blue" and elect more Democrats. (The incumbent protection program is called "Frontline.")

State Senate Majority Leader Mark Schauer, a Democratic candidate in the Michigan 7th, was selected for the DCCC's "Red to Blue" program for 2008.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the DCCC's counterpart, doesn't exactly have the same sort of thing that they publicize. However, Daily Kos front-page blogger brownsox brings us this:

It’s not uncommon for congressional leaders to steer fundraising assistance to party candidates who are in difficult races and in need of extra campaign cash. One such effort is the House Republicans’ “ROMP,” an acronym for Regain Our Majority Program, which has released its latest list of Republican candidates who will benefit from additional aid because they are politically vulnerable and/or have been targeted by the Democrats for defeat.

“ROMP 2008,” presently overseen by the political operation of House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio, was recently established in papers filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). These records identify the 10 newest recipients of the program’s assistance.

These candidates make up the first batch of ROMP candidates named this year, and the third since the current election cycle began in the 2007-08 cycle. The new recipients’ election contests are outlined below.

(Emphasis added.)

In his post, brownsox is kind enough to give both the list and a startling observation:

Rep. Michelle Bachmann, MN-06
Rep. Vito Fossella, NY-13
Rep. Sam Graves, MO-06
Rep. Ric Keller, FL-08
Anne Northup, KY-03
Erik Paulsen, MN-03
Rep. Bill Sali, ID-01
Rep. Jean Schmidt, OH-02
Rep. Tim Walberg, MI-07
Darren White, NM-01

Notice that this ROMP program, ostensibly focused on regaining the Republican majority, seems disproportionately tilted towards protecting incumbent Republican Reps. In fact, out of these 10 districts where the elephants hope to ROMP, exactly one is currently held by a Democrat, John Yarmuth of Kentucky's 3rd District.

I find this to be a novel and fascinating method of Regaining Their Majority; by not targeting Democratic-held seats. I wish them the best of luck with this; I'm sure it's going to work out just splendidly. Keep avoiding the Dem-held seats, and they oughta have that ol' majority back in no time flat.

Hmm... In addition to having only $5 million cash-on-hand, while the DCCC has $38 million cash-on-hand, things don't look great for House Republicans in terms of regaining that majority.

And, in case you didn't notice it, our very own Congressman Tim Walberg made it to the ROMP list. This is a district which George W. Bush carried with 54 percent (2004), Joe Schwarz carried with 58 percent (2004), and Nick Smith carried with almost 60 percent (2002). And House Republicans think Tim Walberg has a good chance of losing it.

Hey, 7th District Republicans! I hear that Clark Bisbee is interested in running! Are you sure you want to stick with Walberg?

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Walberg, Schauer on FISA

Many of you may remember the controversy caused by the Bush Administration got not too long ago involving their use of warrantless wiretaps and other surveillance, sometimes domestically. Critics said, "Hey! You can't do that! It's illegal!" The Bush Administration said, "... But we're using it to fight terrorists!" The critics again replied, "It's still illegal!"

Just to be even more clear about it, when the House of Representatives passed the Intelligence Authorization Act last year, they added an amendment regarding such surveillance programs. Here's what I wrote when that happened:
Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, offered an amendment yesterday.
An amendment numbered 10 printed in House Report 110-144 to state that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) shall be the exclusive means by which domestic electronic surveillance for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence information may be conducted, and makes clear that this applies until specific statutory authorization for electronic surveillance, other than as an amendment to FISA, is enacted.
In other words, no more warrantless wiretapping by the Bush Administration. For those that have forgotten, President Bush has asserted in the past that the FISA court, which allows the government to secretly conduct domestic surveillance with only a handful of people knowing, was too slow. Instead, the president felt that he was justified in ordering the wiretapping of anyone, anywhere, at any time without a warrant from any court, and without any oversight. We were supposed to trust that he'd only watch the terrorists, of course.

That's my biased explanation, and some out there might disagree with how I characterized the warrantless wiretapping program. But-- here's the thing that has me shocked and amazed-- it looks like Congressman Tim Walberg, for once, agrees with me.

Tim Walberg voted Yes on the Schiff Amendment. A total of 23 Republicans joined 222 Democrats to pass the amendment, 245 to 178. In addition to Congressman Walberg, Michigan Republicans Vern Ehlers (MI-03) and Fred Upton (MI-06) voted to support the amendment.

Although I still think Congressman Walberg should be voted out of office, this was a very pleasant surprise this morning. Thank you, Congressman, for asserting that the executive branch does not have unlimited powers, and that even the president must follow the law.
It was one of my rare moments of actually agreeing with Tim Walberg. It was amazing.

Still, that didn't settle the controversy. The FISA court, many felt, was too slow and not able to handle modern threats, so people proposed a few possible fixes. This was the subject of much debate, most of which isn't relevant to this post. If you're really interested in more of the details, start with Wikipedia, and continue from there.

A major point of dispute did arise, however, and continues to be an issue. The Bush Administration requested an amendment to any bill which "fixes" FISA which would include retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that helped the Bush Administration while it was breaking the law in its warrantless surveillance program.

Let's be clear about this. The telecom companies knew they were breaking the law. They've got lawyers and everything, and I think most lawyers are at least vaguely familiar with the Fourth Amendment, which says that unreasonable searches and seizures (like listening to your phone calls without a warrant) aren't allowed. They're probably even familiar with some of the Supreme Court rulings and complicated legal arguments around the issues. I mean, lawyers generally know the law pretty well. And a big corporation doesn't do anything without talking to its lawyers.

It also doesn't help that the Bush Administration refuses to show congressional leaders documents related to their warrantless surveillance program. It's hard to forgive someone for something when you don't even know exactly what they did.

After a great deal of debate and leadership from Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) against granting immunity, the Senate passed a bill with retroactive immunity and the House passed a bill without retroactive immunity.

Congressman Tim Walberg, a proud supporter of President Bush, voted No on the bill without retroactive immunity.

Congressman Walberg then went to the Battle Creek Enquirer to offer his thoughts in an op-ed:
As we enter into April, our nation begins its seventh straight week of being more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Misguided leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives is directly responsible for our country's current state of vulnerability. On Feb. 17, important updates to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) expired, and House leadership refused to pass a permanent bipartisan FISA update modified to address today's world of instantaneous communication.

Without these updates, our intelligence community is back to using pre-9/11 gathering tools, which is completely unacceptable. Because FISA updates expired, American intelligence officials currently must fill out lengthy, detailed applications before new surveillance of foreign terrorists can begin. This process can take hours, with no guarantees.

American military and intelligence officials need the right tools to protect American citizens from terrorist threats. These officials need to be able to monitor, without delay, communications between suspected and known foreign terrorists in foreign countries. We must not prevent our intelligence community from being able to monitor Osama bin Laden's phone calls.
Ah geez. From the sounds of it, Nancy Pelosi and John Conyers pretty much invited Osama bin Laden to tea!

Really, this is ridiculous rhetoric. Congressman Walberg, if our national security is really at stake, why not support the House version-- which gives President Bush all the tools he asked for-- and deal with retroactive immunity later? If it matters as much as Walberg says, if terrorists are plotting to exploit this weakness, why not support any bill that strengthens our intelligence agencies? Can't telecom immunity wait for a week or two?

But Walberg does address the issue of retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies in his op-ed:
House leadership will not support current FISA legislation because the bill would prevent trial lawyers from suing American telecommunications companies who cooperate with American intelligence agencies' monitoring of foreign terrorist communications.

Recent news reports revealed that almost 40 lawsuits are pending against the very telecommunications companies who helped our country in a time of crisis. Gathering intelligence to defend America's national security has never been and should never be a political issue.

It is shameful that some in Washington place the ability of trial lawyers to sue over national security. When American companies assist American intelligence agencies with monitoring foreign terrorist threats, they should be thanked, not sued.
That's right... blame the trial lawyers. Obviously, the only reason anyone is suing the telecom companies is because they're greedy. They're not suing because the NSA potentially invaded our privacy.

Congressman Walberg, however, is pure and altruistic on this issue, standing up for telecommunications companies because they were patriotic! It has nothing whatsoever to do with getting a $2,000 contribution from AT&T's federal PAC. Those things never matter to politicians.

Nevermind the fact that the telecommunications companies broke the law. Nevermind the fact that instead of giving them blanket immunity, we should be giving them a chance to state their case and defend themselves in federal court, as the House bill does. And nevermind the fact that we'd be giving them immunity without even knowing exactly what they did.

I agree, FISA probably needs updating. So, Congressman Walberg, just update FISA, and let the courts decide whether laws were broken and what the punishment should be. Isn't that why we have courts? Aren't we a nation of laws?

And stop making people like me seem like terrorist sympathizers. We're not, and you know it.

Now, if you noticed the title, you saw that it was "Walberg, Schauer on FISA." You're probably wondering where Mark Schauer comes into this, right?

Schauer, a Democratic candidate for Congress, released this video:

It's great to see that Schauer is taking a firm stand on this, and this is a great issue to define Walberg on. "I believe that corporations who break the law should be held accountable in court. Tim Walberg thinks we should give them immunity after they've broken the law."

These issues matter, and it's good to see Democrats standing up on them.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Congressman Tim loves his Pork!

Remember when Candidate Tim kept criticizing Good Ole Joe about his nasty habit of "bringing home the bacon"?

Well, I guess things change from Candidate to Congressman. The Citizens Against Government Waste released their report on the Fiscal Year 2008 Budget and Congressman Tim is listed for 17 projects! On six projects, he is the only House Sponsor.

Lets take a quick look, shall we?

These are projects he sponsored with other House members:
$111,216 for Armilliaria Root Rot Research
$368,403 for Apple Fire Blight Research
$262,152 for Bovine Tuberculosis Research
$156,894 for "Improved Fruit Practices" Research
$283,005 for Sustainable Agriculture Research
$368,403 for Phytophthora Research
$3,200,000 for Fleece Insulating Liners for extended cold weather for the Army
$2,000,000 for Multi Climate Protection System for the Navy
$2,500,000 for Sonobuoys for the Navy
$2,400,000 for Cold Weather Layering System for the Marine Corps
$1,722,700 for the Great lakes Fisheries Office, Fish Mass Marking Equipment

These projects are those where he is the lone House Sponsor:
$1,600,000 for Total Perimeter Surveillance
$487,000 for Adrian College for Nurse Training Programs
$195,000 for Siena Heights University, Adrian, for Nursing Programs
$158,000 for ProMedica Continuing Care , Adrian, for a telemedicine initiative
$343,000 for ITA Bus Replacement, Jackson
$490,000 for W.K. Kellogg Airport, Battle Creek, Runway

I will attempt to define some of these projects over the coming weeks, but, Congressman Tim needs to explain his "conversion" to Pork!


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