In August of 2006, a man named Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) defeated incumbent Congressman Joe Schwarz (R-Battle Creek) in the Republican primary. Those that live in Michigan's 7th District may remember the vicious primary campaign, in which Walberg-- funded by the Club for Growth and other radical right-wing groups-- destroyed the name and good work of a dedicated public servant. Schwarz was conservative, but he was honest and hard-working, and was one of the few "good" Republicans left. And Tim Walberg, a former far-right minister, attacked Schwarz without mercy.
A few days after the primary, I started a blog called Walberg Watch. Originally hosted on Blogspot, I wanted to create an online record of Walberg's extreme positions as the 2006 election approached, facing the terribly underfunded Democratic nominee Sharon Renier. Walberg won that election by just four percent, and I found myself with a new blogging mission: following Tim Walberg's adventure through what will hopefully be his only term in the United States House of Representatives.
Over the last two years, a lot has changed, with much of it building toward the re-launch at the new www.WalbergWatch.com. Below the fold, I'd like to walk you through some of the additions to Walberg Watch. I'm excited by what we can accomplish in the next 126 days as we work to bring about better representation. I hope that by the time you're done reading this, you are too.
Today, November 5th, 2007, is the launch of The Georgetown Progressive. The Progressive is a new web-based publication written by students at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The Georgetown Progressive will be a publication providing commentary and analysis on national and campus issues alike, and will be available completely free at www.georgetownprogressive.com.
Recently, the GU College Democrats have launched a campus-wide initiative called the Progressive Coalition. The project aims to unite independent, progressive groups on campus with the common goal of engaging more students in democratic (and Democratic) activism. The initiative is run by the College Democrats, but look below the fold to learn about the other organizations involved and what you can do to help...
I am particularly excited about this endorsement for several reasons. First, I am from the district, and ever since Jim Walsh originally won the seat by a few hundred votes back when I was a freshman in high school, I have been itching for someone to defeat him. Second, Dan Maffei epitomizes one of my longest-running arguments about the need to run in every district. In 2004, no Democrat ran against Walsh, but in 2006 Dan came within 1% of defeating him. Third, having met Dan Maffei, I can honestly say that there is no member of Congress, or candidate for Congress, with whom I was more personally impressed and within whom I felt more personally comfortable (there are two or three who I feel roughly the same about). When we talked for over two hours over coffee and pizza, it felt like every idea we exchanged about strategy, policy, and life really clicked (like me, he went to local public schools, and hasn't exactly made a fortune working in progressive politics). Dan is a serious, brilliant progressive, who absolutely means more and better Democrats. Please, contribute to Dan today.
Here is a video Dan put together to introduce himself and the district to the readers of Dailykos, MyDD, Open Left and Swing State Project a few days ago:
Now, some of you might ask something to the effect of "wait-he is running against Jim Walsh, the Republican who just said he was now opposed to the Iraq War? Isn't that the sort of Republican behavior we should be encouraging, rather than immediately punishing with a major counter-endorsement?" If you are asking this question, I am glad you did, because even though the Maffei endorsement was decided upon several days before Walsh's announcement, since that time it has revealed the true danger Democrats face in offering up weak, meaningless, "compromise" bills on Iraq. The NY-25 is the first case study of how Democratic weakness in the House on Iraq can allow Republican to potentially blur the difference between the two parties on Iraq, and thus wipe out virtually our entire advantage heading into the 2008 elections.
Here is the situation. Over the past nine months, Jim Walsh has said he was in favor of withdrawal, and then voted a timeline that would actually mandate withdrawal. Even in discussions with local media yesterday, and in calls I made to his staff, he refused to come out in favor of a timetable. Walsh has said that he is in favor of oversight on Iraq, and then voted against oversight. He said he was opposed to the escalation, and then refused to vote against the escalation. In May, he said he was opposed to a blank check for Bush on Iraq, and then voted to give Bush a blank check on Iraq in the capitulation bill. Everything Walsh is saying now, he ha already said before. The key difference is not hat Walsh has changed his opinion, but that Democats in Congress are changing the legislation they are trying to pass through Congress.
Back in the spring, House Democrats forced votes on stiffer legislation that required real oversight and mandated withdrawal. It only received two votes form Republicans, because the many so-called moderate Republicans who are supposedly against Bush's policy in Iraq are not willing to pass binding legislation opposing Bush's policy in Iraq. They are, however, willing to pass meaningless legislation that suggests Bush should change course, but does not actually require him to do so. For example, Walsh is a co-sponsor of the Kirk-Lipinski bill that does not mandate any troop withdrawal whatsoever, but sets it as a "goal." Compromise bills of this sort are in abundance nowadays, and I imagine Walsh will vote for all of them. However, if a bill comes up that actually mandates troops withdrawal, there is still no indication that he would vote for such a bill. Given everything he has said on the matter, I bet he won't vote for mandated troop withdrawal.
This is the crux of the problem progressives face in the 2008 elections. Bad, Bush Dog Democrats are coming up with cover your ass legislation that won't do anything to drawdown our military involvement in Iraq. Instead, the actual impact of these bills will be to allow Bush Dogs and endangered Republicans alike to appear as though they oppose Bush's policies, and thus strengthen all of their hands for re-election. In short, weak Iraq legislation in Congress will help empower Bush Dogs, and help prevent progressives like Maffei from taking over Republican seats. This is the exact opposite of the more and better Democrats refrain that has been traveling around the blogosphere. Weak Iraq legislation will allow Republicans like Walsh to blur their differences on Iraq all over the country, and the result will be fewer, and worse Democrats.
In the first major case study of this kind for the 2008 elections, we can't let this stand. Supporting Dan Maffei means opposing weak, toothless Iraq legislation in Congress. It means taking a stand against a self-defeating Democratic strategy that will not only do nothing to drawdown the Iraq war, but will also go a long way toward wiping out any chance of a second Democratic wave election. It means supporting more and better Democrats, instead of reverting to the pro-war, minority status Democratic Party of 2002-2003.
Contribute to Dan Maffei on Blue Majority. Fight Bush dogs and Republican blurring alike. This lean-Kerry district is going to be a very big race down the road, and a place where a true progressive like Maffei can hold a seat for a long time to come.
Last month, in a post on Open Left, I wondered if Al Franken was the best example of a progressive movement candidate we had seen to date, given that his campaign is overwhelmingly people powered (over 45,000 donors so far), he passed the "bar fight primary" with flying colors (more than willing to take the fight to Republicans), he comfortably and repeatedly self-identifies as a progressive, and that he came into politics as an outsider, specifically from progressive media. The response I received to that post was almost universally positive, and while I don't know if he is the very best example, he clearly is an excellent case, and so I urge you to contribute to Al Franken on the Blue Majority Page. Let's build the progressive movement together by supporting a first-rate movement candidate.
Today is a particularly appropriate time for us to make this endorsement because, as Jonathan Singer has noted, George Bush is in Minnesota raising money for endangered Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. Tying himself further to George Bush will only push Coleman's already low approval ratings in the state even lower, and make him more vulnerable than he already is. Progressives in the state are countering Bush's visit through a variety of actions, including protests coordinated by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, and by the Franken campaign itself looking to counter Coleman's big money fundraiser with small donor, people-powered energy:
Let's be a part of this effort. With his connections to George Bush, there is an opportunity to knock Coleman all but out of the race in 2007, the way Rick Santorum was all but defeated by a progressive swarm against him in 2005.
As a final note, I want to mention that while Al Franken is involved in a competitive primary in Minneosta, this endorsement comes entirely because Al is so fantastic, not because his primary opponents are clearly defective in any way. Al is a Democrat who I believe will never let us down, and always make us proud. He comes from the progressive movement, and will take the fight to Republicans. He is exactly the sort of candidate many of us have looked for these past few, and we are happy to reward that with our support in and of itself, not just relative to other candidates in the campaign. It certainly is great to make an endorsement for someone, rather than against someone else.
The awareness phase of the campaign to stop global warming has reached a crescendo, which may also be a plateau. With the exception of front groups sponsored by oil companies, it is becoming more and more accepted that we, in fact, are the cause of global warming.
The action phase, however, trails the awareness phase significantly and most troubling of all is the growing belief that someone else is going to be the somebody to actually do something about global warming. Even worse, and most naively of all, that our federal government is going to solve the problem.
West Virginia Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (WV-02) had a chance to earn our praise yesterday. If she had continued on a path she had begun, we would have been the first to have credited her for doing the right thing for West Virginians and the American people. We would have crossed party lines to sing praises because bringing peace to Iraq, bringing our troops home or freeing them for where they are needed in Afghanistan -- that is bigger than partisan politics.
She did not. She deserves to be called out for her cowardly action and this is something you can help with as we'll explain at the end of the diary.
NOTE: WV-02 is frequently rated at this site as one of the top 40-50 pick-up opportunities in 2008.
We did the beta launch on December 1 of a new progressive netroots site BlueSunbelt.Com for the South and Sunbelt states. We are aiming for a formal launch on January 1. We have the site up and running and are in the process of working out any kinks before the formal launch. We need some testers who would like to post diaries and comments during the beta period.
We're going to see a lot of discussion today about problems with voting machines, attempts at voter suppression and intimidation, poll worker confusion and mistakes, and so on.
Here at Common Cause, we're getting these stories straight from the voters' mouths.
That's because we and a number of other organizations are running the 1-866-MYVOTE1 hotline again. We used this in the 2004 elections to show numerous problems with the presidential election that year: long lines, badly trained poll workers, malfunctioning equipment and uneven distribution of machines.
Voters can also call this number to find their polling place as well as to report election problems. Most of the calls we've received on this hotline have been for that purpose, although we've had significant numbers of calls from people reporting problems in voting.
I just got word from the Lamont campaign that they are in need of help tomorrow in the 4th CD. That's the part of Connecticut that's closest to NYC and its suburbs - in fact, much of the district really is a suburb of New York itself. It's very easy to reach by MetroNorth. So if you don't already have election day plans - or you had a moment of inspiration and decided you're gonna call in sick tomorrow - get in touch with the Lamont campaign here:
They'll be answering the phones/checking e-mail all night.