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Bernie Ziebart

The Engineering Perspective

The blog is a view of life, science, politics and education from an engineering perspective. As engineers, we are taught to view the world objectively. We can hope, believe and calculate a particular outcome, but natural laws are inflexible and pay no heed to who we are or what we believe. We must approach the objective dispassionately, while compensating for our own distorted perceptions. Balance is also a key element; balancing between the ideal and the pragmatic, balancing cost and functionality, balancing analysis with action, etc.

Scheduling routine critical self-analysis is the foundation to objectivity. If we do not fully understand and compensate for our own failures, tendencies, habits and skewed thought processes, we will not see the world as it is. Without a regular critical self-analysis we will see the world as we are and then fall prey to self-delusion.

Failure is a great teacher. When failure is coupled with perseverance, it produces the fruit of patience and humility. An engineer, fresh out of engineering school is typically set up for failure early and often. The failure breaks the new engineer of any ideas of self-importance, arrogance and book smarts. Only then can the new engineer be formed and molded into a productive element in the industry.


Tammy Baldwin

tammy baldwin, Tommy Thompson

After watching the Senatorial debate last week, I decided to find out who Tammy Baldwin is and what she believes.

Tammy Baldwin voting record

Baldwin was elected in to the 2nd congressional district in1998 and has a solid record of voting for socially liberal policies; abortion, gun rights, welfare, immigration and marriage. She has voted against military funding and military actions, voted against sanctions against Iran four times, voted for major expansions of government, voted against trade resolutions and has a mixed record on oil drilling.  Needless to say, she will not get the endorsement of the NRA, National Right to Life or conservative Tax policy groups.

 I had noticed a shift in Baldwin’s voting record in 2010. From 1999 to early 2010, she voted with Judy Chu, D-Calif., Linda Sanchez, D-Calif. and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. In mid 2010 she began voting with the Democratic Party mainstream at a higher rate. Coincidentally, the change in voting pattern happened about the same time that Senator Kohl announced that he would not seek re-election.

 Dan Bice of the Journal/Sentinel recently noted that Baldwin had received $60, 000 in campaign donations from a Pro-Iranian group, Council for a Livable World. This might explain her opposition to even the mildest sanctions proposed by President Obama in 2011.

 Other unique positions:

Baldwin voted against honoring the 9/11 victims. The vote was meaningless, but it did put her in the national spotlight for a few weeks.

She co-sponsored a bill to remove funding for the defensive armament and medical care of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This affected items such as Kevlar vests and helmets.

She voted against the Bush tax cuts and subsequent middle class tax relief.

 I have reviewed Tammy’s voting record since 1999 and I have placed all of the votes into three categories; votes on inane bills, votes for the positions on which I agree and votes against positions on which I agree. I will not address the votes on the inane bills.  I really don’t care if she did or didn’t vote to make the daffodil the national flower.

A few of the major Bills on which Baldwin and I disagree (listing all of the bills is not practical):

HR 1691, July 15, 1999 Religious Liberty Protection Act

H Amdt 142, June 8, 1999, Prohibition of Chemically induced abortion

H Con Res 180, Sept 9, 1999, Puerto Rican Nationals resolution

HR 2990, Oct 6, 1999, Patient Bill of Rights

HR 4810, July 20, 2000, Marriage Tax Relief Bill

HR 2975, Oct 12, 2001, Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 (Tools to monitor terrorist activity on the heels of the World Trade Center attack)

HR 5, March 13, 2003, Malpractice Liability Caps

HR 4, Feb 13, 2003, Welfare Reform Bill

HR 1528, June 19, 2003, Taxpayer protection Act

HR 660, June 19, 2003, Small Business Healthcare Act

HR 3660 and S 3, Oct 2, 2003, Prohibit Partial Birth/Late Term abortions

HR 2028, Sept 23, 2004, Pledge of Allegiance Protection Bill

S 397, Oct 20, 2005, Firearms Manufacturer Protection Bill

H Amdt, 272, June 15, 2005, Marijuana legalization Act

HR 2454, June 26, 2009, Energy and Environmental Law Amendments, “Cap and Trade”

HR 3435, July 31, 2009, Appropriations for the “Cash for Clunker” program

HR 4173, Dec 11, 2009, Regulation and Oversight of the Financial system, did not vote

HR 3534, July 30, 2010, Offshore Drilling regulations

HR 2965, Dec 15, 2010, Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Act

HR 5281, Dec 8, 2010, Dream Act

HR 3590, March 21, 2010, Patient protection and Affordable Care Act

H Amdt 95, Feb 19, 2011, Prohibiting Use of Federal funds for Planned Parenthood

HR 471, March 30, 2011, School Vouchers for Washington DC

HR 1230, May 5, 2011, Offshore Leasing Act

HR 1249, June 23, 2011, Patent Law amendment

HR 2417, July 12, 2011, Repeal Energy efficiency standards for the light bult

HR 2278, June 24, 2011, Limits the Use of Funds in Support of NATO in Libya

HR 2560, July 19, 2011, Repeal the Cap and Balance Act of 2011

HR 2587, Sept 15, 2011, National Labor Relations Boards Prohibition

HR 358, Oct 13, 2011, “Stupak Amendment” to the Affordable Care Act

Numerous trade agreements with South American and African countries

Voted against every military appropriations bill, except one

Voted against every sanction against Iran, except HR 1954 which was more of a generic sanction against nations that sponsor terrorism.

Voted for over 45,000 “earmarks” 

These are the votes on major bills that Tammy and I agree on:

H Res 292, June 3 2011, Ground Forces in Libya. She voted against using troops or getting involved in the Libyan civil war. 

H Amdt 72, April 20, 2005, Arctic National wildlife Drilling amendment. She voted to drill in ANWAR

HR 339, March 10, 2004, Food Industry Obesity Act “Cheeseburger Bill”. Tammy believes that people have no right to sue a food establishment if they become obese, “Don’t blame anyone else for the abdication of your own responsibilities.”

H Con Res 42, March 11, 1999, Kosovo Peacekeeping Operations. No troops to Kosovo


Member, American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin (ACLU)
Member, International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials
Member, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Member, National Organization for Women
Member, Wisconsin Citizen Action

Clearly, Tammy and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum.


Tammy has voted against her party many times; showing independence. She has clashed with Pelosi on more than one occasion. As a result she is not the chairperson on any major committee despite her long tenure in the House.


She did not vote with Democrats on numerous bills because she is well to the left of mainstream Democratic thought. 

Baldwin was very outspoken against the Affordable Care Act as were all of the Republicans…but for different reasons. She did not think the Affordable Care Act went far enough. In the end, she voted for it because she thought it was a step in the right direction.

While she voted against holding fast food establishments responsible for the obesity of its patrons, she voted for holding the gun manufacturers responsible for the firearm crimes. I think that this is a bit hypocritical.  

Baldwin employs David Stacy, a registered lobbyist, on her staff, yet she condemns the lobbying activities by Thompson. Baldwin has also received many donations from multiple lobbying groups; $216,743 from EMILY’s list, $54,865 from the JStreetPAC, $65,800 from Democracy Engine, etc.  If she opposes lobbyists and lobby groups, she should return the money that she had received from lobby groups.

Her vote against honoring the victims of 9/11 (H Res. 994) is odd and she attempted to explain her “no” vote by decrying what she called the endorsement of “highly controversial measures.”

H. Res. 994 is outlined below;

“extends its deepest sympathies to the spouses, children, mothers, fathers, and other loved ones of the victims of September 11, 2001;

“honors the heroic actions of first responders, law enforcement personnel, State and local officials, volunteers, and others who aided the innocent victims and bravely risked their own lives and health following the September 11, 2001 attacks;

“extends its deepest gratitude to military, intelligence and law enforcement personnel serving both at home and abroad in the global war on terrorism and for the sacrifices of their families and loved ones;”

I can’t imagine what is controversial in the measures listed. 

My recommendation: 

While I am not a big fan of Tommy Thompson, I think he will do less damage than Tammy Baldwin.  

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