Thursday, December 28, 2006

In Memoriam

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Sgt. Curtis L. Norris, 28, of Dansville who died on Dec. 23rd while serving in Iraq.
Curtis L. Norris died Saturday in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds he received when an improvised explosive device went off near his vehicle, the Defense Department said.

Norris was part of the 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), based at Fort Drum, N.Y.

---from the AP

RIP Sgt. Norris

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

In Memoriam

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Pfc. Wilson A. Algrim, 21, of Howell who died on Dec. 23rd while serving in Iraq.

Pfc. Algrim was one of three Michigan men killed on Saturday in a single incident.

They died Dec. 23 in Salman Pak, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations.They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry, out of Big Rapids.

Killed were:

Pfc. Wilson A. Algrim, 21, of Howell.

Spc. Chad J. Vollmer, 24, of Grand Rapids.

Pvt. Bobby Mejia II, Saginaw.

---from the Lansing State Journal

RIP Pfc Algrim, Spc. Vollmer, and Pvt. Mejia

In Memoriam

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Army Pfc. Andrew H. Nelson, 19, of St. Johns who died on Christmas Day while serving in Iraq.

Pfc. Andrew H. Nelson, 19, and the others died of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations Dec. 25 in Baghdad, Iraq. They were assigned to the 9th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

But locally he was known as a four-year letter winner on the swimming and diving team. He graduated from St. Johns High School in 2005.

Nelson made the State Journal all-area team as a senior in 2004-05, when he qualified individually for the Division 2 state meet in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard butterfly.

“He was very competitive, very driven,” said swim coach Kim Brewbaker. “The kind of kid that wouldn’t back down from anything..."

Nelson’s family could not immediately be reached for comment. Information on funeral arrangements was not yet available.
-- From the Lansing State Journal

RIP Pfc. Nelson

MI-03 has a New WatchBlog!

We are pleased to announce Michigan's newest Congressional District WatchBlog, Eyes on Ehlers, covering the 3rd Congressional District of Barry, Ionia, and Kent counties.

EOE is the fifth CD WatchBlog in Michigan. Word on the street has it that folks in the 9th (Knollenberg) and 11th (McCotter) districts are working on unveiling their own watchblogs. We eagerly await their appearance.

Props to ScottyUrb from MichiganLiberal for undertaking Eyes on Ehlers. We wish him and the entire crew of EOE the best. Here's to educating all of Michigan's voters!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Newspaper has great things planned for Rogers

To show you the kind of conservative media bias we have to overcome here in Livingston County to unseat Mike Rogers, take a gander at a Sunday opinion column by Buddy Moorehouse, the metro editor of the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.

Now, Moorehouse has been with the newspaper since the early 1980’s, except for a brief period he left to run for political office in 2002. He is a part-time comedian, magician and apparently a politician. As such, his columns are generally funny and entertaining. This commentary is not a knock at Moorehouse, but it’s simply pointing out a fact.

In 2002 he made a run at the state House for an open seat that was just created because of redistricting. He was one of about six conservative Republicans making a bid for the 47th District seat, and he came in third place for the seat in his first attempt at public office. Surprisingly, Joe Hune won by just two votes to beat some well-known people in the county.

At the time, Moorehouse had to resign as managing editor of the newspaper to make his run, and the management publicly said he would never work there again. Maybe they had their fingers crossed when they said it.

But back to Sunday’s column. The column is called “Sending out wishes of holiday joy,” and in it Moorehouse sends out holiday greetings and good wishes to everyone from his family to our newly elected judges. Nothing wrong with that. However, with the budget crisis facing the governor, it would have been nice for him to send out a greeting and good wishes to her. She could use all the help she can get.

He did have a greeting for his fellow Republican, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers.

“Rep. Mike Rogers, our congressman, who is destined for something much, much bigger. Mark my words.”

To me, U.S. Congress is very, very big. Maybe he can enlighten us on what bigger things the newspaper has planned for Mr. Rogers. This newspaper, with the largest circulation of any newspaper in Livingston County, has had a far too cozy relationship with Rogers since he began his political career. Is it any wonder why Jim Marcinkowski did not get the endorsement of this newspaper?

This is why we have blogs like this.

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from The Neighborhood!

Here's to you and yours, and our best wishes for a wonderful season.

~Your Neighbors at Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

Saturday, December 23, 2006

In Memoriam

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Army Spc. Andrew Daul, 21, of Brighton who died this past Tuesday while serving in Iraq.

From the Livingston Daily Press and Argus:

The fallen soldier's family is remembering him as a heroic, strong, patriotic and brave young man who was into bodybuilding and loved to travel.
Andrew Daul, who was in his second tour of duty in Iraq when he died, was with the 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, based in Friedberg, Germany.
This year's Christmas will be extra somber for those who knew Andrew Daul.
"I don't think there will be much of a Christmas this year," Kathy Daul said. "We'll honor Jesus Christ, we'll go to our midnight mass, but as far as truly getting into the commercial aspect of all of that, that probably very definitely will be put aside and the next couple weeks will be strictly in honor of Andrew."

RIP Spc. Daul

Monday, December 18, 2006

Who does Mike Rogers really work for?

"I work for you. Together, we can continue making a difference, one family, one community at a time." –From Mike Rogers' campaign website

As the representative for Michigan's 8th congressional district, Mike Rogers is supposed to work for you. Trouble is, he also works for quite a few Political Action Committees, to the tune of over $662k during the 2005-2006 campaign cycle, in fact.

So, who were some of the PAC's that Mike Rogers accepted campaign contributions from this year? Well, for starters, he took money from Altria Group (formerly Philip Morris), telecos like AT&T, and war profiteers defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and General Electric, to name a few.

Of course, these days, it's not exactly a shock to learn that corporations from the tobacco, telecom, and defense industries are funding republican camapaigns. Still, when Mike Rogers says he works "for you," it's a little misleading -- his constituents clearly aren't the only people he works for.

A perfect example is the "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act" of 2005. Here's a little background on the Bankruptcy bill [from TPM]:

...the credit card companies are the driving force behind this legislation. Some in the Senate recognize this.

The bill is more than 500 pages long, all in highly technical language. But the overall thrust is pretty clear:

• Make debtors pay more to creditors, both in bankruptcy and after bankruptcy, so that a bankruptcy filing will leave a family with more credit card debt, higher car loans, more owed to their banks and to payday lenders.

• Make it more expensive to file for bankruptcy by driving up lawyers’ fees with new paperwork, new affidavits, and new liability for lawyers, so that the people in the most trouble can’t afford to file.

• Make more hurdles and traps, with deadlines that a judge cannot waive even if someone has a heart attack or an ex-husband who won’t give up a copy of the tax returns, so that more people will get pushed out of bankruptcy with no discharge.

• Make it harder to repay debts in Chapter 13 by increasing the payments necessary to confirm in a repayment plan, so that more people will be pushed out of bankruptcy without ever getting a discharge of debt.

There are people who abuse the system, but this bill lets them off. Millionaires will still be welcome to use the unlimited homestead exemption. And if they don’t want to buy a home there, they can just tuck their millions of dollars into a trust, a “millionaire’s loophole” that lets them keep everything—if they can afford a smart, high-priced lawyer.

As you can see, this piece of legislation wasn't exactly consumer-friendly. And yet, Mike Rogers -- who received $37,398 from commercial banks and $9,324 from finance/credit companies -- voted for the bankruptcy bill.

Consumers in Michigan are starting to feel the pinch:

More than a year after provisions of the Bankruptcy Reform Act took effect in October 2005, debtors are finding it more expensive and time-consuming to file for bankruptcy protection, said John Pottow, U-M Law professor. The act, however, has not solved consumer financial distress.

"Reform, as it was styled, focused on reducing the number of bankruptcies but paid no attention to their cause," said Pottow, a bankruptcy expert. "The data we see suggest the underlying cause is getting worse: a growing number of Americans still cannot pay their debts."

Debts are likely to increase during the holidays. Consumers rely heavily on credit cards to buy gifts, decorations and other related items, then get debt-induced hangovers in January when they go to their mailboxes to find much higher than expected credit card bills.

If debtors consider filing for bankruptcy protection, they can expect higher costs. Pottow said reports suggest attorneys fees have jumped by 50 to 100 percent in response to the complexity of the new law.

Merry Christmas, 8th District!

Here's the problem. It's impossible for us to know with any certainty who/what is truly influencing Mike Rogers' decisionmaking as a legislator, since he's taken so much money -- over $3 million -- from so many different PACs during his career.

Sure, you'd be hard pressed to find a representative from either party in Washington who hasn't taken money from a PAC during their career, but Mike Rogers isn't just any congressman. He's our congressman, and when he says that he works for us, he's clearly not telling the whole story.

Needless to say, we'll be comparing Mike Rogers' voting record during the 110th Congress with his campaign contributions from the 2005-2006 campaign cycle. Stay tuned...

(Cross-posted on Pohlitics, MichiganLiberal, and DailyKos)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Neighborhood Joins the Block Party

Less than 3 weeks into existence, The Neighborhood is honored to join a national list of respected and powerful congressional-watch blogs, at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or The DCCC for you wonky-types.

What's the big deal?

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House. The DCCC is the only political committee in the country whose principal mission is to support Democratic House candidates every step of the way through this critical election year.

The Neighborhood becomes the 48th Blog to make the Congressional Blogroll at The Stakeholder, which is The DCCC's official blog.

'08 Campaigns - Are you listening?

The Internet is the place to reach voters.

The Neighborhood is the place to replace Mr. Rogers.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rogers loves him some Amway/DeVos

I was poking around on Mr. Rogers' website today, when I found this link to his Congressional Record Statements. These two jumped out at me:


Here's the text of that first statement:

Mr . ROGERS of Michigan . Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Alticor Incorporated, on being honored with the 2005 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. This is an honor bestowed to employers who have gone above and beyond in supporting their National Guard and Reserve employees.

Alticor's communication with its military employees when in action, covering pay differential during deployments and their Military Leave Program are just a few of the many ways the company has demonstrated support for the Guard and Reserves. Alticor has also donated numerous products which have been distributed to deployed units worldwide.

I commend Alticor's contribution to military families. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I respectfully ask my colleagues to join me in paying tribute to Alticor Incorporated, for being honored with the 2005 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

And here's the text of the second statement:

Mr . ROGERS of Michigan . Mr. Speaker, I rise to honor the accomplishments of Richard DeVos, a Michigan citizen who exemplifies the American spirit of entrepreneurship and community leadership.

As Richard DeVos celebrates his 80th birthday, we reflect on his many achievements as the co-founder of Amway Corp.
with his lifelong friend and business partner, the late Jay Van Andel, as well as his many selfless contributions to his state, community, and fellow citizens.

The author of three books, ``Believe!,'' ``Compassionate Capitalism,'' and ``Hope From My Heart: Ten Lessons for Life,'' Richard also is a public speaker with an international following. After receiving a heart transplant in 1997, he took on the additional responsibility of serving as chairman for the Speakers Bureau for United Network for Organ Sharing.

Richard has owned several professional sports franchises, including the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association.

Richard and his wife, Helen, support many hospitals, colleges and universities, arts organizations and Christian causes in their hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and also numerous organizations in their adopted community in Central Florida.A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Richard and his wife Helen have raised four children and have 16 grandchildren.

Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in honoring Richard DeVos as, on his 80th birthday, we acknowledge his life-long vision, compassion, and commitment to the American people and his home state of Michigan. Richard DeVos is truly deserving of our respect and admiration.

There's really nothing earth-shattering here, but after Gov. Granholm's recent gubernatorial campaign against former Amway CEO Dick DeVos (where mountains of dirt were dredged up about good-ol Amway), it's interesting to learn that Mike Rogers took the time out of his busy schedule in Washington (he's missed votes at least a few times -- ex: 1, 2, 3, 4) to congratulate Richard DeVos and Alticor on the floor of the US House of Representatives. Furthermore, it's an interesting little coincidence that Mike Rogers has received campaign contributions from seven members of the DeVos family during his career, including... Richard DeVos himself.

I suppose none of this is really surprising, since the DeVos family is one of the biggest contributors to the republican party, but it does make you wonder -- who does Mike Rogers really work for? I sure wish Mike Rogers would enter a happy birthday message to me into the Congressional record.

About Face!

In today's Press & Argus, Mike Rogers has now decided that he supports benchmarks for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Though he's still leery of an actual deadline for troop withdrawal,
A series of positive benchmarks -- with definite time frames for their achievement -- could prod the Iraqi government to improve its performance and the security situation in the country, he said.

Hmmm... Congressional candidate Jim Marcinkowski thought a benchmarked withdrawal was a sound policy approach as far back as April, but Mike Rogers felt that sort of talk was defeatist. How many more U.S. servicemembers need to be killed or wounded before Mike can admit that he was wrong?

NYT columnist Bob Herbert pointed out that Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) voted for the war, and was honest enough to admit that his support had been a mistake:

“I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day. That is absurd. It may even be criminal. I cannot support that anymore.”

If the U.S. is ultimately going to retreat in Iraq, he said, “I would rather do it sooner than later. I am looking for answers, but the current course is unacceptable to this senator.”

Here at home, as U.S. troops and Iraqi citizens continue to die, Rogers is still looking for a "unified position" that everyone can "get behind."

"I think we've got to find a unified position... we will do more to solve the problem if we do it with one voice."

Let's review: 63% of Americans think the war is a mistake. That's a higher percentage than Bush received in 2000, or 2004. In fact, that's a higher percentage than Mike Rogers received last month. Sounds pretty unified to me...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Feature story on Dianne Byrum produces flashback to close 2000 Congressional race

Monday’s edition of the Lansing State Journal carried an excellent feature story on state Rep. Dianne Byrum, the leader of the Democrats in the House. Livingston County residents and residents in the 8th Congressional District certainly remember her from her spirited run at 8th U.S. Congressional seat in 2000 against Mike Rogers. She lost by a mere 111 votes among almost 300,000 votes cast. That’s less than 1 percent. It makes you wonder how much better off we would be now if she had prevailed in the former swing district.

If you wanted to meet Byrum during the campaign it was very easy to do. She was everywhere. The two candidates held something like 10 head-to-head debates all over the 8th District, including one that was televised by a Lansing commercial TV station. It makes you wonder why there were so few opportunities in the last election to hear the two candidates square off. The 8th district produced Sen. Debbie Stabenow, but more importantly it produced some accountability to voters. However, gerrymandering did away with that.

I met Dianne’s mother during the campaign. She was born in Livingston County, but I don’t remember exactly where.

House Minority Leader Dianne Byrum has had plenty of ups and downs in her 16 years as a state lawmaker.
Well, Byrum certainly is leaving on a high note, after leading a remarkable turnaround that puts the Michigan House under Democratic control for the first time since 1998.
And better still for her: She will turn her House seat over to her daughter, Barb, who was elected to the seat in November.
"I always believed we would elect a Democratic speaker. I thought it would take two years longer," Byrum said in an interview last week in her Capitol office. "The goal was always '08, and I set forth to build the caucus brick by brick."
And she etched her place as the savvy and disciplined leader who recruited candidates, raised money and designed the political strategy for House Democrats.

Having gone door-to-door for a successful House candidate in the last election, I can tell you the themes and issues she hammered home in the months leading up to the election really resonated with the voters.

Byrum's political star seemed to be ascending until 2000, when she ran for Congress against fellow state Sen. Mike Rogers, a rising Republican from Brighton.
The Republicans controlled the Senate, and bills sponsored by Rogers sailed through the Legislature while All Things Byrum stopped dead in their tracks.
"They were so nasty to me. I even got oinked at - like a pig - on the floor of the Senate," Byrum said "I felt like I was in a 'Star Wars' movie, and I had these bolts of lightning thrown at me constantly."
When the final votes were counted, and recounted, Byrum lost by 111 votes.

That was the last contested federal race at the time with the recount lasting almost to Christmas, and that was when Bush won the presidency in the U.S. Supreme Court. Targeting someone by refusing to even consider any law, resolution or motion made by the target is still a favorite tactic of Republicans, but thankfully that will go away, at least in the House. They did the same thing to Rep. Kathy Angerer, but voters were smarter than that. Rogers anti-student bill in 1999 that required citizens to vote in the district listed on their drivers' license was the deciding factor in the 2000 race. I’m sure that if Michigan State University students who lived in East Lansing would have been allowed to vote where they lived it would have accounted for well more than 111 votes.

Byrum isn't ready to announce what she'll do when her legislative term expires this month. Besides helping run the hardware stores, she says she expects to work in the private sector while remaining involved in public policy.
"I tell people I'm going to be a community activist and a term-limited legislator acting badly," she said, "because I can say anything I want to and not have to worry about what it's going to look like in print."

I know it’s not the same 8th Congressional District, but I would love to see a Rogers- Byrum rematch in 2008.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

Cross-posted on MichiganLiberal and DailyKos.

This morning Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was featured in the Livingston Daily Press & Argus, on the front page and above the fold, no less! Many thanks to Dan Meisler for featuring our humble young blog so prominently today, and on behalf of all our contributors, I would like to welcome all the new readers.

In Meisler's article, Livingston County Republican Party Chairman Allan Filip had this to say about political blogs:

"To really play a large role, a lot of these things are going to have to become less venomous," he said.

Generally speaking, Filip said, political blogs play to the extreme fringes of their particular parties.

"I don't think necessarily it's anything that's changing people's hearts and minds," he said.
Mr. Filip is certainly entitled to his opinion, but the people of the neighborhood are by no means looking to be "venomous" towards Mike Rogers – our goal is to simply inform constituents living in the 8th Congressional district about his record. If Chairman Filip feels we won't be "changing people's hearts and minds," then he has nothing to worry about.

We're simply here to eductate the people of "the neighborhood," and look forward to tracking Mike Rogers' service in Washington during the 110th Congress.

The People of The Neighborhood

What's so special about Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood?

We're an incredible part of Michigan who has the misfortune to be represented by a man who supports those interests which work against us, whether it be in our jobs, our health care, our own civil rights, and our sons and daughters serving the country. Even more disgraceful, he gets paid a whopping $165,200 a year to do so.

Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood looks much like your neighborhood. We are people from all over the 8th District, from Oakland County to Shiawassee County, to Lansing to Howell, and everywhere in between.

We are men and women, from the newly employed to the retired.

We're military veterans, homemakers, blue-collar workers, college kids, policy wonks, and everything else.

We want the same things you want, to have our government work for us the way it should - for the people and by the people.

We don't all agree on the same issues, but we do agree that no matter where we stand, Mike Rogers stands against us.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Where He Stands: Military

Mike Rogers often talks about his support for the troops, but a look at his voting record shows that talk is about all they are getting from him.

Here are just a few of Rogers’ votes on military health care, at a time when U.S. troops are returning home with increasingly serious and complex injuries:

-- No to $13.5 billion over 5 years for the VA (HCR 95, Vote #149, 4/28/05)

-- No to a $53 million boost to veterans’ health care and benefits, including funding for medical and prosthetic research, combat-related trauma care, and support for spouses and children of service members who died during the War on Terror (HCR 2528, Vote #224, 5/26/05)

-- No to extending TRICARE health care benefits to National Guard and Reserve members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their families (HR 1815, Vote #221, 5/25/05)

-- No to full retirement and disability benefits for veterans (HR 1588, Vote #616, 11/7/03)

The Disabled American Veterans rated Rogers a zero in 2004 and 2005. The The Retired Enlisted Association rated him 33% in 2004.

Speaking of a 'budget mess' ...

Speaking of a budget mess ... maybe part of the problem with the budget is that guys like Mike Rogers are proud of wasting money.

Mike Rogers has proudly announced the passage of a "server efficiency bill."

"Rogers' bill directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to identify the potential energy and cost savings to the federal government and private business with the purchase of energy efficient servers and includes a sense of Congress that it is in the best interests of the United States for purchasers of computer servers to give high priority to energy efficiency."

Um … why?

Don't we already know that the purchase of energy efficient servers is going to save money? Why pass a bill (which costs money) to do a study (which costs money) to see how much money can be saved by purchasing energy efficient servers?

We already know that energy efficient servers are desirable. So desirable, in fact, that IBM,HP,and Dell compete on the energy efficiency of their servers. Why did Rogers jump on this bandwagon? Is this his way of helping out an industry friend? The company with the highest energy efficiency gets the contracts?

(By the way, has anyone here heard of that pesky little war on terror? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's in the best interest of the US for purchasers of servers to also give high priority to security, stability, and performance.)

It’s interesting that Rogers framed this bill as an environmental issue. He has a low ranking on environmental issues, even among Republicans, and he failed as Michigan’s self appointed champion on trash. Maybe this bill will help increase his standing on environmental issues.

So after 6 years in Congress, maybe Rogers has done one smart thing.

Mike Rogers is going to miss those good old days.

The 107th, 108th, and 109th Congress were good times for Michigan congressman Mike Rogers (Mike R). Mike R was a player in the Culture Club, he could get some bills through for his constituency (Energy, Mining, Pharma, Health Care, Food) thanks to his majority party caucus. Now that the Democrats will control the agenda in the 110th Congress, things are going to change and I’m sure Mr. Rogers will miss “the good old days”.

Culture of Corruption:
Former congressman Tom Delay had his K-Street Project in place, the Democrats were “irrelevant” to Delay, and Mike R was part of it:

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), Blunt's deputy whip, said he meets regularly with the lobbying community and, as different bills come up, "we go over lists to see who knows this member, how can we get that person feeling more comfortable, can we get him more information." These drives are conducted "on bills that are big -- tax, energy, bankruptcy, class action, tort reform. The whole world swoops in," Rogers said. For each bill, a steering committee is created that "hands out assignments, coordinates activities."

Trading votes for cash is not new in politics, but in the last three years the confluence of Leadership PACs and lobbyists hit a new plateau. One lobbyist was quoted in a PAC management software program as a testimonial:

"I use the Pontecchio Bridges system to administer more than thirty campaign PAC's for our clients. It does everything I need and yet it really is the service and support we get from the Pontecchio staff that sets them apart from other vendors I have worked with. We're quite pleased." Barbara W. Bonfiglio - Williams & Jensen”.
Mark Valente a Republican fundraiser and lobbyist was treasurer for up to 15 Republican Leadership PACs including the MIKE R fund. As a result of ties to “Culture Club” leaders like Tom Delay, and Jack Abramoff, the era of lobbyist as PAC Treasurer has diminished dramatically. Mark Valente stepped down in July and was replaced by Robert Carlin as treasurer. Barbara Bonfiglio stepped down as a principle for Williams & Jensen, and is out of the PAC business altogether.

Between Barbara Bonfiglio and Mark Valente, it appears a lot of money passed between the Leadership PACs they represented. Getting that “mojo” back again will be more difficult.

Congressional Performance:
Submitting statements called "Extensions of Remarks" for inclusion in Congressional Record like this one submitted June 8th probably won't go unnoticed like they used to:
“Mr. Speaker, on the legislative day of May 19, 2006 the House voted on a procedural motion to H.R. 5385, the Fiscal 2007 Military Construction-VA Appropriations Act. On House rollcall vote No. 173, I was unavoidably detained. Had I been present, I would have voted ``aye.''

Bills like the “National Uniformity for Food Act”, won’t get out of committee without substantial changes.

Mike R has developed through his votes quite a record. It will be interesting to compare his previous votes and positions with his statements in the next two years. The word “flip-flop” comes to mind. Mr. Rogers positions are evolving and the new congress hasn’t convened yet.

Looking Forward:
On the bright side for Mike R, a number of things are still in place:

But we will be watching Mike R, and that’s a good thing.

There are only 695 days until the next General Election.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

109th congress passes budget mess onto the dems

The buck stops where? From CNN:

Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, gaveled the House to a close for the last time about 3:15 a.m.; the Senate limped to a close about 4:40 a.m.

But Republicans dumped an unfinished budget on the Democrats about to take power, with the Senate barely meeting a midnight deadline to pass a stopgap spending bill putting the government on autopilot until February 15.

The failure to pass budget bills for domestic agencies, said Rep. David Obey, D-Wisconsin, amounted to "a blatant admission of abject failure by the most useless Congress in modern times."

The House, also working late into the night, acted first, easily passing the tax and Medicare provisions -- along with a plan to open 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling. The vote was 367-45. It passed the trade legislation by a narrower 212-184...

All told, the tax cuts would cost $38 billion over five years.

For the record, Mike Rogers voted yes on these tax breaks (see Vote 533: H R 6111, Vote 536: H RES 1100, and Vote 530: H RES 1099.) As usual, Mike Rogers is perfectly content to pass the buck onto someone else:

On the rest of the budget, work remained unfinished on nine of 11 spending bills, requiring the stopgap funding bill to put 13 Cabinet departments on autopilot through February 15 frozen at or slightly below current levels.

Democrats now face difficult choices and weeks of work on the leftover budget, which totals $463 billion and must be passed at Bush's strict budget limits.

"They are leaving us with a tremendous mess," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told reporters. "We have alternatives, none of which are very good."

Yep, Mike Rogers and the do-nothing 109th Congress left town without finishing work on nine of 11 spending bills. Now, following this vote, we have 13 Cabinet departments on autopilot through February 15. The democrats who will lead the 110th Congress are inheriting a giant fiscal mess, thanks to the failed leadership of republican representatives like Mike Rogers.

Thanks for everything nothing, 109th!

Friday, December 8, 2006

Where He Stands - Education

Mr. Rogers says he's in touch with us, the people of The Neighborhood. If there's one thing we've learned in politics, we know that politicians say one thing and often do something completely different.

Education - You can't get anywhere without a good degree.

Despite being the son of a former teacher, Mike Rogers has very little to say about education.

In fact, between his Congressional website and his campaign website, Mr. Rogers barely mentions education or any of his efforts to support education at all. No wonder he was given the following ratings by these national educational interest groups:

Between 2001 and 2005, Mr. Rogers was given a 27.4% average score from the National Education Association.
(Compared to Republican Representative Dave Camp (MI-04) with 100% for 2005)

In 2005, Mr. Rogers earned a 12% score* from the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
(Compared to Democrat Representative John Dingell (MI-15) with 88%)
*Incidentally, Mr. Rogers tied for lowest score of the entire Michigan Congressional Delegation with Republican Rep. Thad McCotter (MI-11)

Did you know that The Neighborhood has several universities and colleges all supposedly represented by Mr. Rogers?

Or better yet, does he know that?

Where Mr. Rogers Stands

The U.S. Government - crafted on the premise that it is for the People, and by the People.

To those of us in The Neighborhood, we believe that implies that a certain amount of transparency should lie inherent within it.

Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

Because the ultimate goal of The Neighborhood is to educate the good people of the 8th District, we will be continually revealing (through facts and public record) to you where Mike Rogers really stands on the issues. The first in this segment was several days ago, and we're going to do our part to make this a regular feature of this website. As always, we appreciate your feedback and if you know of anything that Mr. Rogers has said or done that you think The Neighborhood should know about feel free to contact us at the information provided on the top right of this page.

Bill on notice of pain to fetuses fails in the House

From the International Herald Tribune, via Talk Left:

In the House, Republican leaders gave its anti-abortion base one final shot at abortion legislation before Democrats take over control of the agenda.

The House rejected a proposal that would have required abortion providers to inform women at least 20 weeks pregnant that abortions cause pain to the fetus. The vote was 250-162, short of the two-thirds majority needed under a procedure that limited debate.

The bill defined a 20-week-old fetus as a "pain-capable unborn child." That's a controversial threshold among scientists, who don't agree on whether a fetus at that stage of development feels pain or reflectively draws back from stimuli. Abortion has been legal in the United States since a 1973 Supreme Court ruling.

Mike Rogers, who consistently gets perfect marks from the National Right to Life committee, voted yes on this bill.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Rogers on the Iraq Study Group

From the LSJ:

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers hopes the Iraq study group’s recommendation for a gradual withdrawal from Iraq will serve as a catalyst to unify the U.S. on the issue.

“That’s one of the things that has been hurting us overseas,”
the Republican congressman from Brighton said today.

Rogers said he hadn’t had time to read the entire 200-page report but had looked at the executive summary. He applauded the recommendation to begin dialogues with Iran and Syria, and said a gradual pullout made sense.

“An immediate withdrawal would absolutely cause chaos in the entire region,” he said.

Mike thinks our country's disunity on the Iraq war has "been hurting us oversees," yet he's been feeding into that same atmosphere of disunity from the get-go.

Hey Mr. Rogers, do you remember this?

But Rogers hasn't been completely above the political fray — in June on the floor of the House, he said that politicians calling for a withdrawal from Iraq share an agenda with the terrorist insurgents there. He said his comments were in reaction to statements by Democratic lawmakers, which Rogers characterized as "defeatism."

So, the 57% of the American public that wants a date for withdrawal from Iraq share an agenda with the terrorist insurgents? We're defeatists? Gee, that kind of talk doesn't sound like something you would expect to hear from a high-minded congressman like Mike Rogers. If our lack of unity on the war is hurting us overseas, as Mr. Rogers says, then isn't he at least partially to blame for fostering this climate of disunity?

But hey, like Mike says, you win some, you lose some:

"Like any armed conflict, some things go your way, and some don't."

Things haven't been going our way for a long time, Mike -- Michigan lost another soldier in Iraq this week, which makes him the 112th member of the armed forces with Michigan ties to lose their life in Iraq.

Mr. Rogers, if the president enacts every single proposal from the Iraq Study Group, when can we expect things to start going our way? Will you hold him accountable, sir?

Press begins to take notice of newest political blog

Despite the blog being up only a few days, more than 50 people a day are visiting the blog. The hits are not only from all over the 8th District but from all over the county, such as Washington, D.C, Los Angles and Chicago.

We have already gained some notice. In the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus a three-paragraph brief appeared today announcing our presence. I also expect to see a story coming soon from the P & A featuring the person who started the blog, Liberal Lucy from Liberal, Loud and Proud.

The newspaper’s political reporter, Dan Meisler, has a track record of writing interesting stories on trends and how changes in getting a candidate’s message out are changing political campaigns. He wrote some stories on how some local blogs changed the way campaigns were conducted in the last election cycle. I look forward to reading the story when it is published.

We also look forward to input from readers and our fellow progressive bloggers in the form of comments, and if you see something we may have missed on Mr. Rogers please feel free to bring it to our attention.

Do you know Mr. Rogers?

The best voters are educated voters...or so the saying goes.

Do you know Mike Rogers? Or have you just seen his Campaign Ads and read the material that's been sent to your house?

Mr. Rogers isn't the most friendly of guys. In fact, his Congressional ranking by various interest groups has been less than favorable.

On a scale where 0 is the least favorable rating and 100 is the most favorable here's how Mr. Rogers has been ranked (2005-2006)....

Republicans for Environmental Protection - 8
(Arizona Congressman John McCain(R) - 68)

U.S. Public Interest Research Group - 5
(Michigan Congressman Vern Ehlers (R) -45)

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America - C
(Where A+ is the highest and F is the lowest)
(Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) received a A-)

Mr. Rogers - not the most friendliest of neighbors.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Rogers a potential Levin challenger?

Hey, if it's in the NYT, it must be fit to print. But don't get your hopes up too much:

Levin’s popularity and Michigan’s Democratic lean — Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Sen. Debbie Stabenow were easily re-elected last month — make him a formidable opponent. Already the longest-serving senator in Michigan history, Levin has dominated recent elections and won a fifth term in 2002 with 61
percent of the vote.

Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and state Attorney General Mike Cox have been mentioned as potential Senate candidates.

Paul Abramson, a political scientist at Michigan State University, said the most logical GOP opponent would be Rogers, who was first elected to his Lansing-centered 8th District in 2000.

“Rogers has an extremely safe House seat and the question is whether he’d be willing to put that at risk to take an outside chance of winning,” Abramson told

But, Abramson added, outside of health concerns, “I think some real fates would have to intervene before [Levin] would be the underdog in the election.”

Michigan Republicans, meanwhile, argued that the timing of Levin’s announcement indicated he was concerned about winning re-election.

“A re-election announcement this early, before most people have closed their books on the last campaign, signals loud and clear to Michigan Republicans that this seat will be in play in 2008 and we are ready for the challenge,” state GOP chairman Saul Anuzis said in a statement.

This seat will "be in play"? See, this is why I'm so happy that the MI-GOP kept Saul Anuzis around after his disastrous performance as party chairman this year. The guy couldn't beat Debbie Stabenow after her first term -- when a Senator is usually at their weakest -- and he thinks he can beat Carl Levin, the longest-serving Senator in Michigan's history? Puh-lease.

Who's Saul gonna find to run? I mean, I happen to think that Mike Rogers is an arrogant jerk, but he's not a complete idiot. Carl Levin has been in the US Senate since 1979, he's one of America's ten best senators, and it'll be even more difficult to unseat him during a presidential election year, since Michigan's electoral votes haven't gone to a republican since 1988. I'll be shocked if that trend changes in 2008.

Don't get me wrong, I would love it if Mike Rogers ran for the Senate in two years... it would open up his seat in the 8th district, and give dems their best shot at taking it back since Mike replaced Debbie in 2001. But again, I just don't think it's in the cards. As for Cox and Land, I think they're both eyeing runs for governor in 2010, so my guess is that they will sit this race out as well. Who else does that leave? My bet is for another token republican candidate to take the fall against Levin like Raczkowski did in 2002, which means we still need to beat Rogers in the 8th.

Back to work...

Hello, Mr. Rogers (and friends!)

Not even 24 hours into existence, and word on the street has it that Mr. Rogers and friends from D.C. have already stopped by The Neighborhood for a visit!


We're glad you're here.

We're looking forward to all that you'll be doing. We'll be watching and waiting and there with you every step of the way!

Congratulations again, Mr. Rogers, we know we're in for an interesting two years!

~Your Loving Constituents of The Neighborhood

Neighborhood Meeting on Wednesday!

Thanks to Butch Snider over at MichiganLiberal, we've been informed there's a Neighborhood Meeting via the Mid-Michigan Democracy for America chapter tomorrow,
Wednesday night at 7pm at
SEIU Local
1026 E. Michigan Avenue, Lansing 48933
Call for Info - 517-482-1737

Who will be there?

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Mike Rogers (MI-08) won reelection on November 7th, 2006 in his closest race since being narrowly elected in 2000.

He got lucky.

Mike's luck has run out, and the people are ready to make sure these next two years are his last in Congress.

This is where the change begins.

(Mr. Rogers poses before a 'cavity search' in Brighton)

The Offender

We wish our Mr. Rogers wore a yellow sweater, spoke kindly and always practiced the Golden Rule.

But he doesn't.

Our Mr. Rogers carries a big stick, discriminates against his very constituents, and preaches hate and war.

We want a change.

The People
Combining the talents of the Fighting 8th's finest writers and politicos, the people of The Neighborhood are coming together, and will hold Mike accountable for all of his failures to his district. We deserve better.

Less than 2 years till Mike's out and our representative, the People's representative, starts working for us.

Will you join the fight?

Letter to The People

Unlike most of the state and country on Election Day, those of us in the 8th Congressional District sat down and had a bit of a cry.

We were sentenced to two more years of uber-conservative tyranny by Mike Rogers. The forecast called for a discriminating and foreboding time, accompanied by votes bought and paid for by the most corrupt of special interests. It was a moment of shameful defeat.

Today the tide has changed and the forecast looks a bit more optimistic.

In fact, today is truly A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
Today marks the day when the good people of Michigan's 8th Congressional District start to take it back. Today we pull off our warm fuzzy yellow sweaters, set down our mugs of cocoa, and roll up our sleeves. Today we take back the Neighborhood.

Thanks in part to bloggers, readers, and lurkers of this and other progressive Michigan blogs, and inspired by creators and contributors of the Walberg Watch, we've formed our own Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

We're going to be

  • Watching his every move
  • Recording each vote
  • Tracking every dollar as it greases his palms and lands in the '08 War Chest.
In reality, we're going to ensure that Mike Rogers makes these next two years really count, because it's our goal to make sure it's his final two years in Congress.

Just like every good Michigan neighborhood, everyone's welcome, everyone's represented, and everyone's appreciated. We hope you'll stop by The Neighborhood, say hello to some familiar faces, meet some new ones, and most of all, get educated. This is much more than just a block party, it's the Town Hall for everyone in the 8th to gather together and work for what we believe in, making sure that our representatives are working for us.

The foundation's been laid, the walls are going up, and folks are starting to move in. Be sure to drop in often as we work harder than any congressional district has ever worked. Just because we're Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood now, doesn't mean we have to stay his neighborhood forever.

So, let's make the most of this beautiful day.
Since we're together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?
Won't you please,
Won't you please?
Please won't you be my neighbor?

(courtesy of the real Mr. Rogers')