Tuesday, March 27, 2007

After white-hot publicity over vandalism it disappears for catching the vandals

A week after U. S. Rep. Mike Rogers Lansing District office was vandalized, at least one newspaper finally got around to publishing the photo from the security camera of the alleged vandal.

You may recall, the vandalism on March 18-19 saw the door locks glued shut, the building was spray-painted, a "Support Our Troops" sign attached to the front of the building was splattered with blood-red paint and a hand-painted sign was also plastered to an entryway window that said “Rogers There is Blood on Your Hands.” The news was quickly picked up by just about every newspaper in the state, on TV news and even in some national publications.

It didn’t take long for the Rogers people to make political hay with it to condemn the alleged “violent peace protestors,” and Rogers’ family even received extra protection by the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department. The photo was released four days ago. But to date - at least that I am aware of – only the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus published a photo of the suspect. It seems inconceivable to me with all the attention and heat from this incident that there is now very little publicity generated to actually catch the vandal. The Lansing Police Department believes at least two people are involved.

Sylvia Warner, a spokeswoman for the Republican lawmaker's office, said the vandalism appeared to be related to the Iraq war, and is the "worst" the office has experienced.
Rogers' Lansing office has been the target of vandals a number of times, Warner said.

Really? How many times? Warner is a former journalist, and most journalists will at least estimate the number of times to give readers an idea of the amount of activity, using terms like “more than two,” “less than 1,” or “at least twice,” etc.

The aggressive destruction of federal property and vandalism was a callous attempt to intimidate Congressman Rogers and his staff," Rogers' chief of staff, Andy Keiser, said at the time.
Rogers said the aggressiveness of the attack was most disturbing, and that similar attacks are popping up across the country.
Rogers also feared for his family's safety, especially that of his children.
"I really want them to worry about their math homework, not some war protester doing harm to them or their property," he said.

That is perhaps the most absurd statement from the Rogers camp among many about this regrettable incident. There seems to be a lot of indigent outrage and exaggeration from the Rogers camp, but there doesn’t seem to be much effort to catch this person.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Investigator James Thornburg at (517) 483-4611.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Rogers votes against Iraq exit deadline

Well, it's official.

Mike Rogers voted against HR 1591 today, a spending bill with an Iraq exit deadline.

The House of Representatives on Friday voted 218-212 to approve a spending bill that includes a firm deadline -- August 31, 2008 -- for combat troops to leave Iraq.

A solid majority of Americans – six in ten – now favor a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of 2008.

Once again, Mike Rogers has chosen to support George Bush's disastrous war. A war that Rep. Rogers' campaign financiers have profited handsomely from. Apparently loyalty to Bush, and the corporate PACs that helped put him in office, is more important than the will of the people.

Our men and women in uniform, and 8th district voters, deserve better.

The RogersToon #2

Here were go with the second-ever installment of the RogersToon, a weekly feature wherein I'll slog through Rep. Rogers' personal Neighborhood of Make-Believe and find something to draw a cartoon about. The vandalism of Rogers' Lansing office this week provided just the sort of metaphor political cartoonists crave. So, without further ado, here's this week's offering (click to embiggen):

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Right Way to Protest Rogers & The War in Iraq

Vandalism is wrong, illegal, and ultimately counterproductive. It's the wrong way to protest something.

Here's the right way:

"What do we want? Justice!" many cried.

They marched down Michigan Avenue -- taking up two lanes -- all the way to Lansing and the district office of U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Brighton) with some demands.

"We the students, youth and community members of the greater Lansing area of Michigan declare our opposition to the war on Iraq," one student leader said.

The students say they want military recruiters out of high school classrooms. They're asking Rogers to put an end to the war and bring troops home. And they say the money spent on the war could be better spent fixing domestic problems.

"Congressman Rogers can make this happen now," a student leader said.

The group, roughly 100 in number, then marched back toward East Lansing along Michigan Avenue to join with a larger protest.

"We're here to stay stop the war; bring the troops home now," protester Maragret Kingsbury said.
Organizers estimate that at its peak, close to 400 were there.

"There's a realization that people are fed up and turning out where they weren't before," Harrow said.

Police say both protests were peaceful and no one was arrested.
This is the right way to protest Rep. Mike Rogers' moronic support for George Bush's war in Iraq. Let's hope he gets the message.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


While I stand second to none in my dislike for Mike Rogers' opportunistic finger-in-the-wind style of politics (not to mention his luuurve of corporate cash), I sincerely I hope the band of idiots who vandalized his office in Lansing are arrested and prosecuted.

What were they thinking? Anyone with half a brain knows that such a stunt would result in sympathy for Rogers (rightly so, in this case) and a backlash against anti-war protesters. No surprises in the media coverage: Rep. Rogers' Lansing Office Vandalized, Anti-war vandals hit congressman's office, Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers' Office Vandalized Over Iraq War, you get the idea. It's not just illegal, IT'S STUPID.

Gee, maybe one of the Einsteins who did this will post and let us in on the thought processes -- or lack thereof -- that led them to link property damage to a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Mr. Grin Keeps on Grinning

After taking an incomprehensible stance on the Iraq War Resolution in the House of Representatives, Congressman Mike Rogers (aka Mr. Grin) voted with the Bush Republicans and then introduced his own proposal. You can read it here. It has gone absolutely nowhere in the House of Representatives. He had to know it would go nowhere. He is, afterall, a veteran Congressman. So you have to ask the question: what was the point?

Now he can't be bothered with the needs of Michigan farmers.

St. Johns dairy farmer Kerry Nobis wants to be able to hire foreign workers year-round to help with his 800 cows.

During a visit to Washington with other representatives of the Michigan Farm Bureau, Nobis argued that the country's foreign-worker program should be more flexible.

But he said the argument didn't seem to have much impact.

His congressman, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, "believes that in the interest of national security, our first priority has to be a secure border and once that is achieved, we can work to address unique situations like the dairy producers," spokeswoman Sylvia Warner said.
Nobis, 36, was skeptical. "We can't wait around forever while they secure the border," he said.

Over five years after 9/11, Mr. Grin would rather keep people out who want to come to our country to work, to the detriment of our state's farmers, while still not providing a plan for a "secure border." Again, makes you wonder what he's actually doing.

As was noted yesterday, Mr. Grin would like to see the FBI's alleged abuses of the Patriot Act be investigated, but is still foggy about Alberto Gonzales's far-less-than-stellar job performance as Attorney General.

Rogers, typically a strong supporter of the Bush administration, also said that the recent controversy over U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the firing of several U.S. attorneys was not handled well. The administration has denied accusations that the attorneys were let go for political reasons.

"It was generally not well-done," Rogers said, but he refused to join a handful of Republicans who have called for Gonzales to resign. He said he'd rather let the situation play itself out.

Ah, the Wait-and-See Approach. This is rather surprising from a former FBI agent, someone who investigated suspected wrongdoing and gathered evidence so that U.S. attorneys could use such evidence against alleged criminals. You'd think he'd be a lot more concerned over the cheap politicization of hiring and firing federal prosecutors.

Well, now that more incriminating e-mails are being released, the public is finding out more about what was going on behind the U.S. attorney firings, like this:

At one point, McNulty questioned the dismissal of U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden in Nevada. "I'm a little skittish about Bogden," McNulty wrote in a Dec. 7 e-mail to Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, two days before the firings. "He has been with DOJ since 1990 and, at age 50, has never had a job outside government."

Still, McNulty concluded: "I'll admit have not looked at his district's performance. Sorry to be raising this again/now; it was just on my mind last night and this morning."

It looks more like this was not simply "generally not well-done." I was outright despicable. The most egregious has to be Carol Lam's firing.

In an E-mail from Kyle Sampson, then the chief of staff to the attorney general, to White House deputy counsel William Kelley on May 11, 2006, Sampson cryptically referred to "the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires."

The day before, Lam had contacted the Justice Department to inform it of search warrants issued for Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who had just resigned as No. 3 official at the CIA and was eventually indicted in connection with a bribery scandal that put former Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham behind bars. Two days later, the FBI raided Foggo's home and former office.

As the clear evidence of gross incompetence and negligence piles up, Democrats and even some Republicans are calling for Gonzales' resignation. But based on what we've seen of our Congressman Mr. Grin, residents of Michigan's 8th Congressional District can expect little more than his grin.

[cross-posted on Honest Errors]

Monday, March 19, 2007

Rogers support of troops is lacking

As candlelight vigils all over the country today mark the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and honor the more than 3,200 U.S. Servicemen and Women who have been killed and the estimated 100,000 that have been wounded in that occupation it’s interesting to look at the support those wounded and returning veterans are getting from their government when they return from the battlefield and other areas.

The nonpartisan Project Vote Smart has put together the grading criteria for Washington politicians of some veterans organizations that provide support to and a voice for veterans. We hear a lot from Republicans about how they support the troops and Democrats do not, but for most of the Republicans that means little more than waving a flag, putting a bumper sticker on their car and tying a ribbon around a tree.

According to the Disabled American Veterans of America that represents all of America's 2.1 million disabled veterans, their families and survivors, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers received a 66 percent on DAV’s issues, compared to 100 for Sen. Debbie Stabenow and 80 percent for Sen. Carl Levin. Michigan’s Democratic Senators have done more than just talk the talk like Rogers and others like him, but they have walked the walk. The good news is the attempt by Rogers to distance himself from Bush and his first contested race since he was elected to Congress in 2000 improved Rogers’ rating from 0 in 2005 and 2004.

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave Rogers a grade of C, but unfortunately, they did not give him a rating last year. The mission of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is to ensure the enactment of policies that properly provide for our troops and veterans. A mission Rogers only gives lip service to. In sharp contrast to Rogers’s lack of real support for the troops are the A- earned by Stabenow and the B+ earned by Levin.

Supporting the troops means a whole lot more than waving a flag and saying you “support the troops.” For a look at more veteran's ratings check out Project Vote Smart.

PAC Man: Mike Rogers funded by Iraq War Profiteers

On the 4th Anniversary of the Iraq War, I thought it would be prudent to take a look at some of the corporations that have profited from the conflict. Surprise – Surprise! Quite a few Iraq War Profiteers have been bankrolling Mike Rogers' political campaigns for years through corporate PAC contributions.

Here's the wall of shame:The grand total comes to a cool $41,500.

Of course, war profiteering is nothing new. However...

in eras past, courageous leaders like Harry Truman opened up investigations into this kind of profiteering, today, lawmakers go out of their way to actually prevent scrutiny. Remember, it was the Senate last year that voted down legislation to create stiffer penalties for war profiteers, and it was Vice President Cheney who went to the Senate floor to curse off the bill's sponsors for having the nerve to even raise the issue.

When will it end? When lawmakers of both parties start putting America's national security concerns over the concerns of their defense industry campaign donors. In an era where every politician wants to be "pro-national security" - allowing defense industry profiteering is exactly the opposite. It drains resources away from the programs that actually protect our troops but have been underfunded, and it undermines a more effective 21st century defense policy that would better protect America.

Like virtually everyone in America, Mike Rogers says he supports the troops:

America’s military men and women who sacrificed so much must know that the new way forward in Iraq is a plan in which the military mission and the rules of engagement are clearly defined, and specific benchmarks are outlined for Iraqis to take over so our troops can come home.

Yet, when Mike Rogers got the chance to vote on the Iraq resolution opposing George Bush's vaguely-defined and ill-conceived troop escalation last February, he ultimately voted to support sending 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.

With at least 58% of Americans favoring withdrawal from Iraq immediately or within a year, it's not hard to see how painfully out of touch Mike Rogers is with the rest of the country, and his constituents in the 8th district.

Could it be that Mike Rogers ultimately puts the needs of his defense industry campaign donors ahead of our men and women in uniform? That's a question that only Rogers can answer, but based on his unwavering support for the War in Iraq after four years of bloodshed, I think his record speaks for itself.

Conscience Part II: Time Is On Mike's Side

Ah, time. It’s such a magical thing. For example, it can turn a schleppy caterpillar into a lovely butterfly, or a tiny acorn into a majestic oak tree. It can also morph Mike Rogers from a hardline, no-questions-asked supporter of the USA Patriot Act (in 2001 AND 2005) into a civil-liberties-aware, Constitutional watchdog who is calling for an investigation into FBI tactics.

After reading Communications Guru’s thoughtful Sunday post on this topic, in which Mr. Rogers expressed his concern that “there may have been some abuses” in domestic intelligence gathering, I figured it would be fun to review some of Mr. Rogers' previous comments on the subject.

The retrospectoscope is all polished up -- let's go!

Mike Rogers has happily touted (or flaunted, pick a verb) his law enforcement expertise, particularly during the creation of the Patriot Act. From Rogers' own website:
In Congress, in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mike’s expertise was sought out during development of the USA PATRIOT Act, which gives law enforcement the tools necessary for tracking terrorists with today’s technology. Mike’s expertise proved invaluable in understanding how wiretaps are obtained and used, the complex checks and balances that prevent abuse of wire taps, and why the rules based on 1970s technology were no longer applicable in the day of cell phones and the Internet.

From a NewsHour interview, when asked his opinion on renewing the Patriot Act:

REP. MIKE ROGERS: We are at war. This bill helps protect America and does not suspend the Constitution of the United States.

From USA Today, when questioned about potential infringement of civil liberties:

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., a former FBI agent, dismissed the worries about civil liberties as "ridiculous" because "we are at war." He recalled using such tools in gang and child molestation investigations.

"All we do in the Patriot Act is say, 'Look, if we can go after child molesters sitting in the library and bombers who we need to sneak-and-peek on a warrant, we ought to be able to go after terrorists,'" he said.

Personally, I’m getting a little tired of the local papers giving Mr. Rogers a pass when he flip-flops this spectacularly.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Being in the minority helps Rogers develop a conscience

Mike Rogers has finally gained a conscience and gained the desire to try and place a check on the Bush Administration’s roll back of civil liberties, actually do some oversight and conduct an investigation of some of this administration’s wrong-doing. What’s the reason for the conversion of Bush’s biggest cheerleader? Simple. He’s in the minority.

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus –long a supporter of Rogers - reports:
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, has been a strong supporter of the Patriot Act. However, he said a lack of clear guidelines may make it too easy for unwarranted views into private personal and business records.
Rogers said a congressional committee he sits on should look into possible FBI mismanagement of domestic intelligence-gathering methods. Rogers, a fourth-term representative, is a former FBI agent.
A recent U.S. Department of Justice report found weak internal control over "national security letters," a tool created by the Patriot Act in 2001 to ease the collection of information — like business and phone records — in national-security investigations.

Is this a new thing? Of course not, but since the committee is now controlled by Democrats there will finally be some oversight and accountability for a change. Where was Rogers for the last six years?

Although we know Rogers had no choice on what the committee looks at because he is a minority member, we can rest assured there will be no tough questions from him. Rogers remains a Bush cheerleader, although not quite as vocal, and we just need to take a look at his stance on U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Despite other Republicans asking for his resignation over the firings of Bush appointees who refused to illegally target Bush enemies, the controversy over renewal of the Patriot Act and a report last week that the FBI had underreported its use of national security letters to snoop on Americans, Rogers said Gonzales should stay.

Rogers, typically a strong supporter of the Bush administration, also said that the recent controversy over U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the firing of several U.S. attorneys was not handled well. The administration has denied accusations that the attorneys were let go for political reasons.
"It was generally not well-done," Rogers said, but he refused to join a handful of Republicans who have called for Gonzales to resign. He said he'd rather let the situation play itself out.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The RogersToon #1

Greetings, all. I'm Mike Ramsey, a student at Michigan State University and the editorial cartoonist for The State News, MSU's independent student newspaper. I'm grateful to have been invited here as a contributor. Today marks the first of what I intend to be a weekly installment: the RogersToon.

Each Friday, I'll slog through Rep. Rogers' personal Neighborhood of Make-Believe and find something to draw a cartoon about. In the event that Rogers hasn't done anything particularly stupid, greedy, or evil one week, hopefully my caricature of his weird-looking face will tide us over until next time. Or maybe something not necessarily Rogers-related. Who knows. Anyway, here we go with RogersToon #1, special Sunshine Week edition:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mike Rogers Opposes Open Government

It's Sunshine Week!

For those who aren't familiar with Sunshine Week, here's a brief description:

Sunshine Week is about the public's right to know what its government is doing, and why. Sunshine Week seeks to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger.

Sunshine Week is a non-partisan initiative whose supporters are conservative, liberal and everything in between.

So, making information accessible to the public, and encouraging transparency in government to make communities stronger sounds like a good thing, right?

Not if you're Mike Rogers. He voted NO on two* of four important Sunshine Week-inspired open government bills this week. (For the record, Rogers did vote 'AYE' on H.R. 1309, which attempts to strengthen the FOIA.)

Yesterday Mr. Rogers voted NO on The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007. The bill is part of the Democrats’ Accountability Agenda, which...

strengthens protections for federal whistleblowers to prevent retaliation against those who report wrongdoing, waste, fraud, or abuse to authorities. It would protect all whistleblowers, with specific language for national security, contractor, and scientific whistleblowers. As such, it would enable whistleblowers to come forward in situations where intelligence was being mishandled as in the run-up to the Iraq War, where contractors are overcharging as has happened with Halliburton and many others, and where scientific integrity was being breached as has apparently happened repeatedly with the Bush Administration and global warming science.

The bill passed by a vote of 223-193.

Considering that Mike Rogers has accepted large PAC contributions from corporations like Koch Industries – a recipient of questionable no-bid government contracts – it's no surprise that he voted no on open-government bills like H.R. 985. Apparently it's not a priority for the government to protect whistleblowers who expose the overcharges of companies who receive no-bid contracts, like Koch Industries and Halliburton.

With republican congressman like Mike Rogers out of power in Washington, no longer able to fully shield their campaign financiers from Congressional oversight, it's no wonder that contractors like Halliburton are moving their corporate headquarters outside American borders.

Rogers also voted NO on H.R.1255, the Presidential Records Act. This bill...

would overturn President Bush’s 2001 Executive Order 13233 that allows presidents, vice presidents, former presidents, and even the families of former presidents to delay or withhold presidential records indefinitely.

The bill passed by an overwhelming majority: 333-93.

So, Mike Rogers voted 'AYE' on two of these open government bills, but voted 'NAY' on two others. Why does Mike Rogers only support some transparency in government? By its very nature, an open government is a good thing... except for those who have something to hide.

*CORRECTION: Mike Rogers also voted 'AYE' on H.R. 1362. I had originally written that he voted NO on this bill, when in fact, he had simply voted NO on one of the resolutions. The post has been amended to reflect this mistake.

Rogers on ethanol...

By Eric B.

Reprinted from MichiganLiberal, with permission.

I don't know if this is a direct transcript from yesterday's testimony by automakers before a House subcommittee on global warming and fuel standards, but if this is something Mike Rogers said...
What if we came up with a way to come up with a different kind of incentive? I'm a big ethanol guy. It's like giving a good salute to the Iranian Ayatollah every time I step on the gas. I love it.

...it might help explain the pounding headache I have this morning.

The story of ethanol is an American story, a new technology touted to be our key to giving more of our money to the American farmer (God bless his early-rising soul) and less to the nutty, crazed America-hating shieks in the Middle East.

There's just a slight problem.

There isn't enough corn in the Good Old U.S. of A. to satisfy our needs.  In fact, the total ethanol output we could get from our corn crop would barely make a dent in the nation's fuel needs, and that's if we converted all of our corn to ethanol.  (Speaking of which, Iowa is on track to use so much corn to make ethanol that eventually it'll have to import it from other states.)

That means that we, like our friends in Mexico (where food riots have already broken out over the rising cost of tortillas), will see a steady increase in the cost of food (the USDA is already predicting an increase in the cost of meat before too long).

In other words, every time Mike Rogers steps on the gas pedal, he is giving a salute to the Iranian ayathollahs, but he's also giving a different kind of salute to the American consumer.

We also know the other problem with corn-based ethanol ... as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is of questionable value (if you go with some other kind of plant -- Rogers alludes to switchgrass on his Web site -- the benefits are more evident ... as long as you don't use coal to heat your mash).

But, Rogers wasn't on about greenhouse gases.  In fact, he apparently doesn't think global warming is a problem.

"I do think there is contradictory science," Rogers said. "Rather than arguing about 'is it there or isn't it there,' the things we can agree on are emissions ... we can all agree that pollution is bad and there is much we can do and do together to eliminate pollution."

If Mike Rogers is calling carbon dioxide a pollutant, it puts him at least ahead of Antonin Scalia, who expressed reservations in calling CO2 a pollutant during testimony last year in front of the Supreme Court.  But, if he thinks there's science on "both sides" (just what this "other" side is, and what the science is that supports it is anyone's guess), it's more likely that he's after energy independence rather than environmental protection.

Energy independence is a good idea, but it isn't the same thing as reducing greenhouse gas emissions to reduce our impact on the world's climate.  You could, for instance, become totally energy independent if you started transforming our very abundant supply of coal to synthetic fuels (the technology for this has been around since World War II), but the entire manufacturing process releases even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than simply burning gasoline.

Politicians keen to win points by giving struggling farmers a cash crop to revive agriculture aren't the only folks guilty of conflating the two.  During yesterday's testimony, the automakers did it, too.

"New vehicle efficiency improvements alone will never result in the overall decline in petroleum consumption and the greenhouse gas emissions we need," said Chrysler Group President Tom LaSorda.

Of course, not, but let's not confuse the two goals.  They might eventually have a similar solution, and they might both be rooted in a long-standing overdependence on OPEC oil, but they are still very different things.

The problem, if both the testimony and the News story got it right, is that the focus is solely on E85 and flex-fuel engines (if Congress both raised mileage requirements and encouraged flex fuel engines, they'd have to adopt two sets of standards for two types of engines, since the lower-powered ethanol provides fewer miles per gallon).  Yet, there is not even a nod in the direction of ethanol's pressing availability issues.  Not only can we not grow enough corn to supplant gasoline, but it's also highly corrosive, creating substantial problems in transporting it efficiently from agricultural areas to population centers.

These are hardly state secrets.  In fact, Rogers introduced legislation meant to help gas stations install ethanol pumping equipment (how the ethanol would get from Iowa to Florida is another story).  So, it's hard to imagine that he and the Big Three are unaware of the serious limitations of their proposed alternative.

But, the real problem isn't with ethanol.  It's a matter of leadership.  So far no one in elected office has come clean with the American people ... ethanol could very well be part of the solution (I've seen references to the possibilities of fueling farm vehicles with ethanol, which seems reasonable), but to play it up like a silver bullet solution is to misguide the American people.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

PAC Man: Mike Rogers & Humana Inc.

Okay, before we get started, here's today's assignment: watch this clip from Michael Moore's old show on Bravo, The Awful Truth. It's only ten minutes long, but it should give you a pretty good idea of what today's PAC is all about. For the Michael Moore haters out there, just watch the clip before you automatically dismiss it.

Did you watch it yet? Good.

This lovely corporation's PAC, Humana Inc., gave Mike Rogers $2,500 during the 2006 election cycle, and $1000 during the 2004 campaign.

Now, compared to the $10,000 Mr. Rogers pocketed from Koch Industries during the '06 cycle, these two donations from Humana seem pretty small fry, but keep in mind that Rogers' $823,376 haul from PACs was built on a mountain of $2,500 donations. It seems like everyone owns a piece of Mike Rogers... except, of course, his constituents.

Here's something else to think about. Humana represents the broader healthcare industry, which of course is Mike Rogers #2 industry supporter (to the tune of $292,946). Considering how much the healthcare industry opposed the prescription drug bill earlier this year, and the fact that Humana sells Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, it's really no surprise that Mike Rogers voted NO vote on H.R. 4 back in January.

For those who need a refresher, H.R. 4 was written...

...to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate with pharmaceutical manufacturers the prices that may be charged to prescription drug plan sponsors and Medicare Advantage organizations for covered part D drugs for part D eligible individuals enrolled under a prescription drug plan or under a Medicare Advantage prescription drug (MA-PD) plan.

It's a pretty simple premise – buying medicine in bulk to reduce costs for medicare participants. Unfortunately, the idea was a little too simple for Mike Rogers, because he sided with healthcare companies like Humana, and voted against H.R. 4. Preserving profits for companies like Humana is clearly a priority for Rep. Rogers:

Commerce Committee Chairman Dingell suggested that the drug companies’ opposition was rooted in their profits. According to HHS, of the 43 million Medicare beneficiaries, about 22.5 million people, many of whom did not have prescription drug coverage before, have signed up for Part D, providing a boon to the drug companies.

“Those who insist that the sky is falling if the drug companies negotiate lower prices are arguing that those companies should continue to skin a fat hog at the expense of the taxpayers and the beneficiaries,” Dingell said.

Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong with companies seeking higher profits, but when corporate welfare trumps the needs of 22.5 million Americans, we have a problem.

Heck, even some republicans couldn't disagree with the logic behind H.R. 4:

One Republican, Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana, made the point that the government negotiates prices on everything from military equipment to the drug Cipro, which was used to fight anthrax attacks a few years ago. “To say we can’t negotiate on drug prices is just crazy,” he said. “I’m a Republican, Democrats are pushing this bill, but this should be bipartisan.” He voted in favor of the bill.

Unfortunately, this simple logic eluded Mike Rogers.

Remember folks, when Mike Rogers says he works "for you" keep in mind that he also works for a few Fortune 500 companies, like Humana, whose profits take priority over the needs of his constituents.

Mr. Rogers receives 'Public Enemy of Middle Class' Award

Just yesterday, we saw one more example of how out of touch Mr. Rogers is with Michigan's working class. Today, the evidence against Mr. Rogers continues to mount, and all his neglected constituents can do is run for the hills.

Mike Rogers has made the Top 18 Public Enemies of the Middle Class in Congress, according to Americans United for Change.
"More and more of America's working people are struggling to make ends meet, and our middle class is disappearing," said Jeremy Funk, spokesman for Americans United for Change. "At least two meaningful pieces of legislation to reverse this trend have already come before Congress this year - and, unfortunately, these eighteen Members were no where to be found when the middle class families they represent needed them most. Just last week, they each opposed the Employee Free Choice Act, which would give middle-class workers a fair shake by fixing a badly broken system for forming unions and bargaining with Corporate America for better pay, improved benefits and retirement security.
(emphasis added)

Mr. Rogers joins Michigan's Vern Ehlers on the dubious list. Of course, not just anyone made the Top 18
While more than 18 Republicans voted against both the minimum wage increase and the Employee Free Choice Act in the House, these 18 were selected as public enemies of the middle class because they either come from districts where these issues have gained added resonance because of the growing disparity between the wages of workers and corporate executives or because they had been identified as persuadable on these issues.

You can bet this is one award that Mr. Rogers won't be waving around come election time. In fact, we fully expect Mr. Rogers to bury this as far as he can.

The People of the Neighborhood will not forget, making sure the good folks of the 8th District remember what a true menace to society Mike Rogers really is.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Shock and Awe from Mr. Rogers

For once, I'd like to say thanks to Mr. Rogers.

From the AP:
Michigan's congressional delegation supported a proposal to help communities that have deteriorating sewers implement more modern wastewater systems.

Nearly the entire delegation last week supported the plan, sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, which would spend $1.7 billion over five years in federal grants to modernize sewer systems and control sewer overflows that have polluted rivers and streams.

Imagine that, Mr. Rogers actually doing something helpful for his constituents.

Of course, before any of us get too excited that this helping business might turn into a some sort of wacky trend, there's this, from the same story -
On Friday, the House approved the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which would give out up to $20 billion in loans over five years for water pollution abatement projects.

The measure would give union construction workers a hiring advantage for water projects funded by federal lending.

All six Michigan Democrats voted yes, joining Republican Reps. Vernon Ehlers of Grand Rapids, Thaddeus McCotter of Livonia, Fred Upton of St. Joseph and Candice Miller of Macomb County's Harrison Township. Four Republicans voted against it and Camp did not vote.

Whoa, even some of Michigan's most conservative congresscritters voted to help Michigan's economy, work force, and environment.

Mr. Rogers? Well, apparently the unions and the rest of the working class don't rate high enough (or didn't donate enough money to all of his special-interest projects for the super-rich) on his list of "constituents to really represent".

Mike Rogers: Michigan's most out-of-touch Congressman.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Captain Underpants Part Deux


Adventure No.2: The Congressional Refresher Course

Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS! Yes, CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS! A mild-mannered, chisel-jawed congressman; raised by a secret Chamber on a nearby planet and returned to mid-Michigan as a young child; afforded earthly protection by Gannett and nurtured by the Press-Argus; self-styled super-hero to the working family! He’s faster than a sleight-of-hand magician with ADD, able to change colors so fast as to make a chameleon blush, more powerful than a corporate PAC, able to control the press with a single release! Yes, it’s CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS, the unabashed symbol for spin, injustice and the multi-national corporate way!

And now, on to our hero’s latest adventure….

The mood was downright depressing in the House minority dungeon, er, basement meeting room. With the pain of November’s defeat still fresh, the Republican House members had gathered to search for a way back from the wilderness. Though there were a few new faces, many more old hands were missing, lost in the debacle that was the midterm election. Representative Boehner of Ohio slouched in the corner, hands fidgeting in his pockets, with the forlorn look of a teenager who got dumped at the prom. In the aftermath of the party’s humiliating losses, Boehner knew what he had to do: organize a pep rally. He looked around, and stepped furtively into the room’s small janitorial closet. Boehner took a deep breath, picking up the red phone tucked between the half-empty can of floor polish and a box of Phillips head screws. “Captain,” he said. “We need you.”

“You can count on me, buddy! I’ll be right over.” The Captain hung up the phone, a proud smile on his face. The guys needed him! A good dose of old-fashioned politicking was just what the Captain ordered. Since he wanted the gang to appreciate how serious the situation was, he skipped his sparkly red cape and even kept his pants on over his Old Glory boxers. Simply dressed in his new suit made with child labor in Youbettastan, he felt a warm glow knowing that those poor foreign kids had jobs. Plus it was cheap – even cheaper than the ones from the good old days of “Made in the USA” stuff from the Northern Mariana Islands.

As he lumbered into the room with his trademark grin, the relief was palpable. Hesitant smiles lit up the faces of the assembled minority. After a quick pause to feel the (entirely hetero) love, the Captain began the meeting with a moment of silence for their friend and colleague Bob Ney. Poor Bobby had just recently entered federal prison, all because of Jack “The Rat” Abramoff. The Captain heaved a sigh as he thought of the waste, the tragedy -- all those golf games going unplayed, all those yachts unchartered, all those scotches unsipped…

Clearing his throat, the Captain fixed his audience with a steely blue gaze and said, “Boys, we need to be tough and focus on the fundamentals. Here are a few rules I’ve developed in my years here, and I think you’ll see the sense in ‘em.” The gang leaned in closer, eager to learn from the man they all knew to be a Great Politician.

“Rule Number One,” declared the Captain, “the electorate doesn’t pay attention.” It was true. With the philosophy enacted into law by the Captain’s party, average voters were working longer hours and many had to take second jobs just to make ends meet. Since no one was protesting in the streets, the Captain figured they were either happy with the way things were, or just stupid. Maybe both. Either way, he was golden. The Captain sensed a little hesitation, so he offered an example. ”Look, I’m a member of the House Intelligence Committee. No one knows what we do, and every time I mention it I get instant, unassailable credibility. I’ve stated publicly that the streets of Baghdad were as safe as any of our major cities, that the war in Iraq and Afghanistan was going splendidly and that I negotiated with folks in the tribal areas of Pakistan to defeat the Taliban and al Qaida. Now it’s pretty obvious that today the security situation in Baghdad is worse than ever, the war is going to hell in a handcart and the Taliban and al Qaida are regrouping in Pakistan. But as long as I keep reminding everyone that I’m on the Intelligence Committee, no one ever questions my statements.

The Captain saw some confusion on the faces of the freshmen, so he offered another example. “Look, when we first went to war on the cheap and our guys weren’t properly equipped, I attended local events to raise money for armor and helmets. At the same time we lost 12 billion, that’s billion with a “b”, in funds going to Iraq. Do you think anyone asked how we could actually lose 12 billion dollars -- that’s 360 TONS of money -- and then ask local folks to shell out their hard-earned money for freakin’ armor and helmets? Not a peep, because I kept reminding people that I was a hero for supporting the troops! Gosh darn it, it’s a good thing they just can’t connect the dots.”

“Rule Number Two, we have to adapt and adopt. Now that the do-gooder party has the votes, I went along with cutting the interest rates on college loans. Do you think anyone even asked about our vote last year that cut 12 billion dollars from education, the largest single cut to education in the history of the United States? Heck, no. And, I looked like a hero when I announced that we were cutting the same interest rates that we raised just last year!”

“Um, Captain?” The hand of a hesitant freshie was raised. “How can you do that? I mean, isn’t that kind of dishonest? “

The Captain chuckled gently. “That brings me to Rule Number Three: perception is everything. Forget all the issues we were responsible for when we were in control. No one cares. And it’s not important. Yes, we have to give up a few lunches and free trips, but unless we take back the majority the next time, we can kiss it all good-bye. Getting re-elected is what counts.”

“But,” protested the freshman, “what about the media? Don’t they ask those kinds of questions?”

“Rule Number Four,” the Captain replied, “we control the media. Keep using the phrase ‘liberal-controlled media’ if anyone asks. And if they persist, tell them how we have to all work together, maybe some mistakes were made in the past but what is important is that we come together as Americans, that we protect our country, that we win, blah, blah, blah.”

The Captain, clearly on a roll now and wondering to himself how this Gomer ever got elected continued, “If that doesn’t work do what I do. I’m from a district with a bunch of small town newspapers. Everyone knows newspapers are dying from a lack of readers. That means they have to rely on local business advertising for support. Have one of your local business people, like a car dealer, threaten to pull their ads for a week and guess what? Instant press lapdogs.”

“OK, guys, we’re running out of time. We’ll meet again before the votes on reauthorizing Fast Track trade authority and we’ll go over how to handle that.

“Oh yeah, and one more thing: for you newbies, don’t even think of bringing all those campaign promises to the next meeting. You don’t control the agenda. Actually, I don’t even control the agenda. The Chamber is in charge, and that’s all you need to know right now.”

But who and what was this secret Chamber?

Stay tuned for the next adventure of Captain Underpants when he travels to a secret meeting of the Chamber of Titanus Willerbi.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Rogers votes against the middle class worker

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers voted against working men and women and the middle class Thursday by voting against HR 800, the Employee Free Choice Act, that would allow workers to organize a union free of an employer’s intimidation, free from fear of being fired and free from retaliation.

Despite Rogers voting against the average wage earner, the bipartisan bill passed by a vote of 241-185 with 13 Republicans voting for the middle class. However, the fight is not over, and it must go on to the Senate for approval. The powerful and rich U.S. Chamber of Commerce is already retaliating by launching a flight of radio ads today in 51 House districts. “We’re making people feel pain. You cannot cross the Chamber and support big labor at any cost,” Chamber national political director Bill Miller said in an interview. “The price is having thousands of dollars of radio run in your district," according to The National Journal of Feb. 27.

Unfortunately, this is one of the worst anti-union, anti-worker and even anti-U.S. manufacturer White Houses in recent years, and President Bush has pledged to veto the EFCA if it reaches his desk. The pro-worker Democrats only have a one-seat majority in the U.S. Senate, and groups like the Chamber plan to pump plenty of cash and resources into the fight.
“It's going to be even bigger and nastier with the whole kitchen sink,” Miller said in the Feb. 27 interview.

The EFCA will end a system that allows employers to coerce, intimidate, harass and threaten and even fire workers who dare to bargain for a better life. It was key to ending a system that allows corporations to destroy America’s middle class and lower working and living standards for all of us by blocking workers’ free choice.