Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rogers votes with big oil against consumers

When you fill up your car’s gas tank in the next couple of weeks, I hope you remember Mike Rogers voted, again, with big oil companies in opposing a bill that would outlaw gasoline price gouging.

U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) introduced HR 1252, the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act, that would provide penalties for those who take unfair advantage of consumers at the pump. The legislation would penalize individuals or companies for taking "unfair advantage" or charging "unconscionably excessive" prices for gasoline and other fuels.

The bill passed the House 284-141 last week and now goes to the Senate. The bill saw 56 Republicans joining all but one Democrat in supporting the bill, including two Michigan Republicans, but Rogers joined fellow Republicans Pete Hoekstra, Vern Ehlers, Dave Camp, Fred Upton, Tim Walberg and Joe Knollenberg in voting for big oil and against the consumer.

Gasoline is near the $4 a gallon mark, and gas prices in Michigan are the highest in the nation, yet Rogers thinks record and obscene profits by oil companies are not enough.

Even without the numbers in yet for the record gas prices, oil companies are raking it in. BP Amoco enjoyed a profit increase of 117 percent between 2002 and 2004. In 2002, BP Amoco netted a hefty $8.4 billion. In 2004, this ballooned to $17 billion. Shell raked in a hefty $10 billion dollar profit in 2002, which jumped to $18 billion by 2004. In 2002, Exxon Mobil’s profit was just a measly $11.5 billion, but by 2004 that more than doubled to $25 billion.

You will remember Bush’s energy policy, put together by oil men in secret, threw money at oil companies for research, new drilling, new refineries and it even allowed them to drill on federal land without paying any royalties.

We are told the high price is because of increased demand, but oil companies are not increasing new drilling and increasing supply. Why? Because that would increase supply and drive down prices. We are told we pay more for gasoline the farther away from a refinery we are. Ironically, the ones closest to Michigan, like in Toledo, shut down for maintenance just as demand is heaviest, driving the supply down and the price up. Oil companies do not want to build any new refineries because it will increase supply and drive the price down.

With all this stacked in the favor of oil companies, why not a small protection for consumers?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Rogers threat stunt garners the attention he craves

With his party in the minority and Mike Rogers shuttled to the sidelines with the Democratic majority, he has found a new way to both continue his role as Bush’s biggest cheerleader and lackey by going after the biggest Republican target and getting the most recognition and attention he has ever had in his entire political life.

As you are aware, Rogers tried last week unsuccessfully to strike from an intelligence spending bill an item that would restore $23 million for the National Drug Intelligence Center, a facility in Rep. Jack Murtha's Pennsylvania district.
According to Rogers' account, the Pennsylvania Democrat – the chair of House Defense Appropriations Chairman - angrily told Rogers he should never seek earmarks of his own because "you're not going to get any, now or forever." Rogers took the unusual step and called on the full House to reprimand Murtha. Rogers introduced what is called a "privileged" resolution charging Murtha violated House ethics rules when he allegedly threatened to cut off "now and forever" any earmarks for Rogers' district. Luckily, the measure was killed.

For that ridiculous threat, Rogers made just about every newspaper in the country, he was allowed to make the weekly GOP radio address where he attacked Murtha and he was also talked about on my favorite radio show, “The Stephanie Miller Show.” The point they made is this is the way politics have been conducted for years, and he should stop being a whiny baby. I agree. One lawmaker had this to say about Rogers, “put on your long pants and grow up.” How is this an ethics violation? If you need an ethics violation you just need to hear the names Bob Nye, Duke Cunningham and Jack Abramoff.

I challenged people earlier in the week to show what “earmark” – his job – Rogers has brought back to the 8th Congressional District. I’m still waiting. People here in Livingston County complain that we are a donor county because we send more money to Washington, D.C. than we get back, but somehow Rogers has painted properly representing your district as an ethics violation. Isn’t bringing some of that money back to the district what we sent him there for? I guess that’s why he never does, but I thought that was his job?

Murtha did take the high road and apologized to Rogers, but, according to Rogers' spokesperson, he also took the low road and declined not to accept it, “Congressman Rogers does accept the apology, but he is truly hopeful that this whole episode will change the way Congress spends the American taxpayers' money." Please. If Rogers does not accept an apology and his “privileged" resolution is going nowhere, what does Rogers want? He wants to smear Murtha and score political points.

This is from Rogers radio address, “Last Friday, House Republicans discovered that a Member of Congress had hidden a wasteful earmark -- or pet pork project -- worth tens of millions of dollars into a bill designed to fund America's Intelligence operations. It comes down to a choice between spies catching terrorists or pork barrel spending in a Congressional District. We are a nation at war, and when we find wasteful spending, we must stop it. “


The “pet project" in question is the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown. The center “continues to play an important role in assessing the drug threat, identifying the patterns of distribution and gathering information from documents to help arrest drug traffickers,” Murtha said.

So let’s see if I got this right. Rogers is criticizing Murtha for trying to keep a facility open in his district that provides jobs and helps fight terror, and Rogers has done nothing for our biggest employer and simply watches as plat after plant closes and moves jobs overseas? Great job Mike.

Is it just me or does anyone else remember being bombarded a few years ago with public service commercials saying that by buying illegal drugs you were funding terrorists and terrorism?

Apparently Bush does. President Bush said that drug users aid terrorists who get their money from global trafficking in narcotics. "If you quit drugs, you join the fight against terrorism," he said. Mr. Bush offered a new argument in the fight against drugs while signing a bill to expand a federal anti-drug program over the next five years. The administration has linked the al-Qaida network in Afghanistan to heroin trafficking. The terrorist group, led by Osama bin Laden, is suspected in the Sept. 11 attacks on America.

Has that changed?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fill 'er up?

I drive a pretty fuel-efficient car. I keep my tires inflated, use cruise control when possible, organize my errands to minimize driving time, blah blah blah. So I was pretty happy to hear that on the day that gas prices in beautiful downtown Brighton jumping from $3.44 to $3.57 in one morning , the House would be voting on a measure to crack down on gasoline price gouging, and a directive to the Justice Department to prosecute “unconscionably excessive” pricing.

Guess who voted against it?

According to Mr. Rogers,

"What I'm afraid of is that you're going hear in the days and weeks ahead calls for investigations. That isn't an energy policy. We really need more refining capacity and alternative energy. We don't need more hot air."
It’s definitely the case that we need a bigger investment in alternative energy. It’s also true that despite their record-breaking profits the past few years, the oil companies haven’t increased their refining capability.

But… why not walk & chew gum at the same time? Why NOT go after price gougers, Mr. FBI Guy?

Wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that Mr. Rogers voted for the 2005 Energy Bill that gave $12 billion plus in tax breaks and incentives to the oil & gas industries. Or that he has taken $153, 750 from Big Oil.

On the bright side, at least he’s consistent: he voted against crackdowns on price gouging in 2005, too.

Who does Mike Rogers really work for?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Rogers uses threat MO to attack respected colleague

It appears Rep. Mike Rogers is the latest weapon in the GOP’s quest to discredit U.S. Rep John Murtha, D-PA.

The Associated Press is reporting that during a series of House votes Thursday, Murtha walked to the GOP side to confront Rogers, a former FBI agent. This month, Rogers had tried unsuccessfully to strike from an intelligence spending bill an item that would restore $23 million for the National Drug Intelligence Center, a facility in Murtha's Pennsylvania district.
According to Rogers' account, which Murtha did not dispute, the Democrat angrily told Rogers he should never seek earmarks of his own because "you're not going to get any, now or forever."
"This was clearly designed to try to intimidate me," Rogers told The Associated Press on Friday. "He said it loud enough for other people to hear."

If anyone can tell me what funding Rogers has brought back to the 8th Congressional District I would sure like to hear it. Rogers appears to be fitting into his role as the minority quite well, and after being a cheerleader for Bush’s ill-conceived Iraq fiasco, he now appears to be serving it in a new role as the attack dog.

Rogers said he planned to file a "privileged resolution" Monday that would seek a House vote on whether to reprimand Murtha.

Rogers also claims Murtha made the alleged threat in front of a lot of people, and they are all, of course, Republicans. However, as of Sunday no one has come forward to back up Rogers’ yard.

Murtha, a harsh critic of Bush’s botched Iraq policy, has long been a target of the Republicans. During the last election season an offshoot of the Smear Boat Vets for “truth” that smeared every veteran who ever earned a medal, citation or commendation in their quest to get Sen. John Kerry formed something called “boot Murtha.” It operates just like the smear vets, and it smears all veterans, a tactic taken by the Bush Administration that pays mere lip service to their “support the troops” mantra.

Murtha is a Vietnam combat veteran, and apparently they don’t like that Murtha won two Purple Hearts. Murtha is also a retired Marine Colonel.

This is not a new tactic for Rogers. A few years back, around 2002, the Rogers camp claimed a former staffer named Bill Nowling - who was working for a political consulting group called Persuasion, Inc at the time that was representing a large telecommunications, At & T, I believe- tried to blackmail Rogers. The Rogers people claim Nowling said if Rogers didn’t vote for a telecommunications bill the group’s client wanted passed there would be hundreds of the company’s employees picketing in his office the next day. Now, Nowling claims it never happened, but the Rogers people sure made a big deal out of it at the time. I am still looking for the article that ran in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.

UPDATE (Pohlitics): Here is the resolution introduced by Mike Rogers.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thirteen Weeks and Two Pages to Answer a Yes or No Question about Global Warming

On February 7, 2007, I sent an email to Rep. Rogers' office asking the following question:
I would like to know how Rep. Rogers voted in this National Journal Poll about Global Warming.

Does the Congressman believe "it's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of man-made problems?"
The poll I was referring to surveyed 113 members of Congress: 10 Senate Democrats, 48 House Democrats, 10 Senate Republicans, and 45 House Republicans (including Mike Rogers).

This is what the poll found: 95% of Democrats believe in man-made global warming, whereas 83% of Republicans do not believe the science behind global warming.

Well, after seven weeks, I finally received a response from Mike Rogers' office via snail mail today. It's almost two pages long, and lays out all the steps the Congressman has taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the House. As Mr. Rogers says, he is...
acutely sensitive to the delicate balance we must reach protecting our precious environment, while preserving the jobs that provide for our way of life.
Unfortunately, nowhere in the two-page letter does he use the term "global warming." Nowhere does he say how he voted in the National Journal poll (which is what I asked). And nowhere in the letter does he admit that there is a link between the warming of the Earth and man-made pollutants, such as carbon dioxide.

Now, I do appreciate that the folks at Mike Rogers' office took the time to send me this letter, and I'm willing to give the Congressman some credit for what efforts he has made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (trust me, his record is better than some of his Republican colleagues).

However, as we have pointed out in the past, Rep. Rogers continues to deny the fundamental science behind global warming, has accepted numerous campaign contributions from some of the country's most notorious polluters, and consistently receives failing grades from environmental groups.

Mike Rogers closed his letter to me by saying:
Rest assured, I will work tirelessly toward this important economic, environmental and national security effort.
Unfortunately, this commitment will continue to ring hollow until Mike Rogers can bring himself to answer my initial question.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Coming to a representative near you

By Eric B. Cross-posted from MichiganLiberal.

Fred Upton and Mike Rogers, you're officially on notice. You are violating the wishes of 60 percent of the American people, and it is time to stop.

VoteVets.org is today launching a three-ad series featuring three retired generals, two of whom were George Bush's commanders on the ground. Their ads are airing in states and districts of those Members of Congress who are very close to breaking with the President on Iraq, and joining the troops and American people. You can visit the Vote Vets homepage here.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Captain on the Road

I do like a nice bedtime story:
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! Able to change colors faster than a Red Bull-chuggin' chameleon , 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 Captain was sulking in his new Capitol office. It was new, but it wasn’t a cool office like his old one. It was tiny, with barely enough room for his shiny phone system to dial up $13,000 worth of “telephone town halls.”

He was stuck down in the basement near the janitorial supply closet and the service entrance to the Cannon HOB. Though looking on the bright side (as he liked to do), it WAS closer to his super-secret lair.

Gosh darn it, he thought. No one was calling on him for his super-snazzy political powers anymore! It wasn’t fair – his Congressional rank had dropped from 37th most powerful to 274th, just because the Democrats controlled the House AND the Senate.

Jeez o’pete! You’d think he wasn’t important any more…

Then the Captain got an idea. A star-spangled, security-filled, I’m-on-the-Intelligence-Committee-and-you’re-not idea. He’d hit the road! Yeah, that’s the ticket: another fact-finding trip! He’d visit a few Middle Eastern countries, show off a little geopolitical expertise, and pick up some new material for his heartwarming adventure stories, um, fact-based anecdotes.

Face it -- HE was the right person to do this sort of thing. Not like that Pelosi woman. Who did she think she was, gallivanting off to talk to that Assad guy in Syria? Pelosi thinks she’s sooooo important, just because she’s the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. So what if the Iraq Study Group thought it was a good idea? Everyone knows that the ISG is full of weenies and academic candy-asses.

Wait a sec, thought the Captain. Weenies? Candy? … ooh, time for a snack!

Suitably refreshed, the Captain wiped the cinnamon bun crumbs from his chiseled jaw and reached for the phone to make his plane reservations. He didn’t use the Internet much beyond nosing through people’s bank records and keeping kids safe from all sorts of online predators (except the Congressional ones).
Yes, he thought. A little road trip would be just the thing to get him back in the spotlight

Mike Rogers Opposes Hate Crime Legislation

This is "Compassionate Conservatism" at its finest.

Mike Rogers voted against H.R. 1592, the "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007" (also known as the Matthew Shepard Act) today. Here's a little background information about this bill:
[H.R. 1592] Authorizes the Attorney General to provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any crime that: (1) constitutes a crime of violence under federal law or a felony under state, local, or Indian tribal law; and (2) is motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim or is a violation of the state, local, or tribal hate crime laws.
Here are some quotes (and links to video) of Democratic lawmakers explaining why we need this important legislation:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “Every day we that we come to this floor we pledge allegiance to the flag and at the end of that pledge we say, ‘liberty and justice for all.’ And that is what today is about…Hate crimes have no place in America - no place where we pledge every morning ‘with liberty and justice for all.’ We must act to end hate crimes and save lives." [YouTube]
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: “Some people ask: Why is this legislation even necessary? To them, I answer: because brutal hate crimes motivated by race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation and identity or disability not only injure individual victims, but also terrorize entire segments of our population and tear at our nation’s social fabric." [YouTube]
Majority Whip James Clyburn: King went on to say that it is always right, the right time to do that which is right. Now a lot of people yesterday told me that this is the wrong time to bring this legislation. For a moment I agreed, but reflecting on Dr. King’s admonition that the time is always right to do right, I come before this body today to ask us to use the time that we have before us to do right by those people who may not be like us.” [YouTube]
Here's another little tidbit about the bill (from AmericaBlog):
The GOP has been refusing to support the hate crimes bill because it doesn't include members of the US Armed Forces and senior citizens. Conyers just rose and basically said, okay, I'll add them. The Republicans' response? Uh, no.

The Republicans have been railing for days about how this legislation doesn't cover our Armed Forces and senior citizens, and now that the Dems offer to put our Armed Forces and seniors in this legislation, the Republicans said no and affirmatively stopped the Democrats from doing it anyway.

That means the Republicans had no intent on helping our Armed Forces and seniors, on protecting them. It was just a stunt. The GOP leaders in Congress just got up and used our Armed Forces and seniors as political fodder when they had no intent on actually doing anything to help our Armed Forces and seniors.
Here is the response from the Matthew Shepard Foundation, following today's vote:
“I am encouraged that the House was able to overcome the lies and misinformation being spread by anti-gay organizations trying to derail this bill. As the parent of a young man killed simply for being gay, I refuse to be silent and let this bill be misconstrued by these organizations,” continues Judy Shepard.

Current federal hate crimes law permits the federal prosecution of a hate crime only if the hate crime was motivated by bias based on race, color, religion, or national origin and the assailant intends to prevent the victim from exercising a "federally protected right" such as the right to vote or attend school. If this legislation is passed by the Senate and signed by the president, the law would be expanded to protect the GLBT community as well as remove the restrictions on what type of acts can be considered applicable under hate crime law.
For the record, the bill passed by a vote of 237-180. Unfortunately, President Bush has said he will veto the bill.

According to Project Vote Smart, Mike Rogers has received failing grades from numerous Civil Rights organizations since he took office. Here are just a few examples:
2005 Representative Rogers supported the interests of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 22 percent in 2005.

2005 Representative Rogers supported the interests of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights 0 percent in 2005.

2003-2004 Representative Rogers supported the interests of the Human Rights Campaign 0 percent in 2003-2004.
With a record like that, along with his ties to well-known bigots like Ann Coulter and Kyle Bristow, it's really no surprise that Mike Rogers voted no on this bill.

Michigan's 8th district deserves better representation.

Mike Rogers Makes Excuses for 'The Commander Guy'

With 67% of Michigan residents opposing the President's handling of the war, Mike Rogers is still first in line to make excuses for "The Commander Guy":
“We shouldn’t make decisions in Washington, D.C. that handcuff our soldiers in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “Cutting funds for troops in the field jeopardizes their safety and offers not one solution allowing them to come home soon, safe and proud of their accomplishments.
Actually, the bill passed by Congress was funding for the troops. Mike Rogers and George Bush voted against this.
“Setting an artificial timetable in Iraq does not allow for any continued effort against al-Qaida, which is currently seeking safe haven in large parts of Iraq and clearly presents a threat to the safety of the United States,” Rogers continued.
Al-Qaida is not the main problem in Iraq –– we are witnessing at least four major internal conflicts. Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi acknowledged that his country is experiencing a civil war over a year ago:
We are losing each day as an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more - if this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell echoed these remarks yesterday:
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday that Iraq's violence meets the standard of civil war and that if he were heading the State Department now, he might recommend that the administration use that term.
We can debate all the mistakes made in Iraq until the cows come home, but the bottom line is that a solid majority of Americans now support a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq:
Nearly six in 10 Americans want to see U.S. troops leave Iraq either immediately or within a year, and more would rather have Congress running U.S. policy in the conflict than President Bush, according to a CNN poll out Tuesday.
Mike Rogers just doesn't get it. His constituents want an end to this war, yet he continues to support George Bush's failed policies.

As we have pointed out before, Mr. Rogers has been accepting campaign contributions from Iraq war profiteers for the past two election cycles.

Michigan's 8th district deserves better.