Friday, September 28, 2007


Apparently, Mike Rogers (or someone on his staff) reads this blog. After Tuesday night’s post about his attempt to block the S-CHIP bill, an interesting thing happened.

A heartwarming press release was posted on Mr. Rogers' website, in which he assures us that his opposition to the S-CHIP bill on Tuesday was a result of the nasty Democrats messing around with an otherwise swell bill. As evidence of this, Mr. Rogers trotted out the Bush talking points almost word for word. Apparently, those Blue Meanies were going to:

-- make "massive" cuts to Medicare benefits (Though he neglects to mention that the cuts will come from payments to insurance companies, not coverage for seniors.)

-- give taxpayer-funded health care to families making up to $83,000 per year (Nope. Roughly 70 percent of children who would gain coverage are in families earning half that amount, and the bill contains no requirement for setting income eligibility caps any higher than what already exists in the current law. For details, visit

-- and provide taxpayer-funded health care for illegal aliens (This provision was not part of Tuesday’s version of the bill. In fact, the bill didn't even include benefits for children of LEGAL immigrants. The WaPo reports that House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) will push Democrats to come back at Bush with a new version that restores those benefits.)

A brief aside: Mr. Rogers has been receiving taxpayer-funded paychecks for the past couple of decades -- and very nice taxpayer-funded health insurance coverage to boot! As a result, he really has no idea of what health insurance costs an average family (especially if they have to buy an individual policy)...

Mr. Rogers said that he voted against this hideously flawed bill on Tuesday. He went on to say that he voted for the bill to extend S-CHIP funding on Wednesday... but the bill had passed 265-159 on Tuesday night and went over to the Senate the next day.

Perhaps he stood alone in a darkened room on Wednesday, recognized himself, introduced a bill to himself and voted for said bill. At least he feels better about it.

The other interesting thing is that the Freep’s coverage of the subject has changed quite a bit. The original story by Todd Spangler came out early Tuesday evening (I got the Google news alert at 5:37 p.m.). The piece was titled Mich. congressman balks at children's insurance legislation, and it included this line:
Mike Rogers, a Brighton Republican, failed in his effort to block the
legislation, at least temporarily, by noting another improper earmark – this one
for ...See all stories on this topic

The next day, the story had a new title: Congress debates whether Michigan is getting a break in children’s insurance bill and Mike Rogers was mentioned zero times, as was the improper earmark.

Rogers certainly isn't shy about his opposition to earmarks -- just ask Rep. Murtha! So why isn't Rogers sticking to his original beef? Maybe he did the math and realized that

Nice Guy Image -

NO on (vaccines for low-income kids + $$ for MI health care) =

Political Firestorm

When I contacted the Freep reporter to ask about the change, he noted that the story had indeed shifted to focus on the $1.2 billion earmark for Michigan. They didn't return to the Rogers angle because they chose not to write a story for the next day's paper. Now this does happen, especially with web versions of newspapers. But it still was a bit galling to see Rogers completely off the hook and out of the story.

Just for fun, let's review the long list of crazy knee-jerk liberal types who have publicly supported this bill. Ready?

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), business interests, the Catholic church, the health insurance industry, children's advocates, most of the nation's governors, the AARP and the American Medical Association.

With a weaselly flip-flop on the reason for his "no" vote and his bogus claim of voting in favor of some mysterious other children's health care bill, Mr. Rogers once again has shown that he places loyalty to George Bush over serving the people of MI-08.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Health Care for Poor Kids? The Terrorists Will Win!

I was sad but not surprised to read that Rep. Mike Rogers tried yet again to block reauthorization for the State Childrens' Health Insurance Program.

Apparently, ol' FBI Guy found nefarious evidence of an earmark that wasn't "properly disclosed" and tried to bring the whole thing to a halt. The improperly disclosed earmark in question? It was $30 million in funding for Tennessee hospitals that provide a large percentage of care for low-income patients. Funny, that sounds vaguely related to health care for low-income kids...

Here's the kicker -- the same bill had a provision that would do a tremendous amount for Michigan:
Speaking on the floor today, Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, says the bill
includes what amounts to a $1.2 billion earmark for health care in Michigan over 10 years’ time.

As we stand at the brink of a state government shutdown -- or draconian cuts to state services -- Rogers was willing to chuck $120 million a year over the next decade just so he could carry water for the Bush administration.

Let me repeat this:

Mike Rogers tried to block a bill that would give Michigan $120 million a year for health care.

From a strictly economic perspective, health care is one of the few positive sectors in the MI economy. My better half, Dr. Kelster, noted that for every physician hired, seven direct downstream jobs are created (things like xray & lab techs, office staff, etc.).

From a less charitable perspective, you have to wonder just who it is that Mr. Rogers thinks he represents. He has time to chat with national media about the Looming Iranian Threat. He has time to write a letter urging state legislators to "hang tough" on no new taxes -- even though he's happily voted for irresponsible federal spending time and again. He's worried about counterfeit pharmaceuticals, though he hasn't done much of anything to make the genuine ones more affordable for retirees.

Yet when Rogers had a chance to get $1.2 billion for Michigan health care in a bill that has strong bipartisan support (Orrin Hatch and Joe Barton both think it's a good bill!), he decided it was more important to be a hall monitor.

The sort of happy ending? Rogers' attempt to stop the bill failed, and it passed with bipartisan support (265-159). The not-so-happy ending? Bush is threatening to veto it, and there are doubts that the House will have enough votes (290) to override the veto. I don't hold much hope for Rogers doing the right thing any time soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

MYOB, Mr. Rogers

Mr. Rogers has been very busy lately. Fresh from shilling the Iranian Threat and taking credit for literature programs he didn't develop, he's now turned his attention to the Michigan budget crisis.

Apparently, Mr. Rogers "took the lead" in a letter from five MI GOP Members of Congress to Senator Bishop and Minority Leader DeRoche, urging them to hang tough against a tax increase reminding them of all the swell things they're working on in Washington:
The letter highlights the Congressional delegation’s efforts at the federal level to help Michigan’s economy, including a battle to support the struggling U.S. auto industry, and moving forward a crackdown on illegal Chinese trade practices like currency manipulation, counterfeiting products, and stealing intellectual property.

Perhaps there would be more resources available to support the auto industry (or even something frivolous, like better funding for children's health care or secure borders) if our nation wasn't spending over $453 billion -- and counting -- on the Iraq War.

Mr. Rogers even had the temerity to roll out an old Friedman/free market chestnut:
“Keeping taxes low will stimulate the economy and help create jobs to keep Michigan citizens living, working and raising families in Michigan,” Rogers said. “You cannot tax your way to prosperity.”

A quick reality check:

(1) Michigan's income tax was last cut in 2000, from 4.3 to 3.9%. Remind me again how the Michigan economy has been doing in the last seven years?

(2) The federal budget has a global current account deficit of roughly $800 billion -- almost 7% of our GDP.

(3) The rosy scenario that our budget deficit is "on track" to decline from a record $412 billion in 2004 to $244 billion this year leaves out the fact that Bush blew a several billion dollar surplus when he took office in 2001.

Mike Rogers also took office in 2001. Since then, he has unwaveringly supported the Bush administration's adventures in finance AND in Iraq. With a track record like that, he has no business giving budget advice to the Michigan legislature.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Strength in Numbers

It can feel a little lonely at times when you're a Democrat in Livingston County. You hear the jokes ("The Few, The Proud"), you get the sympathy (Washtenaw Dems can only imagine our pain), you cherish dreams of redistricting.

Good news: you are not alone!

Meet some new faces and reconnect with some familiar ones at Sunday's Livingston County Democratic Party Picnic. Come on over to Huron Meadows MetroPark for an afternoon of brats & hot dogs, a presidential straw poll and much more. Just $10 per person and $25 per family, it's a great deal and a fun time. Joining the Dems will be Lieutenant Governor John Cherry, so come on out and show your support.

For more details, visit Judy's post at Living Blue or contact the LivCo Democratic Party (leave a message at party headquarters, (810) 229-4212, or email them at

Once more with feeling

Mr. Rogers is shaking his Iranian Threat pom-poms again, this time on the Jack Lessenberry show.

Lessenberry listened to Mike's golly-gee explanation of the Iranian Threat, then neatly skewered Rogers' faulty logic (and flip-flopping history) in an essay titled Howling Wolf. Several important points that bear repeating:

1.) Rogers has demonstrated that political pressure easily trumps his FBI/House Intel experience that he so often references. Why should we listen to him this time?

Here’ s something else you may not have known about Mike Rogers, who represents a large district that sprawls from Oakland County past Lansing. Exactly five years ago, he came back from the Middle East and announced he had changed his mind and was no longer in favor of a military attack on Iraq.

Information from Saudi and Israeli intelligence agents had convinced him it wasn’t
necessary, he said. He held that position for about six weeks. But then he changed his mind again.

I imagine he, like other congressmen, was under great pressure from the White House. Well, we know how all that turned out. We were told Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But it wasn’t true, and now we are stuck in a quagmire, with no end in sight.

2.) Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it
The congressman thinks we can put adequate pressure on Iran and prevent them from getting nuclear materials by imposing sanctions. Maybe. But I was in elementary school when we were told we’d overthrow Fidel Castro through sanctions. I am a member of AARP now. The sanctions are still in place, and Fidel is still there. What if it did come down to military action against Iran?
How grimly ironic it would be if our failure to see the truth in Iraq were to blind us about the truth in Iran.

3.) Even if we could all agree that invading Iran was a swell idea, we don't have sufficient troops (or cash) to execute that plan. An honest assessment of our military will show you active duty service members who are heading back for their third -- or fourth! -- rotation in Iraq, and National Guard and reservists who have served multiple year-long deployments. Allowing political gamesmanship to stretch our military this thinly does a grave disservice to our troops and their families, not to mention our nation's security.
The fact is that we now have fewer men in uniform than at any time since before Pearl Harbor. There are insufficient troops to send to Iran, even if the nation were in the mood to do so. Mike Rogers, a veteran himself, must know that. He also knows the story of the little boy who cried wolf once too often.

Three cheers for Lessenberry! Let's hope that other mainstream media folks will start making these points, instead of blindly quoting Mr. Rogers on the "threat" of Iranian WMD.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Do Your Own Work, Mr. Rogers

As a book group veteran, Friend of the (Brighton) Library and the daughter of a librarian, I was thrilled to hear about the Cromaine Library's Saturday kickoff of "The Big Read." With the support of an National Ednowment for the Arts (NEA) grant, the library offered free copies of Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 as part of its community read. The library has also organized a series of programs and speakers focused on the book.

This is a great honor for the Cromaine Library, which was one of a limited number of community libraries to receive the NEA grant. It's a terrific boost for literature in our community. It's also a timely book:
Fahrenheit 451 takes place in an unspecified future time in a hedonistic and rabidly anti-intellectual America that has completely abandoned self-control and bans the possession of books. People are now only entertained by in-ear radio and an interactive form of television. The protagonist, Guy Montag, is a fireman, certain that his job—burning books, and the houses that hold them, and persecuting those who own them—is the right thing to do. (from Wikipedia)

Making the day even more interesting was one of the attendees: Mike Rogers. Rogers has been mighty scarce in these parts lately, but he did manage to provide a nugget o' literary wisdom for a local reporter :
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, stopped by and said programs such as "The Big Read" are important because less than half of adults now read literature, according to an NEA report.

That trend can transfer over to children, he added.

"If they don't see the adults around them reading, you can imagine what it could do," Rogers said.

Now, this is absolutely true. It's good that Rogers is concerned about children being encouraged to read. It would be even nicer if his concern for children extended to providing them with basic health care, but since he voted against last month's bill to reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance program (S-CHIP) I guess he's not too worried about it.

And when exactly did Rogers become a supporter of the arts? Americans for the Arts gave him ratings of just 37% in 2006 and 38% in 2004. Americans for the Arts isn't some loony group that considers elephant dung an art supply; they're a well-established organization that focuses on local arts and developing partnerships with business leaders and educators.

To put it mildly, it's annoying to see Mr. Rogers use one of his (increasingly rare) appearances at a local event to give the impression that he's concerned with child welfare, education and arts funding. if a student did something similar, it would very likely be described as plagiary.
Merriam-Webster defines plagiarize as a transitive verb, meaning "to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (another's production) without crediting the source."

Mr. Rogers should do his own work.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Gimme an I! Gimme an R! Gimme an A and a N!

Yes, that's right: Rep. Mike Rogers has once again donned his plaid skirt & picked up the pom-poms to cheerlead for the Bush Administration's latest dubious WMD claim. This morning's Detroit Free Press features a piece by our own Congressman titled "Beware Iran." He led off his guest column with:
Like me, many Americans are spending this week buying the last-minute pencils, backpacks and school clothes our kids need as they head back to their classrooms.

As we are busy with this important task, I hope we don't forget about a threat that is looming 3,000 miles away. One year ago this month, the House Intelligence Policy Subcommittee, which I chaired, issued a report warning that "despite its claims to the contrary, Iran is seeking nuclear weapons."

[Note: even for me, it's tough to muster enough snark to properly address that opening line.]

Also included in Mr. Rogers' What I Did on My Summer Vacation essay are tidbits like
According to press reports, Iran could have 8,000 centrifuges by January. And the theocratic government in Tehran has said it plans to construct up to 50,000 centrifuges.

Interesting word choices here: "seeking," "could have," and "plans to". Well, I'm seeking to eat less ice cream. According to press reports, my husband could have booked us a flight to a tropical island. And my teenagers have plans to stay home and clean the garage on Saturday night. Hey, it could happen!

Once the vague scary outline is established, Mr. Rogers goes on to conveniently blame everyone else for this supposedly dire situation. He gives the U.S. intelligence community a couple of spanks for being too lily-livered to deal with the rough-and-tumble of manly politics

Although I have seen some improvements over the last year in intelligence analysis of WMD questions, I am afraid that the aftermath of the Iraq WMD intelligence failures has left some intelligence agencies and analysts reluctant to stick their necks out and draw clear conclusions on controversial subjects. This reluctance is dangerous to America's national security, since it could delay or prevent crucial information from reaching policymakers.

Before 9/11, intelligence analysts lacked much of the information needed to connect the dots. Now, I am afraid they have the dots but are afraid to connect them for the fear of being run out of town for political reasons. [skip]

U.S. intelligence analysts didn't like Congress double-checking its Iran analysis. This was not surprising, since not only did we find some of their assumptions about Iran had little or no justification, we also saw clear indications of reluctance by U.S. intelligence agencies and the IAEA to draw analytic conclusions on issues they viewed as political hot potatoes.

Ooooookay. We'll skip over the inconvenient point that professional intelligence analysts aren't supposed to let domestic political considerations influence their analyses. Sounds like the intel community has drawn clear conclusions -- they just aren't lining up with Mr. Roger's efforts to promote Bush's Iran plan.

Anyone else for Mr. Rogers to blame? Of COURSE there is!
While Congress wastes time on scoring political points, Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons and backing terrorists, North Korea continues its nuclear-weapons program, and attacks by radical Islamists are taking place across the globe from London to Islamabad.

It has been a great disappointment that instead of focusing on strong oversight of our policy on Iran, Al Qaeda or Iraq, the House Intelligence Committee throughout this year has focused instead on a National Intelligence Estimate to study climate change, as well as whether or not the attorney general was conscious or unconscious when he made a decision in 2004 and words in the president's 2003 State of the Union address.

Oh, those crazy kids in Congress! Paying attention to things like upholding the Bill of Rights (which is, I believe, the purview of the Judiciary Committee rather than Intelligence) and climate change while the shadowy Iranian threat lurks around the corner. What makes them think they can walk and chew gum at the same time?

Reality check, Mr. Rogers: You have served on the House Intel committee since you got to Congress in 2000. You chaired the subcommittee on Intelligence Policy. The GOP control of Congress ended less than a year ago, so stop pointing fingers and accept some responsibility for the decisions that were made on your watch.

This administration has botched our mission in Afghanistan. This was the one place we needed to be, and though we had started to make positive changes the diversion of troops, funds and supplies to Iraq ruined our chances of making Afghanistan a truly free and functioning country. A Reuters article in this morning's NY Times notes that "Violence has been surging in the past 19 months in Afghanistan, the bloodiest period since the Taliban's removal from power in 2001."

This administration has botched our mission in Iraq. Plenty of people have argued the finer points of this one. Either way, the utter lack of planning and the abundance of spectacularly bad decision-making has ensured that our troops are overcommitted and under-supported as they valiantly fight and die for... politically-motivated goalposts that keep moving.

This administration is ignoring the very real terrorist threat around the world as it chases the next Designated Bad Guy. Guess what? State-sponsored terrorism ain't what it used to be -- it pales in comparison to the growing leagues of home-grown bad guys. Just check a few recent news stories: Three Terror Suspects Arrested in Germany (2 of whom are German citizens), Seven held in Danish terror raids (all of whom were Danish citizens) and a Canadian citizen was arrested for his role in a British bombing conspiracy.

Mr. Rogers neatly ends his fearmongering and finger-pointing with another tug on the ol' heartstrings, saying that "Congress needs to address the Iranian threat. As a parent myself, I don't want my children's future threatened by problems we've left unresolved."

Well, I'm a parent, too and I wholeheartedly concur with that last sentence. Too bad Mr. Rogers and the rest of the cheerleading squad aren't paying attention to the real threats to our futures.