Thursday, November 20, 2008

Picking and Choosing

Back in September, Mike Rogers boasted about his success in achieving a "victory for Michigan workers."

Then for some reason, he decided it would be more fun to rail against the Wall Street bailout (to the point where a local reporter basically told him to put up or shut up). Nothing more was heard from Mr. Rogers on the auto industry, despite non-stop coverage in local and national media.

In fact, Mr. Rogers was so mum about the imploding auto industry that Judy over at LivingBlue was forced to point out that, for a guy who just finished campaigning on JOBS, he was being a little too quiet:

Now that the election is past and the hometown boy has been returned to his government job, Rogers is pretty silent about protecting the jobs of the rest of us.

Finally, a written statement was released by Rogers' office, including the pithy observation of his spokeswriter spokesperson Sylvia Warner that Rogers was "researching the details of the proposed package before commenting."

OK, time to compare and contrast.

Today, at 10:51 a.m., Roll Call reported that Michigan Congressman Dingell was replaced by Henry Waxman (D-CA) as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Within hours, Rogers blasted out a press release offering his opinion on this leadership change in the other party and chatting with Livingston County radio station WHMI.

He [Rogers] says this does not bode well for Michigan or any of the thousands working in the auto industry.

Wait -- does this mean everything was swimming along just fine until Henry Waxman got the chairmanship? Henry Waxman is the reason things are tanking in Michigan? How many terms has Mike Rogers been in Washington?

Mmmmmm... smells like a big, juicy CYA effort is underway!

Stay tuned for more of Mr. Rogers' self-justifying gymnastics as our state's economy swirls down the drain.

UPDATE: Mr. Rogers has also popped up on the Livingston County Press & Argus website, with slaps at both Henry Waxman and the CEOs of the Big Three.

Monday, October 27, 2008

True Colors

You can tell it's the end of October: the leaves are turning, the days are getting shorter, the frost is on the pumpkin...

... and Mike Rogers is going negative.

Coming soon: the argument that Mike has nothing to do with the recent slimefest mailers going out around the 8th CD, since the mailers were paid for by the (rather nervous!) MI Republican Party rather than the Rogers campaign.

But at the end of the day, long-time incumbents -- especially those with strong ties to the state party apparatus -- know exactly how things work. If Rogers was serious about keeping his campaign on the high road, you can bet he would have communicated this to the MI GOP.

This is just another example of how Mr. Rogers is happy to let others do his dirty work. Last week, we learned about the negative push polling from the "Victory Center" where Rogers' campaign is based; a month ago we were treated to the spectacle of questionably legal pro-Rogers signage in Genoa Township.

Way to demonstrate your ethics and leadership, Mr. Rogers!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Where's Mike?

With the election just around the corner, it's no surprise that Mike Rogers is in the news for his usual blend of evasion and ignoring the voters.

In the "Ignoring the Voters Category," Mr. Rogers broke new ground this week -- he didn't bother to show up at a well-attended candidate forum in Lansing last week.

"People need to hear what the candidates have to say, they need to ask the questions so that they know what the candidate's positions are and the things that personally concern them," Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings says.

[snip] there were also other questions the crowd had for candidates who didn't show up like Congressman Mike Rogers (emphasis added)

Moving right along to "Evasion Expertise," Livingston County radio station WHMI reports that Rogers challenger Bob Alexander is concerned about fake polling calls circulating in the district.

Democrat Bob Alexander of Lansing says voters have been receiving calls from various organizations that claim to be conducting polls. According to recipients, the poll asks questions to establish their party preference, but soon moves directly to a question which, he says, are false allegations. Alexander says the calls are calculated to be inflammatory and in some cases, factually inaccurate. He alleges a call to the Rogers’ campaign confirmed the polling calls are coming from the “Victory Center”, which houses Rogers’s re-election operations.

The classic response from Rogers' spokeswriter?

The Congressman’s spokeswoman Sylvia Warner tells WHMI that "Congressman Rogers' campaign does not discuss any polls the campaign may or may not be doing.”

Once again, someone else does Mike Rogers' dirty work. Then we're treated to the spectacle of Mr. Rogers being shocked, shocked to find that such dastardly things are going on. Somehow, though, he's never shocked enough to do more than grin, shrug and say that he didn't ask for it to be done.

Golly! This is just the kind of leadership we need to solve our nation's problems, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Thrill of the Drill

Guess what? Mike Rogers has an energy plan!

No, the other Mike Rogers (AL-03), who shares a name (and talking points) with Michigan Mike. Alabama Mike's campaign blog describes his energy plan thusly:

Known as the Furthering Renewable Energy and Exploration or FREE Act, the bill would immediately lift the ANWR drilling ban to help increase domestic supplies. [snip] Of course, we won’t drill our way to energy independence. That’s why Mike supports a comprehensive approach to energy - including increased domestic energy production, strong Federal support for American-made renewable fuels, increased use of nuclear energy, and strong support for clean renewable like solar, wind and hydrogen.

Being good Republicans, both Rogers' energy plans have happy words about American-made renewable fuels and research funding... without actually giving specifics on how this will be accomplished.

On the plus side, Alabama Mike's bill is roughly 3 pages long (as opposed to Our Mr. Rogers' 116 page extravaganza)... and it doesn't have a cartoon.

There's no question that The Mikes enjoy the thrill of the drill. It's an issue that they'll squeeze until Election Day, since it's way more fun to talk about than the kajillion-dollar Wall Street bailout.

Speaking of which, a piece in this morning's neatly analyzed the GOP's strategy of pushing the energy issue:

House Republicans have watched their winning issue of drilling take a back seat in the wake of the Bush administration’s $700 billion bailout plan, leaving GOP lawmakers to think of creative ways to highlight energy as they prepare to head back to the campaign trail. [snip]
Republicans have gotten a lot of traction criticizing Democrats on energy. They attracted widespread media attention for their energy protests on the House floor during the August recess, which played a role in forcing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to agree to a vote on a bill that called for offshore drilling.
It would be swell if a little of that media attention could focus on Republican votes that allowed the financial industry to create the mess we're in today. For example, the MSM could discuss Michigan Mike Rogers' "no" vote on last week's Commodity Markets Transparency and Accountability Act , which created tougher regulations for energy commodity markets and cracked down on energy speculation.

Heck, they could even point out the incongruity of Michigan Mike Rogers being shocked, shocked, to find Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae being bailed out on the taxpayers' dime... when he has received $22,750 in campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie, making him the top dollar guy in the Michigan Congressional delegation.

Seems to me that's something worth reporting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sign of the Times

If you really need another example of how Mike Rogers skates on the edge of ethics, look no further than the front page of today's Press & Argus.

In Political billboard stirs concerns, we learn that a few years back, a local attorney donated land to Genoa Township for use as a fire station. As part of his gift, he kept his access to the billboard (which normally shows an American flag), which sits on land between the fire station and the highway. Among the other caveats of his gift: the town has to give back the land if (1) he no longer has access to the sign, (2) if the station is no longer named after him, and (3) if it is no longer used as a fire station.

Not being a real estate lawyer, I can't comment on the details of these restrictions. Being a person with common sense, I can ask what on earth the township was thinking when it accepted this "gift."

The current Town Clerk has concerns about these restrictions, too, and she hit the nail on the head in this morning's article.

Polly Skolarus, Genoa Township clerk, said she's concerned about the appearance of a political sign on township property.

"I don't like the impression that Genoa is supporting Mike Rogers over somebody else," Skolarus said. "It's not that Mike Rogers is not a good person. I don't want it to look like we're supporting one candidate over another."

What does this have to do with Mike Rogers? After all, Rogers' spokeswriter press secretary Sylvia Warner says that Rogers didn't pay for the sign, nor did he request it.

"Based on what's been reported, the man owns the rights to the billboard and he's exercising his First Amendment rights," Warner said.
Hmmm. Well, there's this thing called leadership. There are a few other things called ethics and appearances, too.

It's hard to believe that FBI Guy Rogers is unaware of Michigan's campaign finance laws, which state that "a public body shall not use or authorize the use of property to make a contribution to political campaigns."

Why won't Rogers just pick up the phone and call the guy? He could say, "Gosh, I really appreciate your support, but it puts us all in kind of an awkward position. Would you mind putting the flag picture back up instead?" Heck, even Ms. Warner or Mr. Baltimore could make that call.

Q: Don't you think that Mr. Rogers & Co. would be concerned about these kinds of questions, especially during a competitive election year?

A: They don't really care what you think. Just like when Mr. Rogers took money from Jack Abramoff, gave thousands to Tom DeLay & Bob Ney, voted against the new GI Bill, or voted against children's health insurance

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mr. Rogers: Drill Sergeant?

It was a beautiful day in The Neighborhood for Mr. Rogers yesterday. In front of a very friendly crowd (and an unquestioning press), Livingston County's own Master of Maybe thrilled his audience with a rousing call to drill for oil EVERYWHERE, enhanced with anecdotes about scary foreign bad guys and plucky American oil companies:
He said Russia and Venezuela could be conducting joint naval exercises. He also said Venezuela is planning to purchase submarines, Russia has new missiles that can reach the U.S., and Saudi Arabia is spending $3 billion on new Islamic schools in Indonesia. (emphasis added)
The most frustrating part, Rogers said, is some government regulations that prohibit the country from moving quicker. As an example, he said one company has spent $3 billion over 10 years trying to build a new refinery in Arizona. He said the country needs more refineries, and they would in turn help lower gasoline prices.

"Enough is enough," he said. "Give us everything."

If the U.S. could tap into all of its potential oil reserves, Rogers said, the country could by 2015 generate all of its own oil and not buy a barrel from foreign countries.

Oh, where to begin?

Let's start with the fact that Mr. Rogers has been a member of Congress since 2000. What, exactly, has he been doing about these unpleasant government regulations? Can he identify them? I'm only asking because in 2005, the President of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association gave this testimony at a Congressional hearing:

We would like to say refiners have overcome hurdles to add capacity in the last several years. Despite some comments that have been made here, refiners added in the United States 2 million barrels of capacity between 1995 and 2005, despite considerable hurdles. One of the hurdles was the low return on investment in the industry. Basically, a return on investment in refining was basically running about 51⁄2 percent; when the S&P industrials were averaging about 12 1⁄2 percent.

See, this is what's called a bidness decision, Mr. Rogers. Ain't much profit in building new refineries, and tighter supply means higher prices and bigger profits for the oil companies.

Moving right along, here are a few facts from the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

* Canada remained the largest exporter of total petroleum in July, exporting 2.383 million barrels per day to the United States, which is an increase from last month (2.359 thousand barrels per day).

* The United States produces 10% of the world’s petroleum and consumes 24%.

And an EIA analysis of domestic offshore drilling found that

access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017. (emphasis added)

Once again, Mr. Rogers' creative view of facts is only promoting his own agenda. Our country is in serious trouble, and a "representative" who wilfully ignores reality isn't what America needs.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Methinks the Elephant Doth Protest Too Much

Just when I thought the Livingston County Press & Argus was back to being a good, solid community paper, this morning's editorial reminded me that they are still marching in lockstep with Rep. Mike Rogers' orders.

Earlier this month, the P&A ran a story about opposition to Rogers' energy video from a national Arab-American group, which was concerned about its stereotypical images of swarthy, scary Arabs. It was pretty straightforward news piece, with comments from the group and responses from Rogers.

Since Arab-Americans make up less than 2% of the 8th District, this story didn't get much traction. Pro-Rogers voters automatically dismissed the complaints, and anti-Rogers voters weren't a bit surprised.

It was interesting, then, to see an editorial in today's P&A devoted entirely to defending Mike Rogers' energy video.

The scene in the video that is drawing the ire of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee depicts cartoon versions of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, former Russian leader Vladimir Lenin, and a man wearing an Arab headdress [skip]

Rogers said the particular clip is meant to highlight regimes that are using oil profits to purchase militaries and weapons or to fuel radicalization efforts. "It's to point out that people like Hugo (Chavez) and countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia have taken that money and have done things that aren't in our best interest," Rogers said.

Not to be nitpicky, but Lenin died in 1924. The Soviets had no petroleum industry at that time, and they sure as heck weren't exporting anything (other than revolutionary ideals). Why not show helpfully-labeled pictures of Putin and King Abdullah, if that's who you're trying to identify?

(Silly me! Iconic images of the Red Menace and anonymous Arabs come in handy when the goal is to manipulate emotions.)

It's disappointing that the largest paper in the county is spending its editorial column inches rehashing a story that's nearly two weeks old. The editorial ended with a bit of patronizing advice:

Groups like the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee serve a great and high purpose in our society; however, organizations can run the risk of trivializing real issues when they protest something minor without considering the message as a whole.

This group poses no threat to Mr. Rogers -- or his message -- at all. My guess is that Mr. Rogers is disappointed that his spiffy "Energy Independence Plan" has received zero attention... other than this ADC protest, the only response has been the chirping of crickets.

With the election less than three months away, Mr. Rogers is just itchin' for some press coverage. His buddies at the local paper are happy to oblige, and served up a hot, steaming plate of lo-cal outrage in this morning's paper.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rules Are For Other People

Even though Mr. Rogers is undoubtedly packing his cargo shorts and sandals for a publicity-filled (and content-free) trip to DC next week, he apparently has taken a few minutes to work on his empire building re-election campaign.

Seems that Mr. Rogers sent an email to his constituent Legislative Update list asking if they'd like to receive his campaign emails. (Hat tip once again to Judy at Living Blue for spotting this.) Rules governing the use of constituency email lists vs. campaign emails lists are a little murky. There was some discussion this spring about updating franking privileges into the 21st century, but nothing conclusive.

Speaking of franked mail, I've been hearing about a Rogers franked mail piece that was sent after summer recess, arriving in the District just before the August 5th primary. If you have one, please do scan it and send it to The Neighborhood, along with the date you received it.

For those of our readers who are legal eagles, here's the official description of time frames for franked mail:

6)(A) It is the intent of Congress that a Member of, or Member-elect to, Congress may not mail any mass mailing as franked mail--

(i) if the mass mailing is postmarked fewer than 60 days (or, in the case of a Member of the House, fewer than 90 days) immediately before the date of any primary election or general election (whether regular, special, or runoff) in which the Member is a candidate for reelection (emphasis added)

It's pretty clear that Mr. Rogers is not too concerned with ethics 'n' stuff. We're talking about a politician who maxed out his campaign donations to disgraced (and convicted) former Congressman Bob Ney, as well as disgraced (and first-ever Congressional leader to be indicted) former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Rogers also took money from convicted felon and former uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Funny how a former FBI guy would be so casual about ethics and appearances...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cappafrappahalfcaf Representation

After a few years of living in the 8th Congressional District, I'm used to having a Representative who doesn't show up when he should, and who also shows up where he's not needed, like here and here (oh, and here).

I'll admit I was curious, though, when I read that Rogers' henchman assistant Tony Baltimore will be representing Mr. Rogers at the grand opening of the newest Biggby Coffee in Bloomfield Hills.

This info comes from Bob Fish, CEO of Biggby Coffee and writer of the "Where is Bob?" blog. According to Bob, there will be quite a crowd:

the Lt Gov John D Cherry will be there AND Melanie Brown, Deputy Director of the Southeast Michigan Executive Office to Governor Jennifer Granholm AND Tony Baltimore from Congressman Mike Rogers Office will be attending, along with Bloomfield Hills Township officials and State Representatives, the Oakland County Sheriff Bouchard and so on....

Quite a crowd, indeed!

With times as tough as they are, opening the 100th store of a Michigan-based business is definitely something to celebrate.

It does raise a question, though: if it's important enough for Mr. Rogers to get an invite -- even though Joe Knollenberg, the Congressman who represents that district, doesn't seem to be on the guest list -- then shouldn't Mr. Rogers show up in person?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Money Can't Buy You Love

Judy over at LivingBlue has an interesting post...

Seems that Mr. Rogers was hanging around the Brighton Costco prior to the July 4th parade, trolling for people to march with him.

And he recently sent out a plea for some marching pals to accompany him in this Saturday's Howell Melon Fest Parade.

Astutely as usual, Judy observed:
This guy is a member of the Rogers family, which dominates Brighton-area politics. He is an incumbent member of Congress, well-known in the community, part of the Republican Party, which has thousands of supporters in the county.

And he is still looking for people to march with him in a parade less than 3 months before the election.

Too bad he can't dress up some of that hundreds of thousands of dollars he has raised and let the dollars march for him.
It's true that money can't buy you love. In this case, though, it looks like money can't even buy you a few buddies to walk next to you in public.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Toon Town

The recent flap over Mike Rogers' energy plan -- local and national Arab-American groups are upset with the video's animated portrayal of anonymous, threatening Arabs -- made me wonder why he would spend his money on such a poor-quality vid in the first place.

As expected, Mr. Rogers dismissed the groups as (gasp!) politically-motivated:

Rogers said he questions the motives of the letter's release to his office Tuesday, when primary elections were held. While he did not receive a copy of the letter until Tuesday, Arab-American leaders were speaking out against the video to media outlets as early as July 29.*
Not to brag, but here in The Neighborhood we picked up on the demeaning portrayal (a/w/a the cheesy production values) waaaaaaay back in May:

Moving along to Mr. Rogers' website, we find a perky,
content-free animated (!) version
of The Plan, complete with marching barrels of foreign oil, a green tree snuggled up to an oil derrick, and scary foreign leaders (look out -- it's an Arab!).

Here's the funny thing: I found another Republican exercise in crappy drawing and crude stereotypes!

Thanks to the ever-alert and shiny-maned Princess Sparklepony, you too can peruse the comic book mailed out by incumbent Oklahoma County Comissioner Brent Rinehart.

Toga-wearing gays, political figures, trench coat-clad henchmen, concerned residents and Rinehart make up the rest of the comic's characters.

In one sequence, Satan says: "If I can get the kids to believe homosexuality is normal!"

The angel replies: "Hey Satan, not with Brent around you won't!"
WOW! How can ominous Arab bad guys compete with this kind of offensive stereotype?

Seriously, though, since Mr. Rogers has shared talking points in the past... could this be a harbinger of a tsunami of cheapo GOP election-season 'toons?

It's enough to make one long for the golden days of classic animation, like Johnny Quest and Speed Racer.
*You have to wonder why the reporter didn't ask the logical follow-up:

Mr. Rogers, you were unopposed in the primary. The letter was delivered on the day of the primary -- not the day before. Please explain how this adds up to "politically motivated timing."

Oh, well -- probably just another exercise in Rogers' office putting out a written statement and the local paper printing it verbatim...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Gotcha! Um, never mind...

In an extra-special burst of party loyalty -- and no doubt hoping for a little more national attention -- Mr. Rogers was at his fact-free best today. Amazingly, some political writers are calling him on it.

Wiggling like a kid with a lunchbox full of Twinkies, Rogers sat in on an NRC conference call to mock Barack Obama's crazy, ridiculous, extreme idea.

Seems that Obama suggested that Americans should keep their tires properly inflated to improve gas mileage and save money on gas.


Would it be rude to point out that Mr. Rogers mentions the importance of properly inflated tires on his own website? In addition to handy hints about clean air filters and correct grades of motor oil, he helpfully notes that

You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.

Fuel Economy Benefit: up to 3%

Equivalent Gasoline Savings: up to $0.09/gallon

Correct tire pressure has also been promoted by extreme leftist wackos such as NASCAR and Governor Charlie Crist of Florida.

Over at HuffPo, Sam Stein quotes Rogers opining, a la Eddie Haskell:

"Again, it is one of those very populist things that, instead of being a service as it was intended on sites like mine, it becomes part of his energy policy. And that is a sham on the American public."
The Carpetbagger Report says that the GOP is "practically giddy" at the thought of those wimpy Democrats and their properly inflated tires. They also point out that

In order for an attack to work, it has to be plausible. McCain’s “giddy” toy is a little too stupid to actually work.

A little too stupid?

P.S. Inquiring minds want to know: did Mr. Rogers wear cargo shorts for the call?

Shorts or no, if this is the best the RNC can trot out then this is a clear sign that McCain is in deep kimchee.

UPDATE: Jon Soltz of VetVoice has a reminder that conservation and energy policy are no joke -- they have a very real impact on our national security and our troops.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Too Casual Friday

Mike Rogers is already on summer vacation... he's dressed for it, anyway.

According to the CBS/Politico, Mr. Rogers showed up in a fetching summery ensemble:
Michigan Republican Mike Rogers returned to the House floor in shorts and sandals to take his turn at the podium, as the Republican talkathon continues on the House floor, hours after the chamber formally recessed for the week.

Looking like he was ready for the links in a pair of cargo shorts and a short-sleeve shirt, Rogers said he was preparing to drive back to Michigan when he pulled a U-turn and headed back into town.

"I had gotten in my car to drive home and I realized I didn't have enough money to pay for the first tank of gas," said Rogers.
Oh, where to begin?

Let's leave the whole issue of cargo shorts to the Fashion Police.

We need to ask, though, why someone who makes $165,000 PLUS pension and benefits is poor-mouthing and complaining about the price of gas...

... especially since he voted against cracking down on gasoline price gougers on four separate occasions (H.R. 1252 - 2007, H.R. 6346 - 2007, H.R. 3893 – 2005, H.R. 4568 -- 2004), and he voted against cracking down on oil speculation and energy fraud (HR 4503 – 2004, HR 6 -- 2003).

Anyone out there know if Mr. Rogers actually drives his car back and forth to D.C., or was it just another cutesy Rogers anecdote?

UPDATE: How much does it cost to buy a protest on the floor of the House? Over at Gristmill, David Roberts answers this age-old question. For Mr. Rogers, the price tag is $55,650.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Hobgoblin of Little Minds

... that's how Emerson defined "foolish consistency."

For an example of hobgoblins right here in MI-08, look no further than Mike Rogers' thoughts about privacy.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to vote this week on legislation aimed at creating a nationwide system of electronic health records and protecting patient privacy, but the bill's fate remains unclear, CongressDaily reports.
Some legislators think that patients need more protection, especially in terms of security breaches. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) thinks there should be stronger patient consent provisions, given his concerns about the thousands of complaints about HIPAA violations ignored by the Bush administration. Waxman wants to give state attorneys general the right to sue on behalf of patients whose privacy has been violated.

Mike Rogers, on the other hand, thinks that the bill's patient consent provision is too much of a burden. Funny, that's what he thinks about warrants for wiretaps, electronic surveillance and intel collection without civilian oversight.

Hey, at least he's consistent!

(For a full description of patient privacy bills and their effects, visit

Monday, July 14, 2008

Summer Fiction List

After a few days off (complete with several good volumes of summer fiction), I returned to find an email newsletter from Mr. Rogers. I don't know if there's an award for Boldest Use of Inaccurate Facts, but if there was such a thing I'd be the first to nominate Mr. Rogers!

In the interest of fair play, I'll stick to reviewing the substance of his letter... no comment on the icky earth-tone graphics or run-on sentences found therein.

Each item in the newsletter reflected Rogers' amazing ability to spin the issues. Check out the things he takes credit for when he's back home, and compare it with what he actually did while in Washington:

He's Extending Unemployment Benefits for Michigan Workers!

Despite his repeated insistence that all unemployed folks need is a few hundred dollars' worth of a stimulus check,
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, said Friday that Congress should not spend more on government programs like unemployment compensation, but instead should quickly get the rebate checks into the hands of taxpayers.
Mr. Rogers got a little nervous as spring wore on into summer, since the jobless rate didn't improve with the "stimulus." So he whistled his usual weaselly tune and voted against extending unemployment comp, all the while tossing out a constant stream of excuses to make it sound as though he cared.

He's Fighting Medicare Cuts for Michigan Seniors!

Rogers says that even though he didn't want to see doctors take a 10% cut, he couldn't "support this fix" at seniors' expense.

Well, it wasn't at seniors' expense -- it was a cut to Medicare Advantage, a program that benefits private insurance companies. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that between 2007 and 2017, spending on MA will total $1.5 trillion -- more than 25% of all spending for benefits under traditional Medicare. (Click here for a previous post on the wasteful Medicare Advantage program.)

He's for Energy Independence by 2015!

Mr. Rogers has been pushing HARD on this one -- he's been on WHMI, the Jack Ebeling Show, WXYZ-Detroit... he's even got a cartoon on his website to help 'splain the tricky parts. According to Rogers, the answer isn't conservation, technological innovation, alternative energy or even more efficient cars. Nope, what we need is to drill for oil in right here in America. Never mind that the U.S. Energy Information Administration (home to official U.S. energy statistics) says we won't see anything from the OCS [Outer Continental Shelf] for quite a while:
The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. [snip] For the lower 48 OCS, annual crude oil production in 2030 is projected to be 7 percent higher—2.4 million barrels per day in the OCS access case compared with 2.2 million barrels per day in the reference case (Figure 20). Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.
Translation? It's going to take a while to get this out of the ground. When it does come out, it won't give us too much more than we already have. And it will be sold on the world oil market, which means our production is literally a drop in the bucket -- so no downward pressure on prices.

Oh, Mr. Rogers! Everyone enjoys a good work of fiction during the summer, but that doesn't mean we want to pay you $162,000 a year to tell stories.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mr. Rogers' Next Job?

Politico had an interesting article comparing the happy state of the DCCC under Chair Chris VanHollen (D-MD) with the struggles faced by Tom Cole (R-OK) over at the NRCC:
Since assuming the chairmanship of the National Republican Congressional Committee last year, Cole has inherited a fundraising scandal and has had to deal with a historic wave of retirements. He has also seen traditional donors flee the party in droves.
The current buzz over who should succeed Cole has expanded to include our very own Mr. Rogers:

GOP House members and staff have complained frequently this year that their party lacks an enforcer to keep the team in line when members are acting out or aren’t raising sufficient funds to keep pace with the other side.

Those concerns have led some to float the name of Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers — a man who has shown a willingness to butt heads with colleagues — as a possible successor to Cole. [snip]

Rogers is a powerhouse fundraiser despite the bad environment, contributing more than $200,000 to 61 GOP candidates through his political action committee, $245,000 to the NRCC as a team captain for both the president’s dinner and the Battleground program, and $600,000 along with Sessions and retiring Louisiana Rep. Jim McCrery as part of the fundraising program to help Republicans running against incumbent Democrats or to fill open seats. (emphasis added)

But Rogers’ strength could also be his weakness because many lawmakers resent a colleague who challenges them in public or in private. In addition, his own ambition has centered on the whip post, where bruisers such as former Texas Rep. Tom DeLay have thrived.
Guess that's why Mr. Rogers voted against the GI Bill to help returning combat veterans (and why he didn't show up to vote on the unemployment extension to help Michigan families) -- he was too busy raising $$ to help his fellow GOPers.

Nice to know he's representing somebody in Washington...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Summer Plans

With summer vacation on the horizon, you might think that Mike Rogers was kicking back last week whilst in our nation's capitol.

But no -- Mr. Rogers was really busy. He was voting on some very important bills: things like Medicare improvements, price gouging protection, and AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) relief.

Trouble is, he voted AGAINST these things.

Jeez-o-pete! I'm beginning to think that there's some kind of secret theme park where Rogers and his cronies go for their summer vacations. A place where they can kick back, relax with lobbyist cash and do favors for corporate donors. A place with really good golf courses, shiny flag pins and free shrimp cocktail.

Call it RogersWorld, a place where you can spout about your love of hard-working Americans while blissfully ignoring the needs of actual families.

For some wacky summer fun, let's hop on the RogersWorld shuttle and visit the theme park for out-of-touch members of Congress. Ooh, check out the latest RogersWorld rides!

Medicare Mashup A confusing health care maze, where doctors and hospitals are forced to take a 10.6% cut in payments... but private insurance companies get to keep every Medicare penny (and we all know how Mr. Rogers loooves the boondoggle that is Medicare Advantage). This ride will keep Grammy & Grampy (and you!) busy for hours as they try to navigate the bizarro world of Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, and other convoluted retiree health programs.

Tax Tornado You and 20 million middle-class families will spin helplessly in a vortex of zero relief from the outdated and expensive AMT... while hedge fund managers and oil companies float by without paying their fair share of taxes.

Gas-Gouger Gallery Oil and gas companies take aim at scurrying voters while the price per gallon zooms skyward, racking up record-breaking profits. See, in RogersWorld, the Federal Trade Commission doesn't need to protect taxpayers from price-gouging on gasoline and other fuels. (I do give him credit for consistency on this, though: he's voted against crackdowns on gas price gouging pretty regularly...)

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling pretty queasy after visiting this theme park.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Champion of the Middle Class?

Mike Rogers -- never one to leave a thought unexpressed when an audience is present -- characterization of Barack Obama's economic policies:
"This guy is completely out of touch with the average Michigan family," said Rogers, a Brighton Republican.

Rogers also said that Obama's energy policy proposals would increase taxes on coal & natural gas, and "lead to higher gasoline prices."

Oh, really?

Let's quickly review just how "in touch" Mr. Rogers is with the average Michigan family:

He voted against health care for children of working families

He voted against extending unemployment benefits for families who are weathering Michigan's painful jobless rate.

He has an "energy indpendence bill" with perks for the oil, coal and gas industries, a goofy cartoon on his website, and zippo for controlling skyrocketing gas prices...

... oh, and he's voted against outlawing gasoline price gouging.

Got kids going to college, or in college already? Not only did Mr. Rogers restrict their voting rights, but he also voted against increasing Pell grants, reducing interest rates on Stafford loans and other programs to help middle class families afford a college education.

So the next time you hear Mr. Rogers --

or, more likely, read something his spokeswriter Sylvia Warner has typed up --
be sure to ask exactly what it is that he's been doing to support the average Michigan family.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Courage of his convictions?

Mike Rogers has held firm on his opposition to extending unemployment benefits for hard-hit states...

... sort of.

In yesterday's House vote (234-137), the

Republicans split, with 49 voting in favor and 137 against the extension.

All six of Michigan's House Democrats voted for the extension. Eight of its nine Republicans did as well. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, did not vote.

[emphasis added]

Now, Mr. Rogers votes with the Republican majority 93.2% of the time. He's missed very few votes since arriving in Washington eight years ago (just 1.5% of the votes this session).

One has to wonder why this vote scared him.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

He Works Hard for the Money

Seems as though Mr. Rogers' Energy Independence Plan (a/k/a the Special Interests Bonanza Plan) didn't get the kind of notice our attention-lovin' Congressman had hoped for, so he's found something else to scare you:

Chinese hackers.

Yes, that's right: for all of you Michiganders with the cash and the free time to head over to the Beijing Olympics, Mr. Rogers is verrrry concerned that Chinese cyberbandits will hack your laptop, cell phone or Blackberry. As soon as he and his colleagues were briefed on this, Rogers piped up, happy to share his opinions with WHMI and USA Today among others.

Make no mistake -- cyberattacks are real. They're costly and potentially disastrous. But is this really the topic that should be commanding the majority of Mike Rogers' time and attention?

Considering that a year ago DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff was questioned by Congress on the risks posed by cyberattackers, Rogers was conspicuously silent on this topic until a reporter called him this week for a quote.

Hey, Mr. Rogers! If you're so worried about our national security, why not work on filling all those vacancies at DHS, securing our container ports, or cleaning up the airline passenger watch list?

Oh, I forgot -- you're not on the Homeland Security Committee.

Perhaps you could get the attention you crave by supporting our active-duty service members, instead of voting against them.

You could support unemployed workers in hard-hit states like Michigan, instead of voting against them.

Or even -- this is really zany -- come up with a workable plan for energy independence instead of a marginal animated video, a few slogans and plenty o' taxpayer cash for oil and gas producers.

I shouldn't be so hard on Mr. Rogers, though. He has to hustle for the attention -- the poor guy "only" raised $770, 575 by the end of Q1 (61% of it from PACs).
Mike Rogers sure is working hard for the money. Too bad he's not working for us.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lube Job

Well, we must be getting close to an election, since Mr. Rogers is suddenly popping up EVERYWHERE in the Neighborhood with his new plan for energy independence.

Just in time for him to have something to talk about over the Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Rogers has now seen the light on alternative energy, national security and auto efficiency.

He's made a swell webcast, sent out e-mails, and happy-talked with local media.

The last time he showed any interest at all in the energy problem? Hmmm, let's see... during the 2006 election. Remember Ethanol Guy?

Too bad Rogers' actions in Congress over the past 8 years have made it quite clear that he only views energy policy as a handy campaign tool:

He's voted against investment in domestic biofuels, stopping subsidies for oil & gas industry, tougher CAFE standards, and keeping ANWR oil-rig free.

He's voted for the Bush-Cheney national energy policy, making it easier to permit and build new oil refineries.and

He was rated 17% on energy issues by the Campaign for America's Future; he was rated 100% by the American Coalition for Ethanol (from Project VoteSmart)

Oh, don't forget -- one year ago today, the Neighborhood had a post on Rogers' vote against a bill that would have outlawed gasoline price gouging. And over a year ago, Rogers was trotting out a similar pitch for energy independence that went nowhere.

Let's take a look at H.R. 6161, Mr. Rogers' "Energy Independence Day: July 4, 2015" extravaganza.

14. H.R.6161 : To provide for American energy independence by July 4, 2015.Sponsor: Rep Rogers, Mike J. [MI-8] (introduced 5/22/2008)

Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Energy and Commerce; House Ways and Means; House Natural Resources; House Transportation and Infrastructure; House Rules; House Science and Technology Latest Major Action: 5/22/2008 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means, Natural Resources, Transportation and Infrastructure, Rules, and Science and Technology, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

No co-sponsors. No assignment to subcommittee. No clout to move this along (Rogers fell from 37th most powerful member in 2006 to 274th in 2007). No witnesses, apparently, other than hometown media.

This sounds familiar: you may recall Rogers' 2007 stand "against" the troop surge and the "introduction" of his own alternative bill, apparently in a closet with the light off.

Moving along to Mr. Rogers' website, we find a perky, content-free animated (!) version of The Plan, complete with marching barrels of foreign oil, a green tree snuggled up to an oil derrick, and scary foreign leaders (look out -- it's an Arab!). In the interest of time, we won't discuss the really annoying sound effects or cheap animation.

How about the bill itself? It's 116 pages long, mostly "extensions and modifications" of existing legislation. It's also filled with goodies for Rogers' friends:

OIL & GAS INDUSTRIES: continued tax breaks for the oil & gas industries; they would be able to drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; the Secretary of Energy wouldn't need to identify alternatives to ANWR oil leases or analyze the environmental effects of those alternatives; allow directional drilling underneath protected areas; the ban on offshore leasing and permitting drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf would be lifted.

AUTO INDUSTRY: tax credits for buying new cars, whether or not they fit the new CAFE standards (the auto industry is the 4th biggest contributor of Rogers' career).

NUCLEAR POWER: tax credits for the construction and expansion of nuclear plants; federal coverage of debt obligations incurred by project delays and other items; no environmental impact statement required for temporary spent nuclear fuel storage agreements; check out page 64 for a special little treat: once you get your nuclear reactor, treatment facility or storage facility licensed,
no consideration of the public health and safety, common defense and security, or environmental impacts of the storage of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel generated in reactors licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the past, currently, or in the future, is required by the Department of Energy or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in connection with the development, construction, and operation of, or any permit, license, license amendment, or siting approval for, a civilian nuclear power reactor or any facility for the treatment or storage of spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste.

Got that?

OTHER TREATS: tax credits for buying energy-efficient computer servers (a little bouquet for his legislative pal Anna Eshoo, D-CA and his friends at Lowry Computers (# 3 donor this cycle:$9,200); tax breaks for energy-efficient new homes, no doubt much appreciated by the Associated Builders & Contractors (#2 donor this cycle: $10,000).

I have a hunch that the dollar value of Rogers' industry tax breaks vs. the taxpayer tax breaks would skew pretty hard toward Exxon Mobil & Co. If there are any number crunchers out there, please let me know what you find...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Livingston Gothic

Mike Rogers may have turned his back on the mothers, veterans and unemployed folks here in MI-08, but he was able to rally himself & vote for this week's Farm Bill despite his misgivings:

"I wish it would have been written differently ... but at the end of the day I just felt it was important to take care of those kids and seniors," said Rogers, R-Brighton, who said even his father had "some serious questions for me" about the bill.
Oh, really?

If Mr. Rogers feels so strongly about taking care of kids and seniors, perhaps he can explain why he repeatedly voted against children's health care this session and supported the overpriced and underperforming Medicare Advantage program.

It's unlikely that he supported the bill because it increases access to food stamps for low-income families. Earlier this year, Rogers opined that Michigan families only needed a few hundred dollars' worth of one-time stimulus checks, instead of expanding food stamps or unemployment benefits.

(Hmmm... could it have anything to do with the campaign contributions he's received from agribusiness over the years?)

It must be one heck of a reason, whatever it may be -- it's the first time in memory that Rogers has supported a bill vetoed by President Bush.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Where, Exactly, Is Mike Rogers From?

He says he's from Michigan, but you really have to wonder...

Rogers recently hit a mean-spirited trifecta, topping off a busy week in which he voted against mothers and the military by voting against Michigan's unemployed.

It's not news to anyone that Michigan has the nation's highest unemployment rate. Since 2000, we've lost 350,000 jobs and our median income for households has fallen by 11.9 percent.

At the beginning of this year, Governor Granholm, Senators Levin & Stabenow and five Michigan representatives asked Congress for help with extended unemployment benefits and health care funding. They were trying to get support for our state at a time when people are really hurting -- and they were doing it in a very sensible way. The Congressional Budget Office has shown that extending unemployment benefits is a more effective economic stimulus than cuts in corporate tax rates or temporary tax reductions.

So what did Mr. Rogers do when his Governor, his Senators and his colleagues tried to help the citizens of Michigan? He turned his back on all of us and publicly stated
that Congress should not spend more on government programs like unemployment compensation, but instead should quickly get the rebate checks into the hands of taxpayers.

"We need to help the American people who are hurting by getting money in their hands," Rogers said, saying it will also improve consumer confidence.
Got that? Mike Rogers thinks that a check for a few hundred dollars is all you need to feel more confident. You don't need a job, or affordable health care for your family or any other frills.

Perhaps if Mr. Rogers visited the Eighth Congressional District as often as he does Iraq, he would have a better idea of what he can do to help us.

This toxic combo of inaction and bad attitude isn't exactly what I would call "representative." And it's certainly not worth $162,000 a year (plus gold-plated health insurance).

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rogers Votes Against GI Bill

Last week, we let you know that Mike Rogers voted against honoring the mothers of America.

This week, Mike Rogers voted against the new GI Bill.

Will puppy kicking be next on the Rogers agenda?

Happily, the bill's House supporters carried the day, 256-166; it now moves to the Senate and will likely face a Bush veto after that. Surprise, surprise!

The updated GI bill is sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), a Vietnam vet and former Secretary of the Navy. IAVA has a good summary of why the program needs to be brought into the 21st century:

The current educational benefits offered to veterans are far lower than the original GI Bill. Today, after contributing a nonrefundable $1,200-$1,800 from their first military paychecks, troops can receive a total of roughly $45,000 towards their education. Unfortunately, this covers only 60-70% of the average cost of four years at a public college or university, or less than two years at a typical private college.

In addition, structural problems and bureaucratic delays discourage veterans from using their GI Bill benefits.

Although 95% of veterans pay the nonrefundable $1,200 contribution, only 8% of veterans use their whole benefit and 30% of veterans don’t use their GI Bill at all. These veterans have contributed $230 million to the national treasury, but received nothing in return. [skip]

A 1988 Congressional study proved that every dollar spent on educational benefits under the original GI Bill added seven dollars to the national economy in terms of productivity, consumer spending and tax revenue.
The New GI Bill enjoys the support of the VFW, the American Legion, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Air Force Sergeants Association, AMVETS... the list goes on.

So why isn't it good enough for Mike Rogers? He's happy to explain -- at great length -- how crucial it is for our country to stay in Iraq and fight the Global War on Terror. What's his explanation for voting against a bill that not only provides a direct benefit to our troops, but also will improve retention and recruitment at a time when our armed forces are spread so thinly?

Rogers has made multiple trips to Afghanistan and Iraq on the taxpayer's dime. Each trip brings him back more convinced that things are going well.

Is he spending his time socializing with charming members of the Coalition Provisional Authority and carefully screened active duty personnel?

Whatever he is learning there, it isn't translating to increased support for the men and women of the U.S. military. He's voted against bonuses for active duty troops and housing for military families. He voted to cut veterans' health care by $13.5 billion over five years. He was against extending health care benefits to active duty National Guard and Reserve members. He voted against full retirement and disability benefits for veterans.

Needless to say, national veterans groups aren't too impressed with Mr. Rogers:

* The Disabled American Veterans gave Rogers a zero percent rating in 2004 and 2005

* The Retired Enlisted Association gave Rogers a 33% rating in 2004 and 21% in 2006

* The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association gave Rogers a grade of C in 2006.

Rogers is running for his 5th term this fall. You can bet he'll trot out his "support for the troops" speech any chance he gets, and throw in his "on the ground" experience in Iraq for good measure.

If you happen to hear him, be sure to ask -- loudly, clearly and oh-so-politely -- to explain why he turned his back on our troops once he returned to Washington.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bet There's No Apple Pie, Either!

From our bloggy pals down in Ohio, a post that confirms what you always knew in your heart:
178 Republicans Vote Against Mothers.
First, the Democrats and Republicans voted for HRES 1113 (House Vote 274), which the Washington Post reports was a resolution "Celebrating the Role of Mothers in the United States and Supporting the Goals and Ideals of Mother's Day." This was on May 7, 2008 at 2:19pm. Then, at 2:27pm, a re-vote on the same HRES (Vote 275), 178 Republicans voted against the Mother's Day Resolution.
No kidding.

This is amazing, like a gift from the gods of the internet plopped down in our laps to play with over the summer.

Seriously, though, there is no good way for a politician to answer the question "Why did you vote against mothers?".

An accurate reply might reference some sort of procedural motion ("I voted against tabling it"), but that sounds vaguely like a kid saying he didn't clean his room yet, but he will soon.

Happy Mother's Day from Mr. Rogers & his gang!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Whistle a Happy Tune, or Else

We know that Mike Rogers doesn't really pay much attention to the lives of people living in MI- 08. That much is clear from his voting record, which shows plenty of support for oil companies & not enough for working families. He prefers to stay in Washington, spending his time & energy fundraising on behalf of his fellow Republican pols. When he does come home, it's to raise more money or piggyback onto programs set up and funded by other people.

Well, Mr. Rogers was in town this weekend, rallying the party faithful as the keynote speaker for this year's Lincoln Day Dinner. He manfully held back the tears as he recounted his chat with a group of "dejected" Okemos high school students, who (according to MR) "honestly believed the world was going to combust in 26 minutes." He "was shocked — shocked, and said ‘oh, wow,’ what work do we have to do.’”

Let's leave aside the fact that Mr. Rogers enjoys what could be described as "emotional" anecdotes, which are only tenuously based in reality.

Why, oh why, might high school students be concerned about their country's future?

Could it be the endless war which has claimed 4,000 American lives while enriching no-bid contractors like KBR, whose poor quality work has injured and even killed active-duty service members ?

Or maybe it's the abandonment of our Constitution by Bush and his happy henchmen like Rogers, who have rolled over on FISA, habeas corpus, opposition to torture and other bedrocks of American values.

Perhaps they're concerned about our massive national debt, which has mortgaged their futures and jeopardized our national economic security. How 'bout those record levels of unemployment and home foreclosures, or the skyrocketing prices for food and fuel?

The students at OHS (and their parents) have plenty of reasons to be concerned about our country's future. It's patronizing at best -- and downright idiotic at worst -- for Mike Rogers to natter on about "what work [he has] to do" to get these kids to whistle a happy tune.

Mike Rogers is in the home stretch of his fourth term in Washington. In the majority for the first 3 terms, he agreed to war, torture, debt and corporate welfare. Now in the minority, he's managed to simultaneously whine about (a) how badly the Dems have messed things up and (b) how swell things actually are.

Mr. Rogers certainly DOES have work to do -- he needs to quit with the happy talk, go back to Washington and work to get our country moving in the right direction.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Company's Coming!

The Neighborhood is looking forward to next week's visit by Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio's Senior Political Analyst. Mr. Lessenberry will be at the Howell Opera House on Thursday, May 8 at 7 p.m. The evening is sponsored by two groups that are working to make a difference in Livingston County: Voters' Voice (a nonpartisan organization that organizes and supports local forums to educate and enlighten citizens in Livingston County) and Community Unitarian Universalists of Brighton.

When Ann Coulter came to town last fall, these two groups partnered to do something positive. They invited Jonathan Cohn, the author of Sick, to give a talk about America's health care crisis. The evening raised $1,400 to benefit the new VINA non-profit dental clinic.

Voters' Voice and CUUB are once again working to bring light -- not heat -- to Livingston County. Jack Lessenberry's topic, "Michigan and the election: Are there any surprises in store?" will interest everyone in the Neighborhood.

The added bonus? Enjoy the beautifully restored Howell Opera House!

An Evening with Jack Lessenberry
Thursday, May 8, 2008
7:00 p.m.
Howell Opera House
123 West Grand River
Howell, MI

The public is invited. Admission is free. Donations to defray
costs will be welcomed.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Better Late Than Never

Last week, LivingBlue reported on Mike Rogers' lack of support for the new and much-needed GI Bill (S.22/H.R.5740).

Lo and behold, today the GI Bill website listed Mr. Rogers as a co-sponsor. (Bart Stupak, Pete Hoekstra, Vern Ehlers, Fred Upton, Tim Walberg -- what are you waiting for?)

This is good news. Our troops deserve this support. It's the right thing to do: as a nation, we owe them (and their families) so much for their service. It's also the smart thing to do, as the IAVA website notes:
As our military recovers and resets in the coming years, an expanded GI Bill will play a crucial role in ensuring that our military remains the strongest and most advanced in the world.
Now Mr. Rogers can now turn his attention to more fun things -- like party planning!

The Republican National Congressional Committee wants to raise $7 million at this year's President's Dinner, scheduled for June 18th. The voters of MI-08 will be proud to know that Mr. Rogers has been named a Team Captain for the dinner!

Last year's Team Captains were on the hook to raise $75,000 each... I'm not worried about Mr. Rogers coming up with the cash, though. He's been a champion at raking in the dough since he got to Washington 8 years ago.

He was a record-breaking fundraiser in his 2 terms as NRCC Finance Committee chair. He's consistently raised more than the average House member in each election cycle. His PAC, the "MikeR Fund" ("Majority Initiative --Keep Electing Republicans"), was ranked 17th of 152 Republican leadership PACs in 2006. He founded CHOMP ("Challengers Helping Obtain the Majority Program") after the GOP's losses in 2006. And he's made time to raise money for (and with) all sorts of fellow Congresscritters, including disgraced Congressmen Mark Foley, Tom DeLay and Bob Ney.

See? Mike Rogers is in Washington working really hard! Being busy! Helping people!

Unless of course you are a resident of Michigan's Eighth District, in which case he's too busy to help YOU.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

SCHIP to Shore

There have been lots of posts about the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) here in the Neighborhood, focusing on Mike Rogers' opposition to efforts to expand affordable health insurance for children of working families. (For a refresher, see Bull-SCHIP Excuses, SCHIP of Fools or Let the S-CHIPs Fall).

SCHIP is a joint federal/state program that helps working families purchase affordable health insurance. Please note that it isn't welfare, it isn't a handout, and it isn't socialized medicine. SCHIP has been a success since its start in 1997, and has enjoyed strong bipartisan support. Last year when it was time to renew the program, many legislators wanted to expand SCHIP coverage.

Then along came a vicious little directive from the Bush Administration via the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid:

Under the Aug. 17 directive, states cannot expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program to cover youngsters with family incomes over 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($53,000 for a family of four) unless they can prove that they already cover 95 percent of eligible children below twice the poverty level ($42,400).

Moreover, in such states, children who lose or drop private coverage must be uninsured for 12 months before they can enroll in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and co-payments in the public program must be similar to those in private plans.

This directive was not only an example of pure meanness (forcing children to go without health insurance for a YEAR when switching to SCHIP) and statistical impossibility (there is no way to "prove" that 95% of eligible children are participating - The Urban Institute has a good summary of the methodological issues).

It also smelled like a violation of the 1996 Congressional Review Act, which requires federal agencies to keep Congress informed when they (agencies) change the rules. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and John Rockefeller (D-WV) asked the GAO for a ruling on the legality of the CMS directive, and guess what?

The GAO found that the new policy “amounts to a marked departure” from a longstanding, settled interpretation of federal law. It is therefore a rule and, under a 1996 law, must be submitted to Congress for review before it can take effect, the opinion said.

The Congressional Research Service agreed, finding that "an abrupt change of course requires a rulemaking to substantively alter those practices and relied upon interpretations."

This was reported by the New York Times ("President is Rebuffed on Program for Children"), but by and large the MSM has ignored the story.

Former FBI agent Mike Rogers prides himself on being a law & order kind of guy. He also loves to talk about how he works to protect children. Wonder when he'll fess up to supporting a violation of a federal law -- or to turning his back on the 170,686 uninsured children in our state.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

One Child Isn't Left Behind

A six-year-old boy from Lansing has had a pretty amazing week. Christopher had his first plane ride, his first visit to Washington, D.C., and his first visit to the White House at a reception for Pope Benedict XVI.

How did this happen? Well, the Bush administration allowed (loyal) members of Congress to invite constituents to the papal reception. Mike Rogers chose Christopher, his specialized intensive care therapist and the CEO of St. Vincent Catholic Charities in Lansing to attend as his guests. Rogers has "worked with the agency in the past and 'was very familiar with the work they do with children.'" *

I won't attempt to argue that this is anything but a heart-warming story. The Lansing trio had the experience of a lifetime and no one should begrudge them their adventure.

I will argue, however, that it is a cheap election-year trick on Rogers' part. How else can you explain his very public display of care and concern for one child in light of his voting record on children and family issues during his 4 terms in Congress?

Here are a few recent highlights (lowlights?):

Rogers voted in favor of the FY 2006 budget reconciliation bill that cut mandatory programs by $39 billion. This included cuts to foster care and child support. It also toughened TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) requirements for states, but decreased funding to help states support the new stricter rules. For details, visit

In 2007, Rogers voted against HR 3043, which included $401.41 billion for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and $27.32 billion for the Administration for Children and Families. (data from

The Children’s Defense Fund has given Rogers an average rating of 14 on a scale of 100 over the past five years. And in case you think the CDF is just cranky over budget cuts, think again: since its establishment in 1973, the CDF has not accepted government funding. All of their funds come from foundation grants, corporation grants and individual donations.

Nearly 25,000 Michigan children are in foster care. Some 16% of these children are placed in facilities rather than family foster homes. Christopher is one of these children.

The good news? At age six, Christopher is old enough to remember his amazing adventure --but not old enough to know he was being used as a publicity prop.

* A little digging revealed that the only reference to Rogers and St. Vincent -- other than the oodles of coverage for this particular story -- was on Rogers' own website:

I and my staff are involved in Capital Area Youth Alliance, Youth Development Corp., Arts Council of Greater Lansing, Cristo Rey Community Center, Sparrow Health System Home Care Board, Impression Five Museum, Michigan Children's Trust and Auction Committee, Operation Backpack, U.S. Citizenship Swearing-in ceremonies, Congressional Merit Awards, LCC Foundation Lip Sync fundraiser, Livingston Economic Club, Rotary Clubs and Rotary Lip Sync Fundraiser for Senior Citizens, Charitable Federal Campaign, Capitol Area Migrant Council, St. Vincent Catholic Charities Arty Pizza Party committee, Ele's Place Community Outreach Committee, Hispanic Heritage Month Committee, several area chambers of commerce. [emphasis added]

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Put on Your Party Shoes!

Come on down to Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood (a/k/a Livingston County) and join the Livingston County Democrats for a celebration of 25 years of political work.

The LivCo Dems are hosting their 25th Annual Winans Dinner on Saturday, April 19th at the Hamburg VFW Post 1224, 8891 Spicer Road in Hamburg.

The evening kicks off at 6 p.m.; you'll enjoy a delicious dinner, as well as a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction. To top it all off, the special guest speaker is UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

Tickets are $60 per person. For reservations or more information, call (810) 229-4212 or email

Now, for those of you who may be wondering who Winans was...

Edwin Baruch Winans (1826-1894) had a long and distinguished political career serving both Livingston County and the State of Michigan. Winans, who owned a farm in Hamburg Township, was a Hamburg Township Supervisor and Livingston County probate judge. He was elected to two terms in the Michigan House (1861-1865), and was also a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1867. Winans was the first Democrat elected Governor after the Civil War, serving from 1891-1893.

Take THAT, all you Republicans who think that Livingston County has been Red since the dawn o' time!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mike's Methodology

This morning's Press & Argus featured not one but two stories about Mr. Rogers' speech to the Howell Chamber of Commerce.

On the front page, he disses the Senate bill to help homeowners facing foreclosure, even though he said that helping those families was his "top priority." Inside, he calls for a "new energy outlook".

Both are classic examples of RogersSpeak, adoringly and unquestioningly reported.


So, rather than refuting his many erroneous statements with pesky facts -- yet again -- let's use these stories to distill the basics of Rogers' Rules of Politics.

Rule #1. Always side with your campaign donors. Help out families in foreclosure? Not likely when the Finance and Real Estate sector was your Number 2 donor in '05-'06 and '07-'08, and your top donor in '03-'04.

More drilling for oil in the US? It's a great idea, especially when the Energy and Natural Resource sector were your #5 donor in '03-'04, #4 in '05-'06, and #3 in '07-'08.
(All figures from .) Oh, and don't forget that Rogers was the ONLY member of the Michigan Congressional delegation to support drilling in the Great Lakes.

Rule #2. Ignore the needs of your constituents. Just because Michigan continues to lead the nation in joblessness, why should you support efforts to extend unemployment benefits and state health care programs? When it comes to helping Michigan families who face foreclosure, say that it's your "top priority" but don't actually do anything about it. Double bonus points for loudly criticizing legislation that other people have crafted without actually coming up with anything of your own. (See "troop surge" for double bonus points in action.)

Rule 2a.) Better yet, sneer at your state's efforts to help people:
Some states, such as Michigan, are already having a hard enough time managing their finances, Rogers said, let alone selling homes. "I just think it's a disaster waiting to happen," he said.
Rule 2b.) Sneer at other states' efforts to help, especially if California is the state in question.
"California would still be allowed to design American cars, and the only thing worse than that is to have Congress designing our cars," Rogers said in a statement. "American families ought to decide what cars they want to drive, not the state of California where extremism continues to damage the manufacture of American cars and hurt American workers."
Rule #3. Cite incorrect or outdated information in support of your position. Repeat as needed. This is particular favorite of Mr. Rogers', as shown during the S-CHIP debacle last fall. In today's story on the foreclosure bill, Rogers said that the bill "would, for the first time, allow bankruptcy judges to alter homeowners' mortgages." No, it doesn't. That provision was dropped when the Senate forged the bipartisan compromise bill currently under discussion.

Rule #4. When these tactics don't work, call for reform. Be sure to gloss over the fact that you're a multi-term incumbent who helped to create many of the policies that aren't working... This is a fave Rogers tactic, especially when it comes to national security issues. Triple bonus points when you combine national security and energy policy in a froth of righteous indignation.

Counter-intuitive? You betcha! But it's worked well for Mr. Rogers.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Words v. Deeds: Mike Rogers on Education

Today's Press & Argus has a story titled "Students communicate across the globe at Rogers-hosted forum." A World History class at Pinckney Community High School was able to have real-time conversations with students in Bilda, Algeria thanks to a very cool MSU program called E3LINK. The program is partnering with several schools in the state to develop cultural exchanges with Algerian students.

So other than the photo & story title, what did Mike Rogers have to do with this? Well, it seems that Rogers was in Algeria recently. While there in his capacity as IntelGuy, he took time out from his terrorist-fighting responsibilities and
learned Algerian high school students were communicating online with students in his district while traveling in Algeria last year on behalf of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. [skip]
[Rogers] spent time with students while in Algeria, [and] said youth there are fascinated with Western culture, namely American students' access to technology at school and interests in music, film and fast food.
Translation? While boondoggling his way across North Africa, Rogers decided that a stop at a local high school was more fun -- and waaaay less dusty -- than tromping around talking to local intel guys.

Apparently, this program was already up and running by the time Rogers came across it. So how, exactly, did he "host" this chat? Did he bring the donuts? We know he brought a photographer...

This isn't the first time Mike Rogers has worked an angle and taken credit for someone else's efforts.

Even sadder is the fact that innovative educational programs like E3LINK have to fight for survival against legislators like Rogers, who has hardly been a champion of education:

* 17% rating from the NEA

* voted NO on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects. (Nov 2007)

* Voted NO on $84 million in grants for Black and Hispanic colleges. (Mar 2006)
(stats from On The Issues)

There have been posts on this site about Rogers' lack of support for education; others (including Jack Lessenberry) have noted how Rogers maneuvered to shut college students out of voting where they go to school -- helpfully yanking all those Dem-voting MSU students out of the way during his first run for Congress.

Bottom line? Mike Rogers is once again taking credit for other people's work.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Invisible Hand Makes a Rude Gesture

Well, it looks like I was wrong: Mr. Rogers actually did set foot in the district last week.

After his interesting stab at "talking" to voters on WHMI (a radio town hall, which ensured Rogers wouldn't have to be in the same room as unscreened constitutents), the Press & Argus' Mike Malott noted that Our Republican congressman from Brighton dropped by the offices of the Daily Press & Argus last week to chit-chat about a variety of topics.

The "chit-chat" got off to a jolly start with Mr. Rogers' ideas about health care (!) and the presidential race. Things took a turn for the indignant, though, when the topic turned to the auto industry and alternative energy.

Seems that last year's changes in CAFE standards (which Rogers considered an effort to "make a fat guy skinny by mandating smaller pant sizes") have really offended Mr. Rogers' free-market sensibilities:

If pollution from our internal combustion cars is threatening to cause global warming, Rogers said, the better solution would be to let car companies innovate our way out of the problem.

Hmmmm. Fair enough. Some car companies HAVE innovated their way out of the problem, which is why there's a waiting list for Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrids.

[The Prius, as you may recall, is a vehicle which irks Mr. Rogers to no end. When the 2007 energy bill was delivered to the White House in a Prius -- currently, it's the only vehicle that meets the new CAFE standards -- Mr. Rogers called it a slap in the face. And he called it a "pregnant roller skate" in this morning's Freep. What is it about this tiny car that so gets under Mr. Rogers' skin?]

But wait -- how can Mr. Rogers be an advocate for zero Congressional interference in auto and energy policy AND at the same time push for billions of taxpayer dollars in research subsidies?

This doubletalk isn't anything new. Late last year, Rogers was cranky about a Californian bill to regulate auto emissions
"California would still be allowed to design American cars, and the only thing worse than that is to have Congress designing our cars," Rogers said in a statement. "American families ought to decide what cars they want to drive, not the state of California where extremism continues to damage the manufacture of American cars and hurt American workers."
Wow! A statement like that gets high-five from the invisible hand!

That high-five turns into a slap upside the head when you see how much taxpayer money Mr. Rogers has thrown at the auto and energy industries over the years, including $20 billion for a proposed "green technology incentive program," ethanol subsidies, oil & gas tax breaks...

Here's another thing: when the Big Three were trying desperately to meet with President Bush in the summer of 2006, Mr. Rogers didn't lift a finger to help them. He even said to the Free Press, "I have always been a little bit amazed at the lack of prowess of the Big Three in Congress."

SUMMARY: Complain when Congress sets guidelines for industry, but nod vigorously when Congress doles out federal $$ to those industries. Take money from those industries, then crack wise when they need your help.

Don't laugh -- this strategy has been working for Mike Rogers over the past 8 years!