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.