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.