Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who You Gonna Call?

Mike Rogers is quite upset about the recent decision to move some Guantanamo detainees to the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois.

How upset, you ask?

Well, perhaps Dr. Peter Venkman and his colleagues best describe Mr. Rogers' anguish.

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"? [skip]
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria.

Mr. Rogers hasn't risen to quite the same level of drama... but he's close:
Obama's decision was criticized by U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, who called it a "dangerous gamble."

"Terrorists with one mission in life, to kill Americans and destroy America, do not belong in state prisons, no matter whether it is Michigan, Kansas, Illinois or any other state," Rogers said.

Apparently Mr. Rogers has no confidence in federal law enforcement and corrections personnel.

Nor does he seem to know that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, there are already 216 international terrorists and 139 domestic terrorists housed in maximum security facilities, some of whom have been there since the 1990s. Fred Kaplan of Slate Magazine wrote about these prisoners back in the springtime, and he could have been talking about Mr. Rogers (or his heart-palpitatin' colleague Pete Hoekstra) when he wrote this:

Maybe these people don't understand what life is like in these "supermax" prisons. Take ADX Florence, the supermax in Colorado—"the Alcatraz of the Rockies"—that serves as the home to Omar Abdel-Rahman, the "blind sheikh" who organized the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the Sept. 11 plotters; Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber; Theodore Kaczynski, the "Unabomber"; and Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City bombing, to name a few.

These are all truly dangerous people, but it's not as if they run into one another in the lunch line or the yard. There is no lunch line; there is no yard. Most of the prisoners are kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. For one hour, they're taken to another concrete room, indoors, to exercise, by themselves. Their only windows face the sky, so they have no way of knowing even where they are within the prison. Phone calls to the outside world are banned. Finally, the prison is crammed with cameras and motion detectors. Compartments are separated by 1,400 remote-controlled steel doors; the place is surrounded by 12-foot-high razor-wire fences; the area between the wire and the walls is further secured by laser beams and attack dogs.

Got that?

Mr. Rogers has spent nearly a decade on the House Intel Committee; he's also a former FBI agent. You;d think that his national security expertise would outweigh his political concerns.

Unfortunately, that's not the case.

Rogers' main contribution to our nation's security? That would be his tireless efforts to predict doooooooom in front of any available microphone or tv camera. He pitched a fit about Mirandizing terrorists -- and pretty much called the Director of the FBI and General David Petraeus liars. He blamed Congress for not paying attention to Iran's nuclear buildup, conveniently forgetting that he is IN Congress and has been on the House Intel Committee since he was first elected in 2000. He got in a lather about the decision to discontinue the Eastern European missile defense shield, but he still hasn't asked those "very tough questions" he promised.

Mr. Rogers is unstinting in his efforts to get good media coverage -- but when it comes to the hard work of making sure our country is safe, he's kind of a marshmallow.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rogers continues to deny the fact that global warming is a fact on behalf of Big Oil masters

After some nine years of Mike Rogers in Congress, the only thing we know for sure about the Brighton Republican is that he toes the GOP line until its no longer popular to dos so. His press release on the stolen emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia that critics have dubiously claimed undermine the scientific consensus on climate change is just one more example.

Rogers backed every single Bush position until the approval ratings of the worst president in U.S. history plunged like a rock, and Rogers abandoned him like a rat from a sinking ship. Now, he has sunk to the role of just criticizing and blocking every solution to the problems his party created.

His press release printed almost verbatim in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus is parroting the rightwing lie that global warming is a hoax. “He joined fellow congressional Republicans who raised questions about leaked e-mails from the researchers.”

First, they were not “leaked e-mails” they were stolen. Global warming deniers are basically taking one word out of context among 13 years of personal emails to prove their point. They ignore all the data from other agencies, like NASA, to make their case.

For years, thousands of scientists working at climate research centers throughout the world have carefully and rigorously reached a consensus on the extent of climate change, the urgency of the problem, and the role of human activity in causing it. A few distorted e-mail exchanges do not change that consensus.

In fact, last month Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, supported that claim: "There's nothing in the e-mails that shows that global warming is a hoax. ... There's no funding by nefarious groups. There's no politics in any of these things; nobody from the [United Nations] telling people what to do. There's nothing hidden, no manipulation. It's just scientists talking about science, and they're talking relatively openly as people in private e-mails generally are freer with their thoughts than they would be in a public forum. The few quotes that are being pulled out [are out] of context. People are using language used in science and interpreting it in a completely different way."

Rogers is a very good friend of big oil, and, in fact, he voted against ending taxpayer-funded subsidies for Big Oil and creating a Strategic Energy and Renewables Reserve. Is it any surprise he is a global warming denier? The right-wing groups leading the charge in attacking the science are the same old Big Oil-backed naysayers and their allies in Congress -like Rogers- who have been attacking climate science and fighting clean energy for decades.

The U.S. Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency have identified climate change as a threat to our national security and have developed specific efforts to combat climate change.

The real indicator is the results of global warming. How to you ignore or lie that away?

According to a recent article by the Associated Press, “Since 1997 climate change has worsened and accelerated – beyond some of the grimmest of warnings made back then.”
The world's oceans have risen by about an inch and a half.

Droughts and wildfires have turned more severe worldwide, from the U.S. West to Australia to the Sahel desert of North Africa. Species now in trouble because of changing climate include, not just the lumbering polar bear which has become a symbol of global warming, but also fragile butterflies, colorful frogs and entire stands of North American pine forests. Temperatures over the past 12 years are 0.4 of a degree warmer than the dozen years leading up to 1997. Even the gloomiest climate models back in the 1990s didn't forecast results quite this bad so fast.

Scientists have uncovered a large expanse of "corrosive" water in the Canadian Arctic due to carbon pollution that is putting the marine food web at risk. "Unprecedented" rainfall in the United Kingdom has led to flooding of "biblical proportions" – a predicted consequence of global warming. "Unprecedented" heat, drought, and winds are causing "catastrophic" wildfires to sweep across eastern Australia – a predicted consequence of global warming.

The 2000s are on track to be nearly 0.2°C warmer than the 1990s. And that temperature jump is especially worrisome since the 1990s were only 0.14°C warmer than the 1980s. The world’s glaciers shrink for the 18th year. According to the University of Zurich ’s World Glacier Monitoring Service report in 2006 and 2007 the world’s glaciers lost 2 meters (2000 mm) of thickness on average. They note, “The new data continues the global trend in accelerated ice loss over the past few decades.” The rate of ice loss is twice as fast as a decade ago. Greenhouse gases, which are believed to be responsible for global warming, reached record highs in the Earth’s atmosphere in 2008, according to the U.N. weather agency.

The simple fact is Global Warming is real, and a few words taken out of context from thousands of stolen emails cannot change that fact. Even if you wanted to impeach the results from the CRU at the University of East Anglia, there are plenty of other respected scientists above reproach who hold the same position reached by independent and undisputed research and data. Here are a few:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Global warming of the climate system is unequivocal and most of the observed increase in global temperatures since the mid-20th century is due to human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.

National Academy of Sciences: Even if carbon dioxide emissions were halted today, the world would continue warming with “irreversible” effects — including rising temperatures and sea levels—that will last for a millennium.

American Association for the Advancement of Science: The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society.

U.S. Global Change Research Program: Global temperature has increased over the past 50 years. This observed increase is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases.

American Physical Society: Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes. The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

American Meteorological Society: Despite the uncertainties noted above, there is adequate evidence from observations and interpretations of climate simulations to conclude that the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; that humans have significantly contributed to this change; and that further climate change will continue to have important impacts on human societies, on economies, on ecosystems, and on wildlife through the 21st century and beyond.

American Geophysical Union: The Earth’s climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. Many components of the climate system—including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons—are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century. . . . Evidence from most oceans and all continents except Antarctica shows warming attributable to human activities.

American Quaternary Association: Few credible scientists now doubt that humans have influenced the documented rise in global temperatures since the Industrial Revolution.

The national science academies of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa: It is essential that world leaders agree on the emission reductions needed to combat negative consequences of anthropogenic climate change at the UNFCCC negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009.

A group of 18 leading scientific organizations recently sent a letter to Senators affirming that climate change is happening.

Monday, November 2, 2009

PAC Man, Part 2

In case you needed more evidence that those who give big bucks are, unsurprisingly, the same ones who get big favors...

USA Today has a story on the lobbying $$ spent by FedEx and UPS, and how our own Mike Rogers has enjoyed quite a bit of that shipping cash. Seems that UPS told Lansing's Capital Region International Airport that it wanted longer runways, and they were willing to grease the wheels to get it.
Among recipients from the UPS PAC was Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich. He received $4,800 in contributions on March 19, 2007, CQ MoneyLine records show. Three days earlier, Rogers wrote a letter to House leaders seeking an earmark for Capital Regional International Airport, his local airfield.

Capital Region got $3.5 million that fiscal year for the runway extension. In 2006, Rogers got $3 million for the same project, his spokesman Sylvia Warner said.

UPS spokesman Michael Mangeot said there is no connection between Rogers' earmarks and the $45,000 in campaign contributions UPS' PAC has given Rogers since 2005 — the maximum donation allowed by law. He called the timing of the contributions in March 2007 "coincidence." (emphasis added)

Reuters followed up on the story, reporting that the Public Campaign Action Fund (PCAF) had done a bit more digging:

Public Campaign Action Fund (PCAF) has discovered that earlier that month, on March 5th, UPS lobbyist Robert Dotchin donated $500 to Rep. Rogers - the only such gift from Dotchin since Rep. Rogers began running for Congress in 2000.Public Campaign Action Fund (PCAF) has discovered that earlier that month, on March 5th, UPS lobbyist Robert Dotchin donated $500 to Rep. Rogers - the only such gift from Dotchin since Rep. Rogers began running for Congress in 2000. [skip]
PCAF found that Rep. Rogers' leadership PAC, MIKE PAC, has received $30,000 more, for a total of $75,000 from the UPS PAC, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. (emphasis added)

The next time you hear Mr. Rogers moaning about how federal money is being wasted in Livingston County, ask him if he's interested in sending some of that private-sector lobbyist money our way... it really gets results!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


CQ Politics has a story today about leadership PACs shelling out in contested Senate primary races. Leadership PACs, as you probably know, are organized by members of Congress; they enjoy higher limits on donations than do individual donors -- $10,000 per cycle, instead of $4800.

Mike Rogers has his own leadership PAC, appropriately titled MIKE R Fund (Majority Initiative to Keep Electing Republicans). This fund brought in over half a million dollars in 2008, and it is cranking along nicely for the 2010 cycle.

This year, Mr. Rogers' PAC has already shelled out for GOP House members (including Thad McCotter, Joseph Cao, and -- no lie! -- Joe Wilson), Kansan GOP Senate candidate Todd Tiahrt and the Michigan Republican Party. Also on the spending list: pricey Miami Beach hotels and D.C. tapas restaurants. Hey, raising money is hard work...

And where is all this money coming from? Unsurprisingly, the guy with over five million YouTube hits for his anti-health care reform video has raised the majority of his PAC dollars from pharmaceuticals, health products and health professionals.

It's clear that Mr. Rogers is a very gifted fund raiser. I say this without any snark-- he's really good at it! It would be nice, though, if he spent a little bit of that energy and creativity on the people in MI-08.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Patriot Games

TPM is reporting that the NRCC has decided to limit its next Patriot Program group to five incumbents, down from the original 10.

Mike Rogers has energetically co-chaired the NRCC incumbent retention program and spent quite a bit of time raising $$ for the chosen Patriots.

Has he not been working hard enough? Perish the thought, according to an NRCC aide:
"The political environment has shifted, and there just aren't five more vulnerable Members who are really in need of assistance or facing a credible challenge," an NRCC aide told the paper. "That money would be better spent by directly transferring money to the committee and on assisting the large number of challenger candidates looking to oust a Democrat incumbent."
A somewhat more clear-eyed analysis came from TPM.
Another way of looking at it is this: The Republicans got cleaned out in 2006 and 2008. With the exception of some open swing seats where usually safe GOP incumbents are retiring, there's not too much left that the GOP has a serious chance of losing.
Either way, it looks as though Mr. Rogers will have some extra time on his hands. Think he'll get around to paying attention to Michigan's interests in Washington?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Very High Double Standards

The Neighborhood is admittedly a small blog; we focus on one Congressional district that's spread out over bits & pieces of five different counties (not to mention three different media markets), "represented" in Washington, D.C. by Mike Rogers.

Well, the 'Hood got some national attention last week, when the story about insurance industry donations to Mr. Rogers was picked up by The Sunlight Foundation's "Local Sunlight" columnist.

OK, enough bragging.

Back here in the Mitten, the Lansing State Journal's Derek Melot has a nifty little blog post describing one of the sweet health care perks that Mr. Rogers receives courtesy of us taxpayers: The Office of the Attending Physician (OAP), a full-service health center.
Members of Congress do not pay for the individual services they receive at the OAP, nor do they submit claims through their federal employee health insurance policies. Instead, members pay a flat, annual fee of $503 for all the care they receive. The rest of the cost of their care, sources said, is subsidized by taxpayers.
Earlier this year, the Neighborhood brought you the details of Mr. Rogers' health insurance plan -- also paid for with our tax dollars -- and compared it to the costs and benefits available to a Michigan family purchasing the cheapest MI BC/BS individual plan. It would be kind of funny if it weren't so unfair.

So between paying for his premiums with pretax dollars and having a personal physician on-call in the Capitol, you have to wonder how Mr. Rogers can keep a straight face when he rants about "socialist health care." As an adult, his health insurance coverage has been provided by taxpayers (U.S. Army, the FBI, the Michigan legislature and U.S. Congress). Given his early bout with bladder cancer, it would be instructive for him to go looking for individual coverage and see just what he would be shelling out for a basic plan...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Don't Know Much About History

Despite his many obligations to the NRCC -- protecting incumbent Republican members -- and his latest job serving as John Boehner's liaison to GOP governors, Mr. Rogers apparently has the time to offer up a misty-eyed, breathtakingly inaccurate version of American history.

His latest YouTube special kicks off with a quote from Benjamin Franklin (sort of),
Those who would sacrifice liberty for a little safety and security deserve neither liberty nor security.
Mr. Rogers then explains that Franklin said this "before the Constitution, before the Revolutionary War," when Franklin was "the Finance Chair of the Pennsylvania state legislature." Oh, really?

Mr. Rogers might benefit from reading the Memoirs of the Life of Benjamin Franklin for a more detailed explanation of the legal issues Franklin was discussing (including the Massachusetts Bay Colony's desire to submit a separate petition to Parliament rather than jointly petitioning with the other colonies).

Mr. Rogers' take on American history continues with a reference to the Great Depression. After rhapsodizing about the national ideal of fairness, which in RogersSpeak translates as "people who work hard and play by the rules shouldn't have to pay for other people who don't do those things," he goes on to say
We have agreed that a safety net is a good idea. So you think about it, the Great Depression, over 30% unemployment for years, the poverty level in the United States was staggering, but we didn't give up. We didn't say, "you know what, it's too hard, the federal government should do it for us." We didn't do that.
Wait, what? Has Mr. Rogers never heard of the WPA, TVA, FDR or Social Security?

Moving right along, Mr. Rogers notes
World War II, when they were rationing sugar and rubber tires, we didn't give up. And that spirit, that ember of fairness on behalf of the American people has led to the greatest nation on the face of the earth, because it's individual responsibility, it's people getting up everyday and thinking, "I can do this better, faster, quicker, the speed of business, I can take care of my family, let the government take care of something else."
Sorry, Mr. Rogers -- the "they" that organized rationing to support the war effort was, in fact, the federal government. And the American people responded to calls for shared sacrifice during wartime -- a lesson you forgot (or ignored) when you voted to support tax cuts for the wealthy during the Afghan and Iraq wars. Oh, and the U.S. government not only worked to win the war, but helped to rebuild Europe and Japan for greater postwar security and a stronger global economy.

In his peroration, Mr. Rogers links the "burning ember" of American national spirit and Bejamin Franklin with the angry ranters of the Tea Party Express. He enthuses about the GOP health care plan, which would "control costs, improve access, do all those things without the federal government stepping in." We're still waiting for a bill number, Mr. Rogers. (Plus, we'd love to know why Mr. Rogers does not consider the United States House of Representatives to be a part of the federal government...)

Now that he's an official lover of American history, party loyalist Rogers might find some modern-day resonance in this quote from Benjamin Franklin:
As in the course of the debate, some lords in the administration had observed, that it was common and easy to censure their measures, but those who did so proposed nothing better.
Nah, never mind...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Money Talks, Congress Listens

Over at Open Secrets, there's a great article on insurance industry donations to House Energy & Commerce Committee members.

Committee Chair Henry Waxman told 52 insurance companies that they had to disclose their financial records, including executive pay, entertainment expenditures and, oh yes, political donations.
Here are the current members of the House Energy and Commerce to collect the most from the 52 insurers required to respond to Waxman's request, including contributions to the lawmakers' leadership PACs and candidate committees back to 1989:

Name Total

Roy Blunt (R-Mo) $204,428
John D Dingell (D-Mich) $154,600
Nathan Deal (R-Ga) $150,600
Mike Rogers (R-Mich) $109,800
Henry A Waxman (D-Calif)$106,500
Bart Stupak (D-Mich) $94,750
John Shadegg (R-Ariz) $94,250
Joe Barton (R-Texas) $84,350
Lee Terry (R-Neb) $84,300
Phil Gingrey (R-Ga) $83,770
Tim Murphy (R-Pa) $81,700
Fred Upton (R-Mich) $78,300
John M Shimkus (R-Ill) $73,750
Bart Gordon (D-Tenn) $73,550
Jim Matheson (D-Utah) $72,500
What's impressive (in a bad way) is that Mike Rogers didn't get elected until 2000 -- yet he's managed to scoop up enough insurance industry cash to come in fourth at the trough.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pop-Up Video

Remember VH-1's "Pop-Up Video" series that ran in the late 90s? As the music video was playing, little bubbles ("info nuggets") would pop up on the screen, a mix of snark and trivia.

I really wish that I could do that for Mike Rogers' latest YouTube video... but National Journal has done the next best thing:
With so many people looking to the video for their health care arguments, how true are Rogers' main points about H.R. 3200 and the debate in general?
National Journal fact-checks Rogers' statements on disenrolling individuals and cancer survival rates. They'll follow up with an interview with Rogers, to be posted next week.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hell is, in fact, freezing over.

Once again, a conservative blogger has done a great job of calling out Mr. Rogers for his, um, flexible approach to policy. Earlier this summer, The Right Stuff took him to task over his earmarking habits...

and now Debbie Schlussel has named him the Hypocrite of the Day:
U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) sent out press releases telling everyone and their mother that, yesterday, he was in Israel speaking at a conference on terrorism.

But, with blowhard Rogers – a conservative – as the keynote speaker, perhaps the “World Summit on Counter-Terrorism, ” should change its name to “World Summit on Counter-Terrorism and Phony American Congressmen Who Blew It.” Rogers needs to shut his mouth, stay Stateside, and actually do something on terrorism. Problem is, he’s all talk and ZERO action. [skip]

Ironically, Rogers’ speech was on “Where America Stands Eight Years Into Its War on Terror.” Hilarious. In no small part because of Rogers’ negligence, American stands no better–in fact, far worse–than it did eight years earlier.

Wonder if the speech was subtitled, “Do As I Say, Not As I Do.”

Now, it's pretty likely that Ms. Schlussel and and I don't quite see eye to eye on a lot of issues, but we both agree that Mr. Rogers' brand of bull is bad for our country's security.

Excuses, excuses

A neighbor sent me the link to the Channel 4/Flashpoint Roundtable video, featuring a health care discussion with Congressmen Rogers, Thad McCotter, John Dingell and John Conyers.

The show leads off with Rogers, flush from a few million hits off his YouTube video. Mr. Rogers states that "we've got a great list of ideas... the problem is that we've never been involved, we've never been invited into the negotiations at the White House, we've never been involved in negotiations in the committee..."

[Who knew that Mr. Rogers had such fragile self-esteem? Not being invited to lunch at the White House seems to have damaged him to such an extent that he almost didn't participate in his Energy & Commerce Committee's health care discussion... he pulled himself together in time to insert a logic-defying amendment that had nothing to do with lowering costs, improving quality or increasing access. Then he voted against the E&C bill.]

At that point, Mr. Conyers asks for the number of the bill that Mr. Rogers is describing.


Here in the Neighborhood, we know that Mr. Rogers is an inspiring speaker, unafraid to let his emotional anecdotes fly free of pesky facts. Apparently, Mr. Conyers was unaware of this, and pressed his fellow legislator for details of Rogers' efforts to turn the rosy picture of GOP health care proposals into actual legislation.

Okay, so Mr. Rogers doesn't have a bill number. Or he couldn't remember it. Whatever. With the help of repetition, a few hearty assurances and a compliant host, Mr. Rogers never had to answer Mr. Conyers' question.

Enough already. Everyone needs to understand what is at stake here in the 8th Congressional District:
America’s Affordable Health Choices Act would provide significant benefits in the 8th Congressional District of Michigan: up to 15,100 small businesses could receive tax credits to provide coverage to their employees; 7,600 seniors would avoid the donut hole in Medicare Part D; 1,700 families could escape bankruptcy each year due to unaffordable health care costs; health care providers would receive payment for $53 million in uncompensated care each year; and 49,000 uninsured individuals would gain access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.
Everyone, including Mike Rogers.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Echo Chamber

Just when we thought Mr. Rogers had totally bailed on talking with his constituents over the August break, we find that he only partially bailed -- he held a "tele-townhall" limited to "randomly" selected residents of the 8th Congressional District.

This isn't the first time Rogers has chosen a controlled environment to avoid tough questions.

According to the Press & Argus, Mr. Rogers told his listeners that
they will lose their private health care or Medicare benefits if proposed health-care reforms become law. [skip] Rogers said the bill would dash Medicare Advantage plans that can include prescription drug coverage, among other options.
Statements like this really can't be called anything but deliberate deception.

Rogers is using a ridiculously lawyered-up interpretation of H.R. 3200 to scare his constituents and keep his political donors happy. For a point-by-point refutation, visit

Note that Mr. Rogers is awfully attached to Medicare Advantage (MA), the private plan that covers roughly 18% of Medicare beneficiaries -- yet costs taxpayers an average of 12% more than traditional Medicare. For the retirees who choose a Medicare Advantage private fee for service plan (PFFS), the cost is 19% higher.

Who thinks MA is a good idea? Probably the insurers and pharmaceutical companies which have seen their "government-sponsored medical programs" profits increase dramatically over the past few years, more than making up for losses in the employer-based insurance market.

Stop the lies, Mr. Rogers. Your district is in trouble. Choose to help your constituents
America’s Affordable Health Choices Act would provide significant benefits in the 8th Congressional District of Michigan: up to 15,100 small businesses could receive tax credits to provide coverage to their employees; 7,600 seniors would avoid the donut hole in Medicare Part D; 1,700 families could escape bankruptcy each year due to unaffordable health care costs; health care providers would receive payment for $53 million in uncompensated care each year; and 49,000 uninsured individuals would gain access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.
instead of the industries that fund your political activities.

(cross-posted at Michigan Liberal)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fan Fiction

The YouTube video of Mike Rogers' opening statement on health care has been popping up on quite a few conservative blogs lately, as posters excitedly swoon over his "common sense" stance on health care reform.

There's no question that Mr. Rogers is a persuasive speaker. He has a friendly demeanor and an ordinary-guy style; he's known for his use of heart-tugging emotional anecdotes to make a point.

The only problem? All that emotion camouflages a lot of bad information.

Mr. Rogers is openly skeptical of government's role in health care
The very innovation of who we are is what got us here, and it wasn't the federal government and it wasn't Washington, D.C.
Where is the "here" that this swell innovation has brought us? "Here" is where an American Journal of Medicine study found that 62.1% of all bankruptcies in 2007 were caused by medical problems. Three-quarters of those declaring bankruptcy for medical reasons had health insurance. Most were well-educated home owners with middle-class occupations.

Yet Mr. Rogers continues to rail against the dark results of government involvement:
They can actually go in and unenroll individuals -- unprecedented power... They can rip you off your own invididual plan. They can disenroll your whole company off a certain plan.
That sounds pretty awful... until you realize that private insurance companies already unenroll individuals and companies without their consent.

This is called rescission, and it is still legal for private insurers to unenroll members without warning.

Rescinding thousands of policyholders a year enabled California insurers to save millions of dollars. Health Net Inc., for example, figured that it avoided $35 million in medical expenses over six years. The loss of coverage left individuals awash in medical bills and without healthcare when they needed it most, and it left many hospitals and physicians with uncollectable debt. (emphasis added)

Mr. Rogers has spoken openly about being diagnosed with bladder cancer as a teenager, and firmly asserts that he wouldn't be alive today if cost-conscious bureaucrats had interfered with his treatment.

He's apparently unaware of the interference already being run by bureaucrats in the insurance industry. This year, the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation issued a report on the problems faced by cancer patients who are covered by private insurance.

For these patients, having private health insurance at the time of their cancer diagnosis did not protect them from high out-of-pocket costs – leaving them with large debts to cover their treatment costs and forcing some to skip or delay necessary treatments.

“The stories of people with cancer in this study and video documentary show what our earlier survey work found: that the insurance system often fails people when they need it most, when they get really sick,” said Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman, Ph.D.

“Cancer patients too often find out that their insurance doesn't protect them when they need care the most,” said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., national chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. “High out-of-pocket costs coupled with the high cost of insurance premiums can force cancer patients to incur huge debt, and to delay or forgo life-saving treatments."

The crazy thing is that Mr. Rogers, a beneficiary of generous government health coverage for most of his life, is a staunch defender of the health care status quo.

Wonder if it has anything to do with the money he and his PAC have received from health-related industries?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Funnies

Quite some time ago, a Neighbor signed up for "Mike Rogers" GoogleAlerts.

Now, a vast number of men share this name; the Neighbor thought it was kind of funny to read about the New Zealand rugby club manager, the California skateboarder and the Virginia police chief (not to mention the rather famous blogger). So many guys named Mike Rogers are thoughtful, productive members of their communities.

This amusing little GoogleAlert arrived late today:
Rhino Assembly Corporation has announced that Mr. Mike Rogers has joined their team as Material Handling Manager.
Why is this amusing, you ask?

Because the Neighbor was doing too many things at once when the Google Alert came in. Glancing at the headline, she mis-read "Rhino" as "RINO" and thought it was just a PR hack's way of rewriting the story of Michigan Mike Rogers chairing the NRCC Incumbent Retention committee (yay, Patriots!).

Reading the story, it became pretty clear that it was a real story about a real materials manager at a real company... but since it's Friday, the Neighbor started musing on the joke possibilities:
  • The NRCC assembles candidates
  • Mike Rogers has been hired to handle them
  • The company is impressed with his handling experience
  • Mike Rogers hopes to contribute to their expanding market.
Best wishes to the Rhino Assembly Corporation and their new manager, not-a-politician Mike Rogers, as they run a successful business in a very tough economic climate.

Can't really say the same to the NRCC and Michigan's flip-flopping, definitely-a-politician Mike Rogers, as they play games with health care and national security.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

With apologies to MacBeth, Mike Rogers is doing a good job of turning national security into "a tale told by an idiot."

Stop by DailyKos for the full discussion.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hamster Wheel

Mr. Rogers has certainly earned his month-long (paid) summer vacation! He was running full-tilt on the D.C. hamster wheel, squeaking about health care, fiscal responsibility and Wall Street compensation.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Rogers wasn't sure he'd even bother offering an amendment to the health care bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee. He persevered, though, and managed to stick a snake-oil provision into the final version of the E&C bill (Hey, he doesn't use evidence to make decisions, so why should doctors?). Then he voted against the bill -- even though it would have helped families, seniors and thousands of small businesses in the 8th Congressional District.

Mr. Rogers also voted against the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2009, which requires new tax and mandatory spending to be budget-neutral.

Then, he voted against the Corporate and Financial Institution Compensation Fairness Act of 2009. This bill amends the SEC Act of 1934, giving shareholders an advisory vote on golden parachutes and other megabucks types of executive compensation, and "preventing perverse incentives in the compensation practices of financial institutions." (Don't know about you, but if I was a BoA shareholder, I'd think this was a REALLY good idea.)

Mr. Rogers is also squeaking about extending unemployment benefits. He thinks it's a good idea, but he's said that before and then voted against it.

Now that he's home for vacation, it sounds as though he's made time to see the new Harry Potter movie: when asked about the idea of transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to Standish, he noted that among those prisoners are "some pretty bad actors" trained in "black arts." Who knew that Draco Malfoy would want to hang out in Arenac County?

Seriously, though, Mr. Rogers doesn't represent the people of Standish. The prison is an economic mainstay of the city, providing badly-needed jobs and tax revenue. He's shown zero interest in helping create jobs here in the 8th Congressional District, though he has spent quite a bit of time on employment security for incumbent GOP Congressmen.

Yep, Mr. Rogers is putting in some serious time on the hamster wheel. The only problem with hamster wheels? You can run as hard as you want, but you don't actually go anywhere. And you make a lot of noise in the process.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

By the Numbers: Health care reform in MI-08

From the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, a breakdown of why Mike Rogers needs to stop obstructing health care reform:
America’s Affordable Health Choices Act would provide significant benefits in the 8th Congressional District of Michigan: up to 15,100 small businesses could receive tax credits to provide coverage to their employees; 7,600 seniors would avoid the donut hole in Medicare Part D; 1,700 families could escape bankruptcy each year due to unaffordable health care costs; health care providers would receive payment for $53 million in uncompensated care each year; and 49,000 uninsured individuals would gain access to high-quality, affordable health insurance. Congressman Mike Rogers represents the district.
(Keep in mind that Mr. Rogers sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Whether he actually represents the district is a matter of some debate...)

The Committee offers similar analysis for every House member's district.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bandwagons, Ho!

After watching President Obama's press conference Wednesday evening, I had several thoughts:
  1. I am thrilled to have a president who uses complete sentences AND logic;
  2. the discussion was probably too complex for most people to absorb; and as a result
  3. the final question about Professor Gates would be one of the main media takeaways.
Since the Senate has decided to hold off on a final health care vote until September, it's not much of a surprise that item #3 is getting some traction. Dissection of the President's response to the issue of racial profiling is picking up steam, with everyone from FauxNews to Daily Kos offering an opinion.

And no one loves a bandwagon more than Mr. Mike Rogers, who has weighed with this thoughtful opinion:

Among the strongest criticism of Obama was a complaint that he should know more about the case before commenting.

"It's always dangerous to comment when you don't have the facts," said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a former FBI agent.

Oh, really? Mr. Rogers has made rather a habit out of commenting on issues when he doesn't have the facts -- whether the topic is national security, Medicare, energy policy or S-CHIP.

Guess you have to take your press coverage where you can get it, Mr. Rogers. Sadly, no one is covering your efforts to participate in health care reform or -- oh, wait.

You're not doing anything in Washington.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Good News/Bad News

The good news?

Mike Rogers is working hard to ensure that people keep good jobs with affordable health insurance. He makes time in his schedule to have weekly meetings on this issue; he even meets one-on-one with people who are worried about losing their jobs. Today, Rogers will expand his efforts to include more people.

The bad news?

The jobs he's protecting belong to sitting Republican Congressmen.

From Roll Call:
NRCC Incumbent Retention Chairman Mike Rogers (Mich.) is scheduled to present the list of Members — all of whom have reached specific fundraising and campaign goals — at the weekly GOP leadership and NRCC meeting Thursday morning.
The Patriot Program is pretty sweet -- if you are selected, Mike Rogers will direct some amazing money towards your campaign.

In all the hustle and bustle of picking new Patriots and recycling stale health care ideas, Mr. Rogers may have missed the news that Michigan's unemployment rate now tops 15% -- 15.2%, to be exact, a 7.1% increase over the previous year. We're the first state to hit this level in 25 years.

It's understandable, though -- Mr. Rogers is really busy with his chairmanship responsibilities! It's just not fair to expect him to spend time on the problems of citizens in Michigan's 8th Congressional District.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Stretching the Analogy

Yesterday, Mike Rogers gave his opening statement on health care reform. At 0:54, he asks
Why would we punish the part that's working to cover the part that's not? It's like taking a queen-sized sheet and trying to put it over a king-sized bed. I will guarantee you the corners are gonna come up.
This sounds familiar... Remember his criticisms of updated CAFE standards?
I have long had concerns with the CAFE system. It is old, it is arbitrary, and it has proven time and time again that you really can't make a fat person skinny by mandating smaller pants sizes. (5/3/06)

Mr. Chairman, you know you cannot make a fat guy skinny by mandating smaller pant sizes. (4/20/05)

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), saying it would force automakers to make smaller cars, likened the effort to “trying to limit obesity by mandating smaller pants. (April 2003, p. 41)
It's good to see that Mr. Rogers has updated his ill-fitting textile analogy to avoid offending any fat guys.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Common Ground

You may recall that the Neighborhood has called Mike Rogers out on his, ah, creative approach to earmarks and the budget on more than one occasion.

Well, it's not just us Neighborhood liberals who are unimpressed with Rogers' tendency to two-step. The Right Stuff takes an equally dim view of Mr. Rogers and his colleagues on their "creative" approach to the climate bill.
I guess the other ones decided to stuff their earmarks in realizing that they could have it both ways: Satisfy the constituency while voting against cap and trade. BUSTED!!! [skip]

Mike Rogers (R-MI) -- Number of Earmarks: 2 -- Total: $1,500,000
  • *The Consortium for Plant Biotechnical Research, Inc., St. Simon's Island, GA - Consortium for Plant Biotechnical Research -- $1,000,000
  • Lansing Board of Water and Light, Lansing, MI - energy-efficient drinking water system -- $500,000
The asterisk on the biotech research project indicates that Mr. Rogers was a co-sponsor.
Now, The Right Stuff will never, ever be accused of liberal tendencies (it features a countdown of "Days Left in This Socialist Administration" and quite a few posts on President Obama's "fake" birth certificate).

But it's interesting that both left and right can agree: hypocrisy isn't pretty. True conservatives dislike this earmark finagling as much as us libruls here in the Neighborhood.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Slump

Well, we haven't heard much about Miranda rights for terrorists lately.

The money seems to be coming in OK for Mr. Rogers' NRCC Patriot pals.

There have been a few scary threats about the impact of cap-and-trade legislation, but they're pretty much preaching to the choir. And as Mr. Rogers thunders that cooling the planet will "sink" Michigan's economy, he seems to forget that our state has lost over 600,000 jobs in the last eight years -- pretty much tracking with his tenure in Washington.

What, exactly, HAS Mr. Rogers been doing in D.C.?

The only jobs he's created are for lobbyists and incumbent Republican Congressmen.

The only health care coverage he's supported has been his own.

And the Knowlegis Power Rankings show that no one is paying much attention to his ideas and opinions:

Mike Rogers' Power Score is 16.30

* average score for the Michigan delegation? 25.9
* ranking Republican John Boehner? 56.88

His rank in the House is 214th out of 435.

Don't hold your breath for big things from Mr. Rogers in 2009.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Job Description

Roll Call has dubbed Mike Rogers as the NRCC's "Top Cop," in view of his untiring efforts as Incumbent Retention Chairman for the GOP.

Here in the Neighborhood, we've heard about Mr. Rogers' work as Incumbent Retention Chair -- and we know that this is NOT the kind of job creation program needed in Michigan's 8th Congressional District. A member of the United States House of Representatives is supposed to, well, represent the voters of his or her district.
Rogers began his mission in February, when he started one-on-one meetings with more than 70 of his most vulnerable colleagues to set up individualized campaign goals. [skip]

According to a senior NRCC official, Rogers meets weekly with Boehner, Sessions and Cantor to discuss incumbent retention. [skip]

Rogers meets with NRCC Incumbent Retention Director Bob Honold several times a week. He keeps tabs on every Member’s progress, including political matters such as their call time, volunteer recruitment and local press

Hmmm. I don't recall Mr. Rogers taking the time to meet with more than 70 of the most vulnerable auto industry workers in our district, or sitting down regularly with local business owners.

Let's step back and look at the bigger picture for the first few months of this year:

January 2009:
February 2009:
March 2009:
April 2009:
May 2009:
  • Chrysler entered bankruptcy.
  • The NRCC picked their ten "Patriot" candidates - vulnerable incumbents who need help with fundraising. Mr. Rogers called the fundraising competition "natural and healthy."
  • Michigan's unemployment rate rose to 14.1%.
June 2009:
It will be interesting to see Mr. Rogers' priorities during the next 15 months -- will he focus on fundraising for his Patriots, or jobs and healthcare for his constituents?

Monday, July 6, 2009

2010: Coming up fast

Well, the second quarter of 2009 has closed and we're waiting to see the goodies that were deposited into Mike Rogers' war chest.

In the meantime, Mike Rogers was in great financial shape for 2010 at the end of Q1.

He reported $335,629 in donations for 2009-2010 for his campaign committee and his MIKE-R PAC (Minority Initiative to Keep Electing Republicans).

(Try to contain your surprise when you learn that Abbott Labs, Astra-Zeneca Pharmeceuticals and Pfizer are three of the top 5 contributors to MIKE-R PAC...)

Mr. Rogers had $202, 968 cash on hand.

He hasn't kept it all to himself, though -- he gave the Michigan Republicans a nice chunk of change ($40,000 worth).

Stay tuned for Mr. Rogers' Adventures in PAC-Land, Q2.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sick and Tired

Mike Rogers is a Serious Guy when it comes to health care. He warned us about those liberals who wanted to take Grandma's oxygen tank -- and her "choice" in health care coverage while they're at it.

Well, Mr. Rogers is back with a regurgitated plan for health care reform. He gets points for alliteration ("Costs," "Control," "Choices" and "Cures"), but other than that it's a tired retread of GOP slogans that do nothing to make realistic changes in health care policy.

In a breathtaking reversal (or re-reversal), Mr. Rogers now supports expanding the SCHIP program.
Important safety-net programs - like Medicaid and SCHIP - should be strengthened by expanding premium assistance programs which give low-income families new insurance options.
(You may recall that Mr. Rogers spent most of 2007/2008 fighting tooth and nail against expanding SCHIP, the program which helps working families to pay for their children's health care coverage.)

He also trots out the GOP 85/15 talking point -- that the 85% of Americans who are insured should not have to face higher costs or less choice to cover the 15% who are uninsured.

On the face of it, this sounds reasonable.

It sounds reasonable until you read the recent American Journal of Medicine study which finds that in 2007, 62% of all bankruptcies were linked to medical expenses -- and nearly 80% of the folks who filed had health insurance.

So much for choice and control.

Speaking of control, can you name the two industries which have been the top contributors to Mr. Rogers during his Congressional career? No points for guessing health care and insurance; the pharmaceutical industry is in fifth place for donations to the Rogers cash machine.

Guess we shouldn't expect too much from Mr. Rogers in this summer's health care debates.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Still Bananas Over Miranda

A few weeks ago, Mike Rogers was making the right-wing news rounds with dire predictions about the dangers of Mirandizing Afghan detainees.

More recently, Mr. Rogers has been spreading the "news" in the local media, like WHMI and the Press & Argus.
"As an American citizen, it chills my blood to think that these foreign fighters from other nations who enter Afghanistan to kill our soldiers and allies are being given the same rights as American citizens accused of a crime," Rogers said in a statement.
CQ Politics' Jeff Stein was intrigued by this story of chilled blood (not to mention the chaos), so he talked with the Michigan Republican about his concerns.

Turns out that Mr. Rogers, on his most recent taxpayer-funded trip to Bagram Air Base, sat in on a meeting to which he had not been invited:

“I’m telling you, it was being implemented,” added Rogers, who slipped his minders at Bagram long enough to join a regular morning meeting of FBI, CIA, Defense Department and other U.S. agency personnel involved in interrogations.

“I saw it. I talked to people who were doing it,” he said.

(As Rhett Butler once noted, eavesdroppers often hear highly entertaining things...)

Stein interviewed some very credible people who were not going bananas over a policy which has been in place since 1998.

“Whether a person is Mirandized or not, he can remain silent,” Marion “Spike” Bowman, a former senior legal counsel to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III , pointed out for me.

“Interestingly, with a good interrogator, most do not,” added Bowman, who was also at one time a legal adviser to the Navy’s elite counterterrorism unit, SEAL Team Six.

“A Mirandized person may be interrogated — whether he responds is a different matter,” Bowman said. “Some, in fact, related details that ratted out relatives. The Arab culture is not like ours and the ‘right to remain silent’ is not a part of their culture.”

FBI Director Robert Mueller wrote to Reps. Rogers and Wolfe (R-VA), stating that there has been "no policy change and no blanket instruction" issued for FBI agents to Mirandize detainees overseas.
For detainees held in military custody overseas, approval by the Department of Justice is required before Miranda warnings may be given. [skip]

There are cases in which FBI agents have provided Miranda warnings to persons captured and held overseas, at Bagram and elsewhere. In those cases, a determination was made that a prosecution in an Article III court may be in the interest of national security and that providing Miranda warnings (modified to take into account the overseas location of the detainee) was, therefore, desirable to maximize the likelihood that any resulting statements would be admissible at trial. In practice, Miranda warnings have been provided to Bagram detainees in only a small handful of cases out of over 4,000 individuals detained and interrogated by the FBI.
Faced with this, um, discrepancy between Mr. Rogers' allegations and statements by the Director of the FBI and senior DOJ officials, Stein asked the question that so many media types have been dodging:

I asked the former G-man if he was calling the head of the FBI a liar.

He paused.

"I don't know what Mueller's doing," he said. "There's certainly a contradiction between this and what Mueller told me."

If things are really as bad as this self-styled national security expert (and former FBI Guy) says, shouldn't he be leading a House investigation instead of playing games with nonsense amendments?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

If It's On Fox, It Must Be True!

The FauxNews machine is working overtime to promote Mr. Rogers' recent trip to Afghanistan.

According to Mr. R., the Obama administration is "creating chaos in the field among the CIA, FBI and military personnel" by "quietly ordering the FBI to start reading Miranda rights to suspected terrorists at U.S. military detention facilities in Afghanistan."  

[It would be interesting to determine the amount of time Mr. Rogers spends "in the field" relative to "inside the gates of Bagram Air Base."]

Chaos in the field?  That's a pretty serious statement.  

Yet U.S. military commanders told Fox that soldiers aren't Mirandizing anyone, and a DOJ spokesman stated that

"There has been no policy change nor blanket instruction for FBI agents to Mirandize detainees overseas," he said in a statement, adding, "While there have been specific cases in which FBI agents have Mirandized suspects overseas, at both Bagram and in other situations, in order to preserve the quality of evidence obtained, there has been no overall policy change with respect to detainees."

It's worth noting that no other mainstream news source seem to be reporting this. Other than the usual suspects in the right-wing blogosphere, no one else is talking about it.  Some conservative bloggers are hedging a bit:  
More confirmation is needed before a general outcry takes hold 
Even The Weekly Standard has held off on a hissy fit: 
A lawyer who has worked on detainee issues for the U.S. government offers this rationale for the Obama administration’s approach. “If the US is mirandizing certain suspects in Afghanistan, they’re likely doing it to ensure that the treatment of the suspect and the collection of information is done in a manner that will ensure the suspect can be prosecuted in a US court at some point in the future.”
That's right, folks: evidence given under duress [i.e., torture] is inadmissible in a court of law. You can't prosecute the bad guys without evidence.  Ergo, all law enforcement professionals -- from local cops to the FBI -- know that they need to play by the rules when capturing and interrogating suspects or they risk letting dirtbags walk out of the courtroom.

Approaching terrorism as a law enforcement issue instead of a military issue isn't a new idea. The United States tried and convicted Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.  Abdel-Rahman was sentenced to life in prison and has been sitting in SuperMax since 1996.  The British, no strangers to fighting terrorism, have successfully prosecuted such cases through their court system for years.

Mr. Rogers once again turns to the emotional anecdote in lieu of sensible policy.  If he's genuinely concerned about troop safety and national security, and convinced of the facts, why isn't he shouting this from the rooftops instead of selectively whispering into friendly ears?  

UPDATE:  The American Prospect has a post on Gen. Petraeus' press conference, where he stated that 

"This is the FBI doing what the FBI does," Petraeus replied. "These are cases where they are looking at potential criminal charges. We're comfortable with this." He denied that his soldiers and other relevant American agents are reading Miranda rights to detainees, some of whom are detained as enemy combatants, while others are high-value anti-terror targets. (A U.S. federal court recently ruled that some Bagram detainees have the same habeas rights as prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.)

While it seems that Rogers (and the Fox News correspondent) are happy to play up fears that the Obama administration is soft on terror, Petraeus' didn't seem to concerned by the DOJ practice, which the DOJ denies began with the current administration. In another portion of his speech, discussing the comprehensive strategy launched against Al Qaueda in Iraq as an indirect model counter-terror operations in Afghanistan, Petraeus noted the importance of counter-insurgency amoung detainee populations and the need for releasing certain detainees to help win over the populace, noting that by the end of his time in Baghdad the recdivism rate among released detainees was a very impressive 1 percent.  [emphasis added]

General Petraeus says that his troops aren't Mirandizing detainees -- and he's not concerned about the FBI doing so.  Mr. Rogers says that IS happening.  Does that mean the four-star general is "soft on terror," or does that mean the congressman is a manipulator "misinformed"?