Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rogers' Staffer Won't Touch 'End the War' Yard Sign

Although the local media covered the Iraq Summer event at the Brighton Mill Pond well, there is nothing like video for letting people see what they missed by not being there themselves.

Last Thursday (July 26, 2007) field organizers Mike Webb and Jake Coffey set up a cardboard cut-out of Rep. Mike Rogers and invited constituents of the Brighton Republican to give him a message about ending the Iraq war. The people gave him an earful, but the cardboard cut-out listened about as well as the real thing to their concerns about the human and financial cost of this war.

Iraq Summer followed up with the presentation of a yard sign to a Rogers' staffer by Tom Ford, from Shiawassee Veterans for Peace.

Here's the youtube video of Ford at work:

Notice that the staffer doesn't actually take the sign or even touch it. Apparently, he's afraid it might be contagious.

Peace. Pass it on.

Monday, July 30, 2007

May as well laugh...

Being a Democrat in Livingston County takes determination, gumption, moxie, assorted bits of brass anatomy and, of course, a sense of humor. We're faced with a gerrymandered Congressional district, state Reps who can't stop the partisanship even though they're term-limited, and seriously deluded individuals who write both positive and negative letters to the local paper.

In the immortal words of ancient philosopher Jimmy Buffett: if we didn't laugh, we just would go insane.

Bottom line? Smile whenever you see a Republican. It makes them nervous.

In the interest of full disclosure, this post was inspired by Liberal Lucy's recent piece, Humor is the best medicine.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Question for George and Dick?

We were told that Dick Cheney had his pacemaker battery changed a coujple of days ago. A week previously, George Bush had a colonoscopy and polyps removed.

Now both of these procedures are fairly common but they are expensive. They require a sterile environment, expensive equipment and specialists.
There have been plenty of jokes about both men (Did they actually find a heart in Cheney’s chest? Did they find George’s head?) My question about their procedures is not a joke. I want to know who paid.

So George and Dick, did you have these procedures done under the health insurance plan for Federal employees? It’s one of the best plans in the United States and since it’s paid for by the government and covers just about everything one would want in a health care plan with no worries about pre-existing conditions and co-pays, I classify it as socialized medicine as most people would.

Since both the President and Vice-President can easily pay their own bills for these procedures, did they do so or did they take advantage of the socialized medicine plan extended to Federal employees? If they did, they are hypocrites who are taking advantage of a socialized health insurance plan while preaching the virtues of privatized insurance to the rest of us.

I’m willing to bet a twenty that both George and Dick took advantage of the taxpayers. Any takers? Come up with proof that these two rich fellows paid their own medical bills and I’ll send you a twenty dollar bill.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Dems in the News

Today's Press & Argus had not one but two front-page stories w/photos about active Dems here in Livingston County.

The first story, "Proponents of peace hold rally" covered the Americans Against Escalation in Iraq event at the Mill Pond. Citizens were invited to stand next to a larger-than-life-size poster of U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Brighton) and tell the Congressman what they thought of the war... Given that this may be the closest Mr. Rogers will ever get to any LivCo Dems, the messages were videotaped & will be sent to the Congressman's office. In a no-surprises side story, Rogers' spokeswriter Sylvia Warner issued a written statement in lieu of actually talking to a reporter:

"Our nation's security rests on our ability to take partisan politics out of this debate and move forward together. We must deal with several problems in Iraq — an Iranian problem, and al-Qaida problem, and a sectarian violence problem. It will take an honest, bipartisan dialogue to find strategies that solve those problems and bring our troops home without leaving an al-Qaida safe haven in Iraq. Immediate withdrawal is not a strategy and neither is ignoring the challenges."
Well, taking politics out of the debate is definitely a good thing... too bad Mr. Rogers isn't showing signs of doing it.

On a happier note, the LivCo Dems' own JoAnn Murphy was featured in the "Our Neighbors" series. Titled, "Politics is Murphy's passion," the story was a great spotlight on one of the hardest-working Democrats I know. Go, JoAnn!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Missing Signs An Ominous Sign

It was a pleasant surprise to see Iraq Summer signs reading "Support the Troops: End The War" on Brighton Road west of Brighton earlier this week.

It was a not-so-pleasant surprise to travel the same route again later in the week and see that the signs were gone.

Maybe it was just a zealous road-side clean-up crew. If that's so, why did they leave the sign for Megan's graduation party undisturbed?

So it must have been someone who doesn't support the troops.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Too Many Health Care Outrages To Cover

Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko” is serving as a wake up call to Americans. Michael did a very comprehensive job with impeccable research into this mess that is sometimes called health care (or health careless).

In one part, he portrayed the scandal of how Medicare Part D passed the House and Senate. He covered the ridiculous fact that Medicare is forbidden to negotiate with the drug companies for better prices. He covered, too, the blatant and disgusting contributions and pay backs made to our congressional representatives, including the king of the crooks, Billy Tauzin, who took a million dollars a year job with PhRMA right after Part D passed Congress with his and Tom DeLay’s strongarm tactics..

Michael may not have had enough time to cover the outrage of Medicare Advantage among all the other outrages. What’s Medicare Advantage? It’s a complicated scheme to bamboozle senior citizens, destroy Medicare, and use seniors Medicare premiums to accomplish the whole nefarious business. These "privatization" advocates in Congress and the White House are no better than street thugs snatching purses but they are a helluva lot sneakier.

The federal government PAYS insurance companies to offer Medicare Advantage plans to Medicare recipients. Yes, all Medicare recipients, even if they don’t have Medicare Advantage, pay a monthly premium ($88.50 in 2007) for their Medicare insurance. In turn, the federal government gives part of this premium to insurance companies as subsidies so they will offer Medicare Advantage programs to Medicare recipients. (Note: there is no bleating by conservatives about the free market being violated here.)

The result? Medicare Advantage programs cost a $1,000. MORE per recipient annually than traditional Medicare. Even worse, it’s been discovered that these MA plans are being sold aggressively and dishonestly to seniors. Eventually, the plan is for MA and Medicare to disappear and seniors will be left to the mercy of the kind-hearted and loving insurance executives. These are the same companies who offered HMOs and Managed Care plans to seniors and then abandoned them when they couldn’t make enough money.

Keep your eye on Congress. The Democrats are trying to eliminate this subsidy and use the funds to help support SCHIP. Let’s hope they succeed.

Michael Moore has it right. Health care should never be provided with a profit motive. It's a human right.

Elephant Walk

Who knew D.C. and Lansing had so much in common?

Road Blocks to Voting

Democracy thrives on maximum participation. Republicans know this. They also know that their message appeals to such a small proportion of the population that they can never hope to win elections in which the maximum number of people vote.

That's the real rationale behind a 1996 state law requiring voters to produce a photo ID at the polls, recently upheld by the Michigan Supreme Court. It's not about preventing fraud. It's about preventing people from voting.

The law wins the approval of the Livingston Press & Argus in an editorial Wednesday (July 25, 2007), which considers producing a driver's license no big deal.

It's probably not in Livingston County, but what about in Detroit, where many people don't own cars. If you don't own a car, would you spend the money for a driver's license? The editorial claims voters only need to fill out an affidavit attesting to his or her name, address, and birth date. But how many voters will know that's an option?

I wouldn't put it past Republican operatives to stand outside polling places "reminding" people that they need a driver's license to vote, without mentioning that they can sign an affidavit if they don't have one.

Nor would I put it past Republican workers to challenge every single ballot cast by someone who fills out an affidavit, hoping to find someone who moved from one apartment to another within the past year (even within the same precinct), who signs the form without their middle name, or other such nonsense.

The editorial claims that if the law is used to intimidate voters, "the solution is to prosecute vigorously." If the intimidation succeeds in suppressing voter turnout and tipping an election, prosecution is cold comfort. We don't get do-overs in elections. Ask Al Gore.

As the editorial notes, elections can be decided by a thin margin. If that's true, GOP workers only need to discourage or disqualify a few legitimate voters to affect the outcome.

The newspaper is concerned about "phantom voters," but the law may leave us with a phantom democracy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Thumbs up from critics, thumbs down from House GOP

Join the Livingston County Democrats on Friday, August 3rd at 7 p.m. for their second "Dinner and a Movie" night featuring

The screening is co-sponsored by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq , a group spearheading constituent action to persuade Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Brighton) to end his support of the Iraq War.

The screening will take place at the LCDP office, 10321 East Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton. "Dinner and a Movie" is open to the public. The suggested donation is $10 per person or $15 for a couple, and $5 for students. Attendees are asked to bring a covered dish for the potluck dinner. The movie will be screened following the potluck. Anyone needing transportation may call party headquarters, 810-229-4212.

Robert Greenwald, a 30-year veteran of Hollywood, has won acclaim for his documentaries, including "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism" and "WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price."

Earlier this year, Greenwald was invited to testify before the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, where he discussed the role of private contractors in the torture and abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Greenwald had intended to show four minutes of the film, but Republican committee members insisted that the clip not be shown.

"This documentary should appeal to any taxpayer who is concerned about government waste and government over-spending, even if they support military action in Iraq," said Matt Evans, County Democratic Party Chair. "Certainly government waste is something that Democrats, independents, and Republicans should all be against."

The film features individual soldiers talking about the waste of taxpayer dollars they witnessed in Iraq due to government out-sourcing of the war to private corporations – including paying private companies $100 for doing a bag of laundry.


Although the film was designed primarily to be shown in grassroots screenings rather than in movie theaters, reviewers have praised it. The New York Times said that Greenwald had compiled "... a horrifying catalog of greed, corruption and incompetence among private contractors in Iraq," and called the film's revelations "shocking."

The Los Angeles Times wrote:

"Like Greenwald's previous films, ' Iraq for Sale' is made from a progressive political point of view but spends considerable time talking to regular people who likely voted Republican. And this time he's focused on one of those issues that might unite viewers across all political spectra: unconscionable war profiteering coupled with catastrophic decisions by major American companies."

TV Guide awarded it three and a half stars (out of four) while calling it"carefully researched" and "crucial to fully understanding the Iraqi/American enterprise."

Join us on August 3rd and see for yourself!

Stabenow Comes Through for Kids

Sen. Debbie Stabenow made her reputation in the Michigan Legislature by promoting children's issues, and she's doing the same in the U.S. Senate. We haven't given Stabenow her due in this space and it's time to make amends.

Stabenow has been one of the leaders in expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program, providing coverage to children of the working poor. The Lansing State Journal has a piece on the legislation's progress from last week (July 20, 2007).

Stabenow and other supporters of the legislation face an uphill battle in getting the program expanded. George Bush has threatened a veto, having suddenly found his veto pen once Democrats took over control of Congress.

She deserves a pat-on-the-back for fighting for kids, who can't afford lobbyists, don't have a PAC, and can't vote yet.

Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

The Iraq Summer Campaign comes to Brighton Thursday (July 26, 2007) and if you're against the Iraq War, it's time to speak up and let Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Brighton now how you feel.

Mike Webb and Jake Coffey, field organizers for Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, will be at the Brighton Mill Pond Park in the 100 block of West Main Street in Brighton, at 12:15 p.m.

"We need your help!" said Webb. "We'll be passing out yard signs and other
materials, playing music and engaging as many people as we possibly

Webb and Coffey also will have a video camera set up that will allow Brighton residents to record 30-second personal messages telling Rogers how they feel about the war. The messages will be compiled into a compact disc and given to Mike Rogers at the end of the summer. People also will be able to pick up yard signs reading "Support the Troops, End the War," as well as bumper stickers and lapel stickers.

"This is an opportunity for Brighton residents to show that they do not support
Bush's failed policy in Iraq and will not support Mike Rogers if he
continues to ignore their pleas for a responsible end to the war which
has cost over 3,620 U.S. lives and over $442 billion," Webb said.

Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP to michigan7@iraqsummer.org

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Subtle Racism Runs Through Riot Reminiscences

When the Livingston Press & Argus began running notices on its web page asking for people to come forward with their recollections of the 1967 Detroit riots, the danger signs were obvious. What kind of recollections would come from people who live in a community that is nearly all white?

The answer came this morning (Sunday, July 22, 2007) in the form of a story titled, "Residents Reflect on Rioting -- 'It Was Hell.'" The article opens with the point of view of a white police officer and appears to focus on white people throughout, emphasizing their fear about being shot by black people.

There are a few redeeming paragraphs, as in the case of one person who says he defended black people against white relatives who wanted to bomb the city. The writer says he "pointed to television pictures showing white people engaged in looting as well, and told his relatives that it wasn't just blacks involved in the riot.

"His family ended up leaving Detroit in 1978, mainly because of declining property values. He said his father's home value went down so much that he ended up losing money on his investment.

"'It's something I'll go to my grave wondering,' he said. 'Why did property values go down just because someone with a different skin color was living by you?'"

But mostly the article is about looting and shooting. It lacks any discussion of the living conditions for poor African Americans that preceded the riots, including severe over-crowding in the small area of Detroit in which African Americans were allowed to live.

The article also assumes a "golden past" for Detroit preceding the summer of 1967, claiming the city's decline began at that point.

African American views of the riots are marginalized by being placed in a separate article alongside the main piece in the package, "Forty Years Later, Detroit Riots' Impact Persists." It's unclear why white and black experiences were separated in such fashion, but the message that sends is unpleasant.

The main piece in the package attempts a balanced discussion of the causes underlying the disturbance, while suggesting that the decline in the numbers of white residents in Detroit had begun much earlier.

That is a view borne out by historical research, including Thomas Sugrue's price-winning work, Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit. Sugrue also documents the brutality of white homeowners, organized in white citizen councils, toward African Americans who tried to buy homes in all-white neighborhoods in the 1950s and early 1960s. The Press & Argus would have done better to take a look at Sugrue's work before researching its package of articles since the white-on-black violence preceding the riot, including the 1942 white riot, is an important part of the context.

Overall, the package attempts balance in some areas, but falls short because of the assumptions on which it is built -- blacks rioted for no good reason and whites were scared.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Rogers Responds to Protests -- Sort Of

Rep. Mike Rogers has finally mustered the courage to respond to his constituents' opposition to the Iraq War -- with a brief statement claiming that the war is essential to American security.

The Lansing State Journal reports that it reached Rogers by email after a Thursday protest at Michigan State University organized by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq.

According to the Lansing State Journal, the Brighton Republican replied to the protest with the following statement:

"We have several problems in Iraq - an Iranian problem, an al Qaeda problem and a sectarian violence problem. What we need is not empty political resolutions like the measure on the House floor recently, but an honest, bipartisan dialogue on what strategy we need if the surge, which I did not favor, does not work.

"Immediate withdrawal is not a strategy and neither is ignoring the challenges. Our nation's security rests on our ability to take partisan politics out of this debate and move forward together. We must agree on a strategy that brings our troops home without leaving an al Qaeda safe haven in Iraq."

Let's dissect this bit of nonsense.

First of all, Rogers leaves out the biggest problem we have in Iraq -- an incompetence problem created by George Bush's decision to invade the country in the first place.

Then Rogers calls for a "dialogue" IF the surge doesn't work. So why doesn't Rogers start the dialogue by laying out his plan IF the surge doesn't work?

After that bit of hot air, Rogers throws out the red herring that "immediate withdrawal is not a strategy." A withdrawal next April is not "immediate" by any stretch of the imagination.

Then he claims that "our nation's security" rests on this debate. "Our nation's security" has nothing to do with the war in Iraq. The war has made us less safe, as shown by the recent National Intelligence Estimate that Al Qaeda has regained its strength while the U.S. has been distracted by the unnecessary war in Iraq. The NIE report said that the Iraq War had had a "rejuvenating effect" on Al Qaeda.

As for Al Qaeda finding a safe haven in Iraq, why would Al Qaeda move there from the safe haven it already has in Pakistan, to which its leaders fled after George Bush botched the war in Afghanistan?

Why do journalists routinely print such nonsensical statements from politicians? Unfortunately, journalistic norms requiring "balance" sometimes work against journalists' desire to seek out the truth. If just once a newspaper could tell Rogers that his statement is not worthy of being printed because it doesn't say anything new, he might change his ways. But no newspaper will, for fear of being labeled biased. So he -- and other politicians -- get away with issuing statements that dodge the question and hide the truth.

President Cheney -- Are You Scared Yet?

As I write this, I am going through one of my worst nightmares -- living in the United States with Dick Cheney as president.

Cheney has been president for one hour and one minute as of right now, according to an AP story being carried by the Lansing State Journal. Bush ceded power to Cheney just prior to undergoing a colonoscopy.

Let me know when it's safe to come out of my bomb shelter.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Parading Around Town for Fruit

Sounds stupid, doesn't it? But that's what we in Livingston County do every August -- have a parade for fruit, specifically Howell melons. And it's always a great time.

Livingston County Democrats will honor the local tasty version of the cantaloupe during the 2007 Howell Melon Fest, sponsored by the local Jaycees on August 17, 18, and 19.

In the next few weeks, the local party will be rounding up volunteers to work in its booth and march in the parade on the morning of Saturday August 18.

Save the date. You don't want to miss Michigan's largest small town parade.

Michigan Around the Blogosphere

Bits and bytes of information about Michigan found floating around the blogosphere today (Friday, July 20, 2007):

CQ.com has an interesting tidbit about Sen. Carl Levin's background.

The Conservative Media has two interesting posts on what Livingston County's two Michigan House Republicans are up to: Joe Hune's bill on power lines and Chris Ward's bid to disenfranchise voters, which was upheld by the Michigan Supreme Court earlier this week.

A guest blogger over at Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood delves into the relationship between Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Brighton and Clearly-Not-A-Major University.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dinner and a Movie--Part II

Need something cheap to do on a Friday night? How about dinner and a movie with your significant other?

Livingston County Democrats will host their second "Dinner and a Movie" on Aug. 3 at party headquarters. All are welcome. The event will be similar to the party's movie night in May, which featured Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

The movie will be Iraq for Sale concerning Iraq war profiteering, by Hollywood film producer Robert Greenwald. His credits include Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism.

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq is co-sponsoring the evening as part of its effort to turn up the heat on Rep. Mike Rogers to end his support for the war.

Details to follow, but save the date!

Part-Time Legislature Buzz Focusing on Wrong Issue

The current buzz about transforming the Michigan Legislature from a full-time, year-round institution to a part-time one seems to be focusing on issues of saving money. Such a switch probably would save money, but it also would have other effects --good and bad -- that probably would be more important for the state.

A part-time legislature with a limited number of session days would greatly impact the way laws are made in this state because it would create a deadline for completing work. Important measures, such as the annual budget, would get passed sooner in the year, making it possible for state agencies and universities to know their financial situations well in advance. That's because in states with part-time legislatures, lawmakers have to pass a budget before they adjourn for the year, and that typically happens in the first six months of the year.

In a state such as Iowa, for example, the legislative session begins in January and ends in April or early May. No law requires this. The Legislature did it by itself by adopting a set of rules that make it happen.

One rule (referred to as the "funnel" because of the way it funnels activity) says that non-budget bills that will be voted on during the year must be passed out of committee within a certain number of days at the start of the session. Committees do their work early in the year in order to meet that deadline, instead of stringing it out over months.

Another rule says that the per diem expense money for lawmakers runs out after 100 session days. Once senators and representatives have to start paying for their meals and lodging out of their own pockets, they suddenly feel a sense of urgency about finishing their work and getting home.

The per diem rule capitalizes on a fundamental aspect of the legislative process. Deals are always made at the last minute. No one puts his or her final offer on the table at the start of negotiations, any more than lawyers negotiating a settlement or parties in a real estate transaction do. But when time is running out and the last train is leaving the station, lawmakers know they have to stop posturing and do hard bargaining. All the cajoling in the world by a governor who wants the budget done early will not move people to negotiate before that moment.

In Michigan, that moment can be put off for months. In Iowa, it comes in the spring when the money runs out. People get their work done because they have to.

I watched this process work during my nine years covering the Iowa Legislature. Did it ever fail? Only during a year when the Legislature was involved in reapportioning itself after a census. Then lawmakers had to come back for three-day special sessions limited to that topic, three times, to get that job done. But the budget was completed on time.

The creation of a deadline has other effects. It tends to create more press coverage of the Legislature. The Legislature is only in town for a few months. Reporters know there is a short window of opportunity for things to happen. The atmosphere is more of a pressure-cooker because of that. Things happen faster. Bad ideas die sooner in the year and lawmakers cannot milk a full year of publicity about a bill that's going nowhere. Reporters don't have time to focus on every single stupid bill that lawmakers float out to try to appeal to their base, as we did during the nine years I covered the Michigan Legislature.

Once the session was over and lawmakers were out of town, reporters tended to cover state agencies, figuring out how the laws that were passed were working out. The result was press coverage of all of government, not just the legislative process.

Are there other impacts? Yes. Salaries tend to be lower so some people probably can't afford to run for office. On the other hand, the part-time schedule works well for some professions, such as teaching, where people can take one semester off and still teach in the fall.

What if issues arise during the off-session months that need immediate attention? Part-time legislatures tend to result in increased power for the governor to handle such crises. Usually, these are budget problems, which governors handle with across-the-board budget cuts. Of course, governors could call the Legislature back into session, but they generally view that as a can of worms they don't want to open.

On balance, a part-time legislature probably would be good for Michigan. It would force lawmakers to get their work done earlier, providing more certainty for state agencies and universities worried about their budget. It would concentrate publicity within a few months.

And yeah, it might save a few bucks.

Upholding the Right to Dissent

A pat on the back goes to the Livingston Press & Argus for its editorial in editions for Thursday (July 19, 2007) about citizens' ability to criticize government officials.

The editorial noted that "voters and taxpayers have every right to criticize the performance of public officials."

It's nice to see that stated in print at a time when dissent is often seen as unpatriotic, when people who criticize George Bush and his reckless, wasteful war are often lambasted as traitors.

The Press & Argus editorial was about an effort by the Howell school board to restrict public comment at meetings because they seem to be hurting the feelings of Wendy Day, the mother who won't trust public school officials to educate her own children but thinks she should be in charge of educating other people's children.

The newspaper warns the board against silencing public criticism. If that attitude is good enough for a conservative newspaper like the Livingston Press & Argus, it ought to be good enough for its conservative readers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Against the War? Time to Prove It

With 70 percent of Americans against the war in Iraq, there's a lot of talk about how our leaders need to do something to end it.

Now, here's your chance to do something to help end the war.

The Americans Against Escalation in Iraq will be canvassing in Brighton for two hours this weekend as part of its Iraq Summer Campaign to pressure Republican Rep. Mike Rogers to stop supporting George Bush's disastrous war.

The group is meeting at 2 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot behind McGivney's Law Office on 210 Main St. before dispersing.

Iraq Summer field organizers Mike Webb and Jake Coffey say the event is important because the city of Brighton is Rogers' hometown, where he expects sixty-five percent of the vote each election. "We need to send the message home that the people of Brighton, like the overwhelming majority of Americans, do not support President Bush's reckless war," Coffey and Webb said.

Canvassers will be distributing yard signs and asking Brighton residents to call their Congressman to stop supporting Bush's reckless war policy.

Please RSVP to michigan7@iraqsummer.org if you are able to attend or or any question regarding the campaign.

Groups participating in Iraq Summer in Rogers' district include America Votes, Democracy for America, Greater Lansing Network Against War and Injustice, Michigan Peace Works, Military Moms for Peace, and Peace Education Center.

Show Us The Money

Mike Rogers recently released a partial list of earmarks to local media.

Let’s leave aside the fact that he (a) didn’t release the complete list; (b) didn’t release it when requested by a constituent; (c) included all kinds of goodies for Cleary University’s Livingston campus; and (d) only had six earmarks approved, receiving waaaay less $$ than he asked for.

Mike Rogers is proud to call himself a Republican.

Are the Republicans proud to include him in their ranks?

Apparently, Republican Michigander is kinda skeptical. In a post titled, “Can’t Go Along With This, Mike,” RM notes:

I know earmarks is how the game is played. I know that this is an attempt to bring home the bacon to the 8th district. The problem is the game itself, and Mike had a good chance to be a hero.

This was a good chance for Mike Rogers to request no earmarks and once again call out the democrats, as well as the Ted Stevens acolytes in the GOP side of the house, and bring some fiscal responsibility to the party which - until recently - carried that banner.

The system is broke, and this was a good chance to fix it.

Now, our Saul stops short of violating Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment (“Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican”), but he’s not the only one to have noticed the disconnect between Mr. Rogers words and actions.

The Club For Growth (a/k/a Ideology R Us) gives a score of 100 to legislators who show the highest support for pro-growth policies, and anoints those with scores in the 90+ range as "Defenders of Economic Freedom."

According to the Club, Mr. Rogers hasn't been an ardent defender of economic freedom, sliding from a 71 in the 2005 score to a 58 in 2006.

The National Taxpayers Union isn't that impressed, either. In their survey of spending in the 109th Congress, they found that Mr. Rogers had voted to approve an annualized net increase of $417,331,000.

Mr. Rogers' NTU scores have ranged from 56% - 62% during his time in Congress. Though, in an example of grade inflation that would make Harvard blush, NTU gives a score of 62% a grade of “B”...

So by these fiscally conservative standards, Mike Rogers isn't being careful with our money – yet he doesn't seem to be bringing much back to the 8th district.

Where's our money going?

You can start by reviewing BZP's earlier post detailing some of Mr. Rogers' campaign contributors (General Dynamics, Exxon Mobil, Lockheed Martin, Koch Industries, Wal-Mart).

Then think about who's profiting from the wasteful war in Iraq, astronomical oil prices and unfair labor practices -- and the legislators who help them.

P.S. For a well-written analysis of the current GOP rift between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives, read The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, libertarians and the battle to control the Republican Party by Ryan Sager.

Cross-posted at Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Everybody's Against Sin -- Or Are They?

Everybody's against sin, especially if it's someone else's. Our own, we tend to see as virtues.

Such is the case with the Livingston Press & Argus' recent editorial on "sin taxes." The piece in editions for Friday (July 13, 2007) equates a proposed tax on tickets to athletic, concerts, and other events with taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, known as "sin taxes."

In the editorial, reporter Christopher Behnan, writes, "That's right, a ticket tax. What sin is associated with buying tickets for concerts, sporting events and other cultural events? That is, other than lining the pockets of Ticketmaster, Clear Channel and other corporate giants through inflated box office prices?"

Continuing on the "sin" theme, Behnan added: "This wouldn't be a sin tax. This would be a tax on something that actually contributes to our cultural and arts base. I get no greater rush than seeing a great rock concert. Sports fans get the same feeling from attending a great ball game. These are traditions in Michigan, not road blocks to public health. The 'luxury tax' should be squashed before it has a chance to leave the ground."

Not sure where Behnan got the idea that a luxury tax is the same as a sin tax. But he did his research on the proposed tax at a site promoted by the Detroit Tigers and others, called notickettax.com , so it's no wonder his information is distorted.

The 6 percent ticket tax is not yet a formal proposal, but an idea that Gov. Jennifer Granholm has floated to help plug the $1 billion-plus hole in the state's budget.

While Behlan complains about what a shame it would be if fans who can afford $40 tickets to a three-hour game had to pay $2.40 more to enjoy themselves, he conveniently leaves out the consequences if the state does not raise more revenue.

One of those consequences is higher tuition at Michigan universities -- and not just higher by 6 percent. Central Michigan University recently approved a 21.1 percent hike in tuition for first-time students.

Let me think about that. Charging 6 percent more for concerts and baseball games or charging young people 21.1 percent for trying to make something out of their lives --which one is the greater sin?

What would Jesus do?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rogers Votes Against Increased Student Aid and in favor of Corporate Welfare Payments to Lenders

On July 11, the U.S. House Passed HR 2669, The College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, which will increase student support by about $19 billion and reduce excessive corporate welfare payments to lenders by a like amount. It increases Pell Grants, lowers student loan interest rates and increases low cost loan limits while lowering mandatory taxpayer subsidies to lenders.

Mike Rogers, however, chose taxpayer funded lender profits over aid to students! Michigan Republicans Knollenberg, Miller and Upton were among the 47 Republicans who voted for students instead of corporate profits. For once Members of Congress from both parties stood up to the well financed student loan lobby. Rogers' vote shows his support for continuing the funding behind the recent student aid scandals. He prefers to help the student loan industry rather than Livingston County's college students and their families.

For further information go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/12/washington/12loan.html?_r=1&oref=slogin http://www.house.gov/apps/list/speech/edlabor_dem/rel071107.html

Time Is Running Out to Save the Internets

Did you even know the internets were in trouble? George Bush doesn't, but if you're reading this blog, the system must be important to you.

The Federal Communications Commission is taking comments on the issue of "net neutrality" -- the technical arrangements that make the internet a level playing field for all users. But the last day to comment is Monday, July 16.

A coalition called Save the Internet is collecting comments and personal stories from citizens who want to preserve the democratic nature of the internet.

Telecommunications policy sounds very wonkish for a lot of people but the Save the Internet site has a lot of information explaining the issue. And you can make a difference. The grassroots raised such an uproar over a GOP plan to increase consolidation in the broadcasting industry a few years back that the plan was dropped.

Visit Save the Internet today and add your story. Help make Friday the 13th a very unlucky day for telecommunications lobbyists!

He Just Won't Listen

Republican Rep. Mike Rogers continues to be tone-deaf when it comes to what his constituents are saying about the Iraq war.

Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood reports today (Friday, July 13, 1007) that Rogers said no to bringing the troops home in a vote Thursday night.

The piece notes: "With this vote, it appears Congressman Rogers is okay with giving this reckless President of ours whatever he wants when it comes to Iraq. We are now in the 5th year of the Iraq Occupation, with no end in sight to the civil war our troops are refereeing, or the injuires they receive or casualties they suffer."

Well said!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Will He or Won't He?


That was the response that a group of 8th Congressional District residents opposed to the Iraq War got Thursday (July 12, 2007) when they met with Republican Rep. Mike Rogers' staff about the upcoming "Take a Stand" event at the Michigan Capitol.

The group, which included the mother of a man who has served a year in Iraq, a Shiawassee County veteran opposed to the war, and others, gathered outside Rogers' office in Lansing. Rogers was in Washington, but staff members met with four of Rogers' constituents.

Afterward, participants said they had a chance to explain their positions to Rogers' aide and hand-delivered a letter, along with a petition signed by 200 people, inviting Rogers to the Aug. 28 "Take a Stand" event being organized by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq.

Rogers recently told the Livingston Press & Argus that he will not support a change in policy in Iraq until after he hears a report this fall on the effectiveness of Bush's recent troop escalation, although Rogers opposed the "surge" when Bush announced it in January.

While two Lansing-area television stations sent cameras to the event, the Livingston Press & Argus was not visible. Too busy covering "ducks stuck in gutter" stories to bother with "country stuck in costly, unpopular war" stories probably.

But LivingBlue has you covered, with on-the-spot video.

Edwards Coming to Ann Arbor!

Well, not yet.

But he could, if enough people demand it. Supporters of John Edwards around the country are vying for a chance to have Edwards visit their city, and Ann Arbor is in the running. The city with the most votes wins, but the balloting ends soon.

To help lure Edwards to Ann Arbor, visit this site and click for Ann Arbor.

Who nows? We might be able to lure him a few miles north if he's in the area.

Be There Or We'll Talk About You

Can't make it to Detroit for the NAACP presidential candidates forum today? How about visiting Lansing instead?

The political event there today (July 12, 2007) is at Republican Rep. Mike Rogers' office.

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq will be hand-delivering a letter to Rogers' office urging him to take a stand on the Iraq war. The letter will invite Rogers to a town hall meeting on Aug. 28 to explain his stance on the war to his constituents.

Today's event is at 12:30 p.m. at Rogers' office, 1327 E. Michigan Avenue.

Be there or we'll talk about you.

Connecting the Dots on How Rogers Feels About Students

Republican Rep. Mike Rogers was bragging in his email newsletter earlier this week about a grant he secured for Michigan State University. But now does he really feel about the students at Sparty's school?

A couple recent posts on Blogging for Michigan and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood make it crystal clear.

First, Blogging for Michigan (via Michigan Liberal) tells us that Michigan State has increased its tuition 9.6 percent for next year.

Then, over at Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, the folks tell us that Mr. Rogers voted against an increase in the maximum Pell grant for needy students and a 50 percent cut in the interest rate students pay on college loans.

So given "A," wouldn't it be logical (not to mention compassionate, fair, and sound planning for the future) that Rogers would vote for "B" since Michigan State is in his district?

Is it any wonder Republicans are losing the youth vote big time?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Stabenow Thinks Levin Needs to Get on the Ball

Sen. Carl Levin generally does a good job of keeping his eye on the ball, but Sen. Debbie Stabenow thinks he needs to get ON the ball.

According to an item in The Hill website, Stabenow bought Michigan's senior Democratic senator an exercise ball for his 73rd birthday.

According to The Hill:

"Stabenow spokesman Brent Colburn said Levin was in the Stabenow office discussing legislative matters when he asked to borrow Legislative Director Amanda Renteria’s phone. Renteria had traded in her chair for an exercise ball to improve her core strength and posture, and Levin was fascinated.

"'He sat down on it, and he liked it,' Colburn explained.

"So now he has one of his very own. But a spokeswoman for Levin said he is 'a little busy this week,' and she was unlikely to find out whether he has been using the ball.

"Well, we’ve got an eye on you, Senator Levin. You may be able to hide your exercise ball, but you can’t hide your ramrod posture and abs of steel."

Levin will need abs of steel to budge the Bush administration from its foolish Iraq policy.

Rogers' Newsletter Avoids War Talk

Does Rep. Mike Rogers even know there's a war on? You can't tell by reading his Legislative Email Update.

Rogers' three-page, taxpayer-funded letter arrived in my email inbox on Tuesday (July 10, 2007). The headlines: "Rogers Proposal Would Boost Alternative Fuel Research, Protect Jobs," "Rogers Rejects Senate Amnesty Bill," "Mentoring Legislation Co-Sponsored by Rogers," and "Michigan State Receives $50 Million for Energy Research, Creates 100 Jobs."

Missing was the headline I'd really like to see: "Rogers Breaks with Bush on Disastrous Iraq War." No surprise there. Rogers appears ready to follow Bush all the way to the bottom of the public opinion polls and continue to support the war which the overwhelming majority of Americans now oppose.

But neither is Rogers crowing about his support of that war. Where's the headline touting his determination to keep fighting in Iraq come hell or high water? If he supports this war, why doesn't his newsletter give us an update on its progress and explain why we are succeeding and must keep at it?

Instead, Rogers gives us warmed-over news about a Department of Energy grant to Michigan State, which already has appeared in the Detroit Free Press.

Rogers' silence may be an admission -- if you don't have anything good to say about a war, don't say anything at all.

After skipping the Brighton 4th of July parade, Rogers did emerge from his summer vacation long enough to talk to the Livingston Press & Argus about the war. In a story in Wednesday's edition (July 11, 2007), Rogers
wanted to give the recent troop escalation more time.

"The truth of the matter is, nobody's really sure if it's working yet," Rogers was quoted as saying, adding that any discussion of it should be put off until yet another report is due out in September.

Rogers' position is illogical. He supposedly opposed the escalation in January, proposing that troops be moved out of Baghdad to track al Qaeda fighters elsewhere in Iraq. But after opposing it in January, now he wants to stick with it.

Then he goes on to disingenuously misrepresent the position of Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, who has introduced legislation to begin withdrawing troops in 120 days and end combat by next April.

"Immediate withdrawl is not the answer," Rogers said.

Starting withdrawl in four months and keeping troops in Iraq until April 2007 is hardly "immediate."

Rogers' alternative plan seems to be little more than an attempt to construct political cover for himself. He wants to separate himself from Bush's "surge" while continuing to support the war.

All the News That's Fit to Print -- When They Get Around to It

Is somebody at the Livingston Press & Argus reading our blog?

Last week, we jabbed the local newspaper for being behind the times (or worse) when George Bush commuted the sentence of Scooter Libby. The paper's website still carried the news of Libby's sentencing, with no mention of the commutation.

When I checked this morning (Wednesday, July 11, 2007), the Press & Argus had updated the "Nation/World" category with a story on a wiretap ruling.

Guess the paper has modified The New York Times motto, "All the News That's Fit to Print," to include "As Soon as We Get Around to It."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

An Invitation Rogers Probably Will Refuse

This could turn into a long, hot summer for U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers. The Brighton Republican remains a firm supporter of the war in Iraq, which is opposed by more and more Americans everyday, but this summer a national coalition is turning up the heat on Rogers.

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq already has held one event at Rogers' Lansing office, and has another one planned this week.

On Thursday (July 12, 2007), Americans Against Escalation in Iraq will visit Rogers' office (1327 E. Michigan Avenue, Lansing) to present him a special invitation. Jake Coffey, field organizer for the coalition, said Rogers will be invited to an Aug. 28 Take a Stand rally at the state Capitol where he will have a opportunity to take a stand for or against the escalation in Iraq.

Rogers, however, has been unusually publicity shy this summer, failing to show up for the Brighton 4th of July parade.

Coffey says the group plans an event every week leading up to Aug. 28. In preparation for the rest of the summer, Coffey and field organizer Michael Webb will hold an organizing committee meeting tonight at 5:30 p.m. at Gone Wired Cafe, 2021 E. Michigan Avenue, Lansing.

On the agenda are items such as building a volunteer base (especially outside of Ingham County) with email lists and outreach; finding a more permanent office space and meeting area; a canvassing event in Brighton on Saturday or Sunday; working more closely with the City Council Resolution Project; and brainstorming on weekly press events.

Coffey and Webb are part of a national campaign that includes veterans, students, some of the nation's leading anti-war voices, and progressive organizations which traditionally confine their activity to domestic issues. The coalition includes the Service Employees International Union, MoveOn.org Political Action, VoteVets.org, Center for American Progress Action Fund, USAction, Win Without War, Campaign for America's Future, the United States Student Association, Working Assets, Americans United for Change and Campus Progress Action.

The approach was inspired by the Mississippi Summer of 1964 and the later Vietnam Summers. Coffee said the approach "can transform the political climate and shift our current administration's policy of endless war. We are on the ground building momentum and putting pressure on key Republican districts to help bring a responsible end to the war. In Michigan we have twelve organizers and two field directors and we're targeting five Republican congressmen (Rogers, Ehlers, Upton, McCotter, and Knollenberg)."

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Write Stuff

Rogers spokeswoman Sylvia Warner, as part of her ongoing (and successful) effort to avoid actually speaking to journalists, felt it best to email her [one-word?] answer to the The Buzz column in yesterday's Press & Argus.

After noting the rather large number of Rogerites decked out with Romney stickers and signs at Brighton's 4th of July parade, The Buzz asked if Rogers was supporting Romney's run at the Republican Presidential nomination

Does that mean Rogers supports Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who spoke at a Republican Party event in Livingston County in April?

The answer, according to an e-mail from Rogers' spokeswoman Sylvia Warner, is simple: No

Stay tuned for more gripping prose from our representative's representative.

P.S. Speaking of the Brighton 4th of July parade, where were the legislators? No Rogers, no Ward, no Hune, and a Senator-free Garcia entry. C'mon, guys -- cough up the entry fee, buy some tootsie rolls and make the effort to walk the 1.1 mile route.

Cross-posted at Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

A Monday Cartoon


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Exactly Who Is the 'Some' Behind School Calendar Bill?

"Some" is a handy word -- so vague, so indefinite, so able to suggest a multitude of possibilities from which the reader or listener can select his or her favorities according to his or her prejudices. In certain contexts, "some" can also be a dishonest word.

Such is the case with the Livingston Press & Argus editorial on attempts to force a uniform school calendar on all school districts within the same intermediate school district.

In the edition for Sunday (July 8, 2007), a P&A editorial criticizes the move (and rightly so), listing a string of well-thought out reasons why the Legislature should reject the move.

The rub comes in the discussion of who is behind the move. The editorial merely says "some" legislators are behind it. Not even some Democrats in the Legislature or some Republicans in the Legislature, just some.

Why not name the sponsors of the bill?

Could the reason be that one of our local lawmakers is behind the bill? The Michigan Legislature's website lists none other than Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Brighton, as one of the sponsors of the SB549 measure being criticized by the P&A.

Yet Garcia's name appears nowhere in the editorial. Nor does the fact that Senate Republicans were behind the measure that passed the Senate. That information may have appeared in the newspaper at some time in the past, but people may not have seen those articles or may have forgotten it. Why not repeat it now?

Why the reluctance to name Garcia? If he is one of the sponsors of a piece of legislation that is harmful to our local schools, shouldn't P&A readers be told that so that they can contact Garcia's office and let him know what they think?

The wording of the editorial in effect lets the reader blame anyone he or she wants -- even Democratic lawmakers who may not support the measure.

Whose interests are served by such an approach? Certainly not the paper's subscribers, who depend on the P&A to alert them to things they should be concerned about.

But I'll bet Garcia doesn't have a lot of complaints about the way the paper handled it.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Press & Argus Column Suggests Dems Won't Fight Terror

A nasty lie is lurking in Dan Meisler's column in the Livingston Press & Argus from Friday (July 6, 2007) titled, "Some Things I'd Like to See."

The lie is phrased innocently, making it all the more dangerous because people accept its premise without really thinking about it and without Meisler having to state it outright. It's slander, nevertheless.

In the column, Meisler lists several things he'd like to see, such as an explanation for why it's all right to spend huge amounts of money in political campaigns and an explanation for why people should tolerate intolerance. And then comes this:

"I'd like to see a Democratic presidential candidate — after reciting the requisite criticisms of Bush's foreign policy, and the pledges to work more closely with our allies, and to go to war only as a last resort, and to respect human rights, etc. etc. — look into the camera, point his or her finger and say, 'But remember this: If you're a terrorist, we're coming after you.'"

Meisler has packed a lot into that statement, which probably had a lot of Livingston County people muttering, "Damn right," without stopping to think that George Bush has made plenty of such statements without carrying them out. In what jail is Osama bin Laden sitting right now, for example?

Furthermore, Meisler's statement assumes, without providing any proof, that Democrats only criticize Bush, have no plans of their own for fighting terrorism, and worst of all, somehow don't want to stop terrorists.

Meisler needs to pay closer attention to what Democratic candidates are saying.

As Sen. Hillary Clinton has been saying since at least 2005, in a statement here

"Criticism of this Administration's policies should not in any way be confused with softness against terrorists, inadequate support for democracy or lack of patriotism. I am grateful to the men and women of our armed forces and have been honored to meet them twice in Iraq. They honor our country every day with their courage, selfless dedication, and success in battle. I am also grateful to the thousands of unknown men and women in our security forces and around the world who have been fighting the larger war against terrorism, finding terrorists’ cells, arresting them and working to prevent future attacks. And I applaud the brave people who have been risking their lives every day to bring democracy and peace to Afghanistan and Iraq.

"I recently returned from visiting Israel and Jordan, seeing first hand the tragedy of spreading terrorism. As a New York Senator, I believe New York has a special bond with the victims of such terrorism, and we understand both the need to fight terrorism and the need for a clear plan in Iraq so that we can focus our resources in the right ways to prevent it from again reaching our shores.

"America has a big job to do now. We must set reasonable goals to finish what we started and successfully turn over Iraqi security to Iraqis. We must deny terrorists the prize they are now seeking in Iraq. We must repair the damage done to our reputation. We must reform our intelligence system so we never go to war on false premises again. We must repair the breach with the Muslim world. And we must continue to fight terrorism wherever it exists."

Let me repeat that, "And we must continue to fight terrorism wherever it exists."

More recently, a statement on her presidential campaign website says:

"Senator Clinton takes very seriously the threats we face from terrorism. She believes President Bush's singular focus on Iraq has distracted him from waging the war on terror effectively and emboldened our enemies. As president, she will be tough and smart in combating terrorism."

Sen. Barack Obama is not giving terrorists a free pass, either. In a statement on his campaign website lays out his position, which is:

"Under his leadership America will lead in five specific ways: First, we will bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq and refocus on the critical challenges in the broader region. Second, we will rebuild and transform the military to meet 21st-century threats. Third, we will marshal a global effort to secure, destroy, and stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Fourth, we will renew the alliances and partnerships necessary to meet common challenges, such as terrorism and climate change. And fifth, we will strengthen impoverished, weak and ungoverned countries that have become the most fertile breeding grounds for transnational threats like terror and pandemic disease and the smuggling of deadly weapons."

Meisler seems to think that the best strategy is to sit around and wait for children around the world to grow up in poverty and disillusionment, surrounded by hatred for Americans, and then be recruited and trained by terrorist organizations. Obama would rather try to stop the spread of terrorist ideas, as he lays out in an April 23, 2007 speech.

And those are the ideas from only two of the Democratic candidates. (Feel free to add more links to other candidates below.)

The point is that Democrats are offering plenty of ideas for fighting terrorists. Meisler does them a disservice by promoting the idea that they have done nothing but criticize Bush.

Lord knows, there's plenty of need to do that, too.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Rogers' Response to War Protest Is Non-Sequitur


That's the only possible response to what Congressman Mike Rogers' staff had to say regarding an anti-war group's press conference Thursday.

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq is targeting the Brighton Republican for a series of protests this summer in hopes of getting him to split with George Bush's disastrous policy in Iraq, as other Republicans have begun to do. Two more defected just this week.

The Livingston Press & Argus could not get a response directly from Rogers for its story about the press conference in Friday's edition. He also ducked out of the Brighton 4th of July parade earlier this week.

But the Press & Argus quoted a Rogers' staffer as releasing a statement that said, "Congressman Rogers will continue to fully support our troops."

What, pray tell, does supporting the troops have to do with whether or not they should stay in Iraq and remain sitting ducks in a civil war between factions in that country?

If Rogers fully supports the troops, why doesn't he want to end the failed mission in Iraq and bring them home to their families, friends, homes, jobs, and lives?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Michigan Connection to Murdoch-Wall Street Journal Combo

Anyone familiar with the Fox Noise Channel's news shenanigans should be concerned about Rupert Murdoch's plans to take over the Wall Street Journal. Today (July 5, 2007), our good friends at Michigan Liberal have uncovered a Michigan connection to the journalistic nightmare unfolding before our eyes.

Michigan State University President M. Peter McPherson is chairman of the Dow Jones board, and former Michigan Gov. John Engler sits on the board.

Somehow, I'm not sure I trust John Engler to do the right thing in this matter, especially if he sees a chance to break a union somehow along the way.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Dems Show Up Republicans at Brighton Parade

Livingston County Democrats showed up their Republican counterparts at the Brighton 4th of July parade Wednesday (July 4, 2007) simply by showing up.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers and state Sen. Valde Garcia skipped the parade this year. (See previous post on Garcia.)

But Democrats turned out with their mechanical donkey, Chicago, who periodically kicked up its heels at the bidding of Party Chair Matt Evans.

Democrats handed out candy and occasionally shouted, "No More War!"

They were followed by members of the county-wide Coalition Against Privatization, a group of school custodians, cafeteria workers, and other support personnel which is lobbying against efforts to wipe out good-paying union jobs at local schools and turn the jobs over to low-wage workers. Hartland schools already has privatized custodial services. Howell schools is discussing the switch.

Marty Dewitt says Hartland has seen high turnover in the people who provide important services to school children.

Where's Valde?

Apparently, Sen. Valde Garcia had better things to do than to participate in Brighton's 4th of July parade on Wednesday (July 4, 2007). Although a Garcia car and sign were part of the parade, the Republican senator was no where to be seen.

You'd think Garcia would have plenty of time on his hands, what with the GOP-run state Senate taking a two-week vacation instead of dealing with the state budget crisis.

Was he scared off by the Michigan Liberal promise to pay $50 to anyone who snapped a picture of a Republican lawmaker near a sign taunting them about their lack of a work ethic?

We report, you decide.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Hiding the Truth at Press & Argus

I wondered how the Livingston Press & Argus might handle the news of George Bush's trampling on the American justice system yet again. Perhaps a round-up of reactions from Rep. Mike Rogers and Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, or maybe some people on the street interviews. Maybe a special column by Muddy Borehouse about how bad things happen to good people who go into politics. Then an editorial blasting the decision. Okay, I was hallucinating when I thought that last one might happen.

Yet, I was still surprised when I went to the P&A website, clicked on the "Nation/World" category, and saw this:

"NATION/WORLD: Libby faces 30 months in prison
CNN is reporting that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for lying to investigators about the leak of a CIA operative’s identity.The former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney was also fined $250,000. According to CNN, Libby plans to appeal the verdict."

They must be using a really low-speed internet over there.

Let Them Know You're Mad!

Mooncat over at the great blog "Left in Alabama" -- home of the folks dealing with their own Mike Rogers -- had a very practical approach to this jaw-dropping development in the Libby case:

The Alabama Democratic Party is doing some pushback on the Libby "almost pardon," as they should. Their press release is reproduced in the box below. Call your Congressmen and Senators and complain. Even if they are Republicans. Especially if they are Republicans.


Tips for contacting YOUR elected government officials:

(1) Please contact at least your 2 Senators and your Representative.

(2) If you email them and also have a fax machine, print your email message and fax it as well.

(3) Be polite and direct. You don't get points for eloquence when they are getting lots of mail. The magic is in numbers, so make it clear that you are unhappy with the commutation of Libby's sentence.

(4) Don't know what to say? RandySF has a good model letter. Also see what John Leek said.

(5) Calls are definitely worth the efort. In fairness, I think calls to the White House are a good idea since Bush is the one who commuted the sentence. Of course, Libby was Cheney's aid and I'm sure he is behind it, so call his office too.

(5) It makes news when these people in Washington get a lot of mail or calls. Last week Jeff Sessions was bragging that the Senate switchboard was shut down because of the number of calls from immigration bill opponents.

To paraphrase Confucius, It is better to send a single email than to sit and curse the Republicans...

Monday, July 2, 2007

Garcia Leading from the Rear on Pay Issue

When it comes to personally pitching it to help Michigan solve its $1.8 billion budget problem, Livingston County's state senator is waging a courageous battle from the sidelines.

Republican Valde Garcia told the Livingston Press & Argus, in a story for Monday's editions that he doesn't have any plans to give back 5 percent of his legislative salary before asking state employees to forego their pay raises for the next fiscal year.

"Anytime you take a part of salaries away from legislators, it is a minute amount," Garcia told the Livingston Press & Argus, completely missing the point that it's not the amount of the sacrifice but the symbol of sharing in the sacrifice that's important.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm turns back 5 percent of her salary. She told reporters Friday, according to the Press & Argus, that everyone needs to sacrifice in these tough times and that leaders should lead the way. Even Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton, says a legislative pay cut should be part of the state's budget solution.

Garcia's attitude, however, is that the sacrifices should come from the people at the bottom.

Wonder if that's the way he leads his troops as a colonel in the Army National Guard, staying safely in the Officers Club and letting the grunts bear the burdens and take the risks?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Romanticizing Rogers' Divorce

The Press & Argus is working hard to make sure that Rep. Mike Rogers suffers no political harm because of his pending divorce.

First there was the story of the divorce plans, with Rogers' plea for privacy slamming the door on any questions about the circumstances of a divorce by someone who claims to be protecting the sanctity of marriage. Next came the story (already blogged about here ) reassuring readers that there is no reason for Rogers to suffer politically due to his divorce because voters shouldn't care about that kind of thing.

Now Buddy Moorehouse is weighing in with a syrup-laden account of how it almost happened to him, too. Why, if he had finished first instead of third in that Republican primary five years ago, he, too, would have gone into politics and that could have destroyed his marriage.

Message: The divorce isn't Rogers' fault at all. Its the fault of the big-bad world of politics.

Some people already are weighing in on Moorehouse's column with the observation that divorce doesn't just "happen" to people like a car accident or a hurricane. People who truly believe in the santity of marriage participate actively in their relationships and have the free will to stay together or not. You would think that members of the party of personal responsiblity would understand that rather than blame the divorce on "politics."

Moorehouse assures us that Rogers and all the other divorced politicians are good people. Funny, when President Clinton and Senator Clinton had trouble in their marriage, we didn't hear that -- only that Clinton was the devil incarnate. And when the Clintons stayed together rather than take the easier road of divorce, Republicans gave them no support for upholding the sanctity of marriage. Instead, they -- especially Senator Clinton -- have been attacked as calculating political animals.

Furthermore, Moorehouse's assurances that Rogers is a good person who merely had a bad thing happen to him makes me wonder -- how does he know? Does the Livingston Press & Argus know details about the divorce that it's not sharing with the rest of us? Or is he just taking Rogers' word for it?

I'm sure that the Rogers family is suffering right now and I know (but not from personal experience) that divorce hurts. I also know that people get divorced every day. That's not the issue. The issue is that Rogers has been throwing stones at the way other people live their lives by opposing same sex marriage, abortion, and other choices that people make in their private lives. And all the time he has been willingly living in a glass house called the Republican Party that says people should be responsible for the choices they make and that marriage is holy.

Shouldn't the Press & Argus at least acknowledge Rogers' hypocrisy?