But this is also another in my continuing series on why the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sucks. Give a news organization a monopoply, and this is what you end up with, folks: anemic reporting, and cluelessness in the editorial boardroom.
Check out today's front-page story by Craig Gilbert:
Iron will brings perils, payoffs for SensenbrennerAnd so begins a relatively flattering piece on F. Jim. Really--I read the whole thing looking for the promised "perils." Seems the only "peril" is that he makes people mad. The story even includes a number of Democrats who must have been lined up at Craig Gilbert's door to praise the pompous jerk. "Oooooh, he's so even-handed," they say. "Aaaaah, he's so good at what he does."
He defends leadership style by showing results
When Jim Sensenbrenner is making news, it often means one thing. Somebody is ticked off. Sometimes it's him. Sometimes it's the Democrats. Sometimes it's his own side. But to the powerful House Judiciary Committee chairman, that isn't all bad.
"It is very hard to make a difference and actually change things if you have a reputation of 'going along to get along' for everything," said the Wisconsin Republican in a long interview about his event-filled chairmanship.
"People who cave too early simply because they like to see more 'smiles' end up failing at actually making the changes I think everybody who runs for office wants to accomplish," Sensenbrenner said.
Compare, now, the front page story in this morning's Chicago Tribune*:
Lawmaker prods court, raises browsThe story goes on for three web pages, providing solid reporting and thoughtful and varied analysis--as opposed to Gilbert's puff piece. The Trib notes that the appeals court issued a revised ruling specifically to explain why F. Jim was legally wrong on the issue, and how F. Jim the whined to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the matter. The Trib also provides a long and disturbing section on the context of F. Jim's interference--the long list of Republican's efforts to poke their noses in from Congress on judicial matters over the last several years.
Demands longer term in Chicago drug case
In an extraordinary move, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee privately demanded last month that the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago change its decision in a narcotics case because he didn't believe a drug courier got a harsh enough prison term.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), in a five-page letter dated June 23 to Chief Judge Joel Flaum, asserted that a June 16 decision by a three-judge appeals court panel was wrong. [. . .]
[Jay] Apperson, who is chief counsel of a House Judiciary subcommittee, argues that Sensenbrenner is simply exercising his judicial oversight responsibilities. But some legal experts believe the action by the Judiciary Committee chairman, who is an attorney, is a violation of House ethics rules, which prohibit communicating privately with judges on legal matters, as well as court rules that bar such contact with judges without contacting all parties.
Further, the letter may be an intrusion on the Constitution's separation-of-powers doctrine, or, at least, the latest encroachment by Congress upon the judiciary, analysts said.
David Zlotnick, a law professor at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island and an expert on federal sentencing law, said, "I think it's completely inappropriate for a congressman to send a letter to a court telling them to change a ruling."
However, Stanley Brand, a Washington, D.C., attorney and former House counsel, said: "I don't think it's appropriate, but I don't know if it rises to the level of an ethical violation. It's unseemly. It's not something members ought to do, but they do it. . . . The context is troubling."
I wonder if maybe Craig Gilbert should re-think the flattery: He notes that F. Jim gets compared to a rottweiller or pit bull. Jackal is more like it.
[* Login to the Trib: kos@dailykos, dailykos]