Thursday, April 28, 2005

*Everyone* is dumping on Sensenbrenner!

As a follow-up to yesterday's post about F. Jim and staff's unconscionable re-writing of Democratic amendments meant to protect innocent people, calling those innocent people "sexual predators."

Today, the blogosphere is a-buzz with disapproval. I thought I would point you to a few of my favorite bloggers and their responses:
  • Kevin Drum, at the Washington Monthly: "But that won't stop me from noting the spectacular temper tantrum thrown by Judiciary Committee Republicans yesterday."
  • Barbara O'Brien, at Mahablog: "[W]e're just looking at pettiness here. Or are we? It's possible we're looking at the work of someone--and be clear the someone is a conservative Republican--so demented that he/she believes Democrats want to protect sexual predators from prosecution, and the amendments were re-written to reveal the Dems' "true intentions." Farfetched, I know, but people on the edge of psychosis do stuff like this, and seems to me lots of righties are dancing close to the edge these days."
  • Digby, in a post F. Jim would fine for bad language, at Hullaballoo: "Quick, somebody ask head security mom, Cokie Roberts, if she thinks it's ok for Republicans to act like juvenile delinquents on the taxpayers dime."
  • Finally, Sensenbrenner opponent Byan Kennedy: "I am shocked that Sensenbrenner would stoop so low as to re-write the amendments and completely alter the proceedings of the committee.  Where is his respect for the legislative process?  Once again, we see that Mr. Sensenbrenner acts like a petulant child.  He has let his power as a committee chair go to his head.  This kind of puerile behavior is like a high school student changing someone’s grades in the teacher’s grade book and then getting mad because they got caught.  Sensenbrenner needs to grow up and start representing the people of the 5th district, not his own selfish interests."

In comments, feel free to link to any other bloggers or "real" news outlets reporting this story. And while you're at it, give F. Jim's office a call and ask him why he is lying about Democrats' amendments and engaging in this kind of childish behavior: (262) 784-1111 (district office); 1-800-242-1119 (the HOTLINE for those outside of the Milwaukee metro area); (202) 225-5101 (DC office).

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Sensnbrenner must think he's King

We had a revolution about this sort of thing. I'll let Rep. Louise Slaughter give you the skinny:
I want to talk for a minute about another abuse which has occurred in this chamber, a personal affront to three of our colleagues I have never witnessed in my near twenty years serving in this House.

The Rules Committee discovered yesterday that the Judiciary Committee Report on this very bill, which was authored by the Majority Staff, contained amendment summaries which had been re-written by committee staff for the sole purpose of distorting the original intent of the authors.

This Committee Report took liberty to mischaracterize and even falsify the intent of several amendments offered in Committee by Democratic Members of this body.

At least five amendments to this bill, which were designed to protect the rights of family members and innocent bystanders from prosecution under this bill, were rewritten as amendments designed to protect sexual predators from prosecution and were then included in the committee report as if that was the original intent of the authors. The thing is, sexual predators were not mentioned anywhere in any of these amendments.

These amendments were no more about sexual predators then they were about terrorists or arsonists or any other criminal class in our society.

These amendments were about the rights of grandmothers and siblings and clergy and innocent bystanders.

I asked the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee [our very own F. Jim Sensenbrenner] about this deception yesterday afternoon at the Rules Committee hearing.

And instead of decrying what I certainly expected would be revealed as a mistake by an overzealous staffer...The Chairman stood by those altered amendment descriptions.

[F. Jim Sensenbrenner] made very clear to the Rules Committee that the alterations to these members’ amendments were deliberate.

When pressed as to why his committee staff took such an unprecedented action, the Chairman immediately offered up his own anger over the manner in which Democrats had chosen to debate and oppose this unfortunate piece of legislation we have before us today.

In fact…He said, and I quote... "You don’t like what we wrote about your amendments, and we don’t like what you said about our bill."

To falsely rewrite the intent of an amendment submitted by another member, to intentionally distort its description as being designed to protect sexual predators, is no different than accusing a fellow member of Congress as being an apologist for sexual predators themselves.

That is in effect what the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee has done here, with all deliberation.

And he has ensured that these amendment descriptions will be encapsulated in the record for all time by including those unfair and incorrect amendment summaries in the Committee report.

This is a new low for this chamber, Mr. Speaker.
And given all the recent news about Tom DeLay, the House has a pretty low standard already.

Reader JAB from over at the Daily Aneurysm also comments, as well as points us to Raw Story (watch out for the blankety-blank pop-up ads), which has actual samples of how F. Jim imperiously distorted the language used to descibe Democrats' amendments.

2006 cannot come soon enough, eh?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Vacation, had to get away

As a follow-up to our post a few days back, ABC News is also reporting on privately-funded trips by members of Congress. Guess who leads the way?
From the boulevards of Paris to the beaches of Puerto Rico, members of Congress — Democrat and Republican — have taken more than $16 million in trips paid by private sources in the last five years, according to a report released by PoliticalMoneyLine, an independent research group.

At the top of the list, at least monetarily, sits Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who has taken $167,000 worth of trips.
Sometimes Wisconsinites complain that F. Jim had "gone Washington." I think this cements the case: He spends so much time jetting around on the dime of people who never elected him that he barely has time for the people at home. (And when he is home, he doesn't always treat us well. See the post below.)

Seems like it's time to send F. Jim a message: We don't a Washington Congressman--we want a Wisconsin congressman. I say it's time to put F. Jim on permanent vacation.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Senselessbrenner talks out of both sides of his two faces

On Saturday April 23, 2005, F. James Sensenbrenner spoke to people at the Glendale Public Library, which was primarily composed of Democrats. At that meeting he made comments claiming that the Judicial, Legislative and Executive branches should be kept separate and independent (I believe it was in response to a question regarding what was going on in the Senate, and that he being a member of the House of Representatives shouldn’t have a say in what they do, even while he blames the Senate for not moving forward on legislation passed by the House.) I made the comment that he should explain that to President Bush.

Later at the Menomonee Falls Village Hall meeting which was attended by only about 8 people, (only two of which were Democrats, US), Sensenbrenner commented that people needed to understand that majority means majority, and that majority rules should prevail. (That was in response to a question regarding the “holdup” of current judicial nominees, which, of course, is referring back to the gridlock in the SENATE - something that the Republicans did with Clinton’s judicial nominees in 1999 and 2000. The Senate does not have simple majority rules, because the original framers of the Constitution decided that the minority should have the ability to block the majority from passing legislation, unless there was at least a 60-40 vote.) So much for the separation, and independence, of the three branches of government when playing up to a partisan crowd.

At the Shorewood Town Hall meeting prior to the Easter Break, (the afternoon of the day that he had faced substantial opposition from the labor unions in Wauwatosa), Senselessbrenner refused to follow his own rules that he was so adamant about during the early part of the meeting, when people were willing to waive their place in the sign up list to allow people to speak ahead of them because they weren’t able to wait through the entire meeting to speak. (Sensenbrenner would tell them that if they weren’t in his Congressional District, they couldn’t speak until the end. He also claimed that a Hispanic woman didn’t live in his district and wouldn’t be allowed to speak until much later, even though she did live in his district.) Towards the end of the meeting, Sensenbrenner proclaimed that because he had made an agreement with the Village of Shorewood, (that we would be out of the building by a certain time), he only had time for one more question. Both my wife and I were on the list, but Sensenbrenner wouldn’t call on us, and when he called on someone who had already left the meeting, he fumbled around because he couldn’t find anyone else that he WANTED to call on. Then someone in the audience, who appeared to be a SHILL, raised his hand and asked to be heard, and Sensenbrenner immediately called on him, without question, even though he didn’t appear to be on the list. (He claimed he did, but I doubt it.) The SHILL immediately set the stage by asking a question of the audience, “Raise your hands if you believe in free choice.” Most people were surprised by this question, or perhaps puzzled by it, so there weren’t too many takers on it. Then he proceeded to go on a rant, proclaiming that: ”I’m glad you believe in free choice, because I also believe in free choice. And I believe that I should have free choice in deciding what to do with MY MONEY. I believe that I should be able to invest my money as I choose and that I can do it better than Social Security can.” He went on to praise Senselessbrenner and denounce the rest of us for being so much in favor of taxing the rich.

I got the distinct impression that Senselessbrenner, having been embarrassed by the opposition earlier in the day, made a few emergency calls to get someone to show up in support of him during the afternoon session. I also get the impression that he will probably do more of that, and do it in advance to get more Republican turnout to his Town Hall meetings in the future.

During that meeting and others prior to the Easter Break, Senselessbrenner played to the largely Democratic crowd, claiming that he was against drilling in ANWR. Of course, the Energy Bill, which he voted FOR last Thursday, included a provision which allowed drilling in ANWR. On his website, Senselessbrenner talks about how getting something passed is better than nothing, and claims that he was opposed to the provision that would not allow the removal of MTBE from reformulated gasoline, but doesn’t mention ANWR AT ALL. After the Easter Break at his Glendale Town Hall, I pointed out that drilling in ANWR was included in the Energy Bill that Senselessbrenner voted FOR. He vehemently claimed that he had fought to remove the ANWR provision from the Energy Bill. But given his anti-environmental stances against even REPUBLICANS in his own district, it appears that he is just putting on a dog and pony show to the faithful or uninformed. Those who have been paying attention to the Republican bills going through the past several Congresses under Republican control, are well aware that issues like ANWR that might get Republican Congressmen in hot water in their home districts, are intentionally bundled with larger bills so that they are lost in the paperwork. Most people are unaware that these issues have been voted on, in addition to the fact that it gives the Republicans an easy way to claim that they “fought” to remove the provision in the larger bill, but that the larger bill was a "better but imperfect compromise".

Sadly, Senselessbrenner didn’t take that position when refusing to allow the Amber Alert bill to move out of his committee and go to vote on the House floor several years ago, because he claimed that he wanted to include stricter penalties for those who committed kidnap, rape and murder against children, and make it “better”. During his almost year and a half holding up that emergency alert bill, it has been estimated by experts (including Clint Van Zandt, ex-FBI profiler), that there is a child kidnapped, raped and murdered almost every other day, every year in the United States. That works out to about 180 per year or almost 270 during the time that Senselessbrenner delayed that legislation. Most of those children killed were killed within 72 hours of abduction. And what did Senselessbrenner’s stronger legislation accomplish? Ask the families of the two recent victims in Florida, where Florida is now looking into creating even stronger legislation than Senselessbrenner’s Federal Bill, which didn’t prevent repeat offenders from getting out and doing it again