Friday, December 08, 2006

Jim gets demoted

Outgoing House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner will relinquish the gavel when the Republicans become the minority party in January. He was reportedly seeking a position as the Ranking Member on the committee in the new Congress. Unfortunately for Jim, that position will go to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).

To add insult to injury, Sensenbrenner didn't get a Ranking Member spot on any other committees. He has been serving in the House of Representatives since 1979.

WisPolitics has the list of new Ranking Members in PDF format.

Crossposted at Brewtown Politico.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sensenbrenner 'wrong on too much';

Journal Sentinel endorses Kennedy

Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial:
It's time to send the congressman home

Two years ago, we recommended Jim Sensenbrenner for another term representing Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District. Today, we simply cannot. Sensenbrenner has been wrong on too much, from an immigration policy that puts him at odds with much of his own party and the business community to failure to exert meaningful oversight over White House domestic spying policies.

We recommend his opponent, Democrat Bryan Kennedy. He will be a competent, thoughtful congressman who can restore a sense of dignity and balance to the 5th District. It's time for that after years of folly from Sensenbrenner.

Sensenbrenner has too often been an obstructionist to good policy. Given the reins of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, he had a chance to lead for the common good during a congressional session when few representatives had even a notion of what that meant. Too often, he didn't.

Sensenbrenner was wrong on immigration. His enforcement-only plan included making felons of undocumented immigrants and a useless 700-mile fence that will do nothing to solve this national problem. Worse for Republicans, his obstinacy split his own party and cost it a rare opportunity to significantly broaden its base.

Sensenbrenner was wrong on the USA Patriot Act. We need many of its provisions in this era of terrorism, but the version he championed strode upon the liberty of every American.

Sensenbrenner was wrong on Real ID, which will cost states millions of dollars to implement and which fixed something that wasn't broken.

Sensenbrenner was wrong not to dig deeper into the National Security Agency's domestic spying program. Sensenbrenner sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales but didn't bother with the real spade work.

Sensenbrenner was wrong to waste taxpayers' money by taking more than $160,000 in junkets since 1994, not to mention the more than $200,000 in world travel paid for by lobbyists and think tanks over the past six years.

Sensenbrenner was wrong to push bills that would make it harder for police agencies to track illegal guns and to crack down on rogue gun dealers.

Sensenbrenner was wrong to indict Milwaukee as "fast becoming the murder capital of the U.S." and wrong to lash out at Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, calling him a "crybaby" for having the brass to criticize Congress. It's but one example of the congressman's increasingly belligerent and unproductive tone.

Give Sensenbrenner credit for pushing to renew the Voting Rights Act and for bucking the administration on ethics reform. He was right about the risk for fraud in relief money sent to the Gulf Coast for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

But those are meager accomplishments.

Like Sensenbrenner, Kennedy favors tough border security but, unlike Sensenbrenner, also a path to legalization for the millions of illegal immigrants now here. He favors incentives to promote the entry of whole families, which he says would force immigrants up the wage scale, and bigger fines for businesses that employ illegal immigrants.

Kennedy, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor, favors a flexible withdrawal from Iraq but wants the generals to make those decisions. He notes, correctly, that the real fight is against terrorism.

He favors targeted tax cuts for the middle class, arguing that the Bush tax cuts missed that mark.

Some voters may be put off by Kennedy's decision to pay himself, a campaign staffer and a baby sitter from campaign funds. But if middle-class candidates are going to run, accommodations must be made. The Federal Elections Commission allows what Kennedy did. And keep in mind: Sensenbrenner is paid by the taxpayers while he campaigns.

No doubt, the district loses something in experience and seniority if Sensenbrenner goes. But a return to more moderate positions and tone, especially on immigration and guns, is well worth that price.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Big Jim digs deep for NRCC -- $100,000

Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner is making an investment to try to remain a part of the majority in the House. He's like to chair a committee again, no doubt.

The tight-fisted Sensenbrenner has given the National Republican Congressional Committee $100,000. Of course, it's from his campaign account, not his wallet. Still, it's a sign he wants to try to buy a spot in leadership if the Rs happen to prevail.

CQ has the story and list of other big donors.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Who's the tall nerdy guy in the suit?

Hint: What's the name of this blog?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

High (dis)honors for Sensenbrenner

F. Jim Sensenbrenner has made it big -- #2 on Rolling Stone's list of 10 Worst Congressmen.

He's topped only by Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Spice Boys whistled for unnecessary roughness

Jay Bullock -- on this blog he's known as The Founder -- says on his folkbum blog that Sensenbrenner, who starts out with huge advantages of wealth and incumbency in his reelection campaign against Bryan Kennedy, has one more advantage. It's the Spice Boys, who are piling on at every opportunity.

If a Tree Falls in the Forest

Sometimes family matters have to be attended to and as much as I wanted to attend the 5th Congressional District debate last night, my wife's birthday came first.

Having missed this and being keenly interested in the proceedings, first thing this morning I tore open the Metro section of the Journal to find coverage of the event.


Well, maybe they saw fit to put it in the front section.


My guess is the shrinking space in the news hole dictated passing on the second debate in two days between Bryan, F. Jim and the Green candidate.

That's too bad, because the second debate in Fox Point is 180 degrees from the first one in Brookfield and makes for a different dynamic. Plus the first one took place in the afternoon and the second one in the evening.

My thought is that the second one would make for much more dynamic coverage with more impassioned reactions from this more liberal audience. This leads to the speculation if the Journal even thinks this race warrants coverage at all and has succumbed to the conventional wisdom -- or their version of it, despite that Bryan is in reach of the seat. Folkbum ( has a great take on this.

Look at the situation. The horse race rules compel the news media to act like the GOP could catch up to the Democrats in the grab for Congress, even though the odds looks very bad for the Republicans. Check out Paul Krugman's column in todays NY Times.

But the Journal slogs along, discounting all possibilities that we do have a race going on in the 5th. Can't hearten the Democrats, can we.

Too bad. Newspapers should challenge the conventional wisdom, which leads me to wonder if the Journal will endorse one of the most unrepresentative of all of the Representatives in Congress for re-election.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Sensenbrenner and the NRA

Sensenbrenner and his colleagues ought to be ashamed for rushing to protect rogue gun dealers at the expense of public safety.
-- An editorial on Sensenbrenner's shameless sellout to the gun nuts.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Two public forums this week

I didn't say debate, because I can't tell for certain whether these are debates, forums, or just back-to-back speeches, but Big Jim Sensenbrenner and Bryan Kennedy will at least be in the same room twice in the next two days, probably for the only times during the entire campaign.

Both events are open to the public.

On Wednesday, Oct. 11, they'll take part in a forum at the Brookfield Public Safety Building, 2100 N. Calhoun Rd., from 10 to 11;30 a.m. It's sponsored by the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans.

On Thursday, Oct. 12, they will participate in a forum sponsored by the Milwaukee Jewish Council for Community Relations at Congregation Shalom, 7630 N. Santa Monica Blvd.,Fox Point, at 7 p.m.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Two Faces of F. Jim

His votes may say "stay home", but his investments call out "ya'll come on over."

Talk about hedging your bets. Congressman Sensenbrenner may be sending bills to the floor of the House to block illegal immigration, but he pays his bills with investments that use illegals according to an analysis by Roberto Lovato of New American Media.

A rummage of his portfolio reveals:

(T)he congressman has invested in companies that have directly hired or subcontracted with employers who hire undocumented workers" and "stands to benefit from investments in companies contracted by the federal government to provide services he has proposed as part of his immigration reform legislation.

Oh yes, Halliburton is in there too:

Drawing especially strong criticism are the $86,500 in stocks Sensenbrenner holds in the construction and infrastructure colossus Halliburton. The Texas-based giant has been the subject of Senate hearings into its labor practices in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. News reports and several panelists at Senate hearings have stated that Halliburton used subcontractors hiring hundreds, perhaps thousands of undocumented workers as part of no-bid federal contracts to cleanup Belle Chasse Naval base and other military facilities in the devastated region. Halliburton has also secured a $385 million Department of Homeland Security contract to build gigantic immigrant detention centers near the U.S.-Mexico border and stands to secure further contracts from proposals to reopen closed military bases to house deportees and detainees.

He may claim he has no illegals in his immediate employ at his real home in the Washington DC area, but as Deepthroat put it, "follow the money."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

NRA calls the shots for Sensenbrenner

Gregory Stanford's op ed column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner coddles gun dealers who coddle criminals.

The suburban-Milwaukee Republican played a pivotal role in last week's passage by the House of a bill that law enforcement officials across the land warn would keep federal agents from shutting down rogue dealers.

Sensenbrenner, who has bashed Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett for the city's murder rate, is shirking his own responsibility to reduce that rate. He is thwarting law enforcement efforts to disarm outlaws.
Read the rest.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sensenbrenner goes to the dogs

Sensenbrenner is single-handedly holding up a bill, in the final days of the Congressional session, to crack down on cockfighting and dogfighting -- a bill sponsored by 324 House members, including Mark Green, F. Jim's Wisconsin colleague and candidate for governor.

His resistance brought a full page newspaper ad in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday, sponsored by the Humane Society. It says F. Jim's on the wrong side of the fence.

What is it about Sensenbrenner and fences anyway?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Protecting the northern border

NY Public Broadcasting:
Deal to Delay Passport Requirement Fails

BUFFALO (2006-09-27) A deal reached in Congress Tuesday to delay the passport requirement along the northern border has fallen apart.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter says lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreed early Tuesday to delay the passport requirement along the U.S.-Canada border until June 2009.

But just before the vote, Slaughter says Wisconsin Republican James Sensenbrenner objected and convinced House Speaker Dennis Hastert to remove the extension.

Killing the delay at the last minute angered members of the Western New York Congressional delegation.

"This one really took us by surprise," Slaughter said.

Congress approved the passport requirement in 2004 as a way to prevent terrorism and crackdown on illegal immigration. It is scheduled to take effect in January 2008.

The passport requirement is causing widespread anxiety in Western New York, Southern Ontario and other northern border communities that depend on frequent travel to and from Canada for their local economy.
Folks probably won't be too happy about it in Detroit, northern Minnesota, or other northern outposts, either.

UPDATE:The Canadians are unhappy, not that Sensenbrenner would care. CanWest News Service reports:
WASHINGTON - Congressman James Sensenbrenner is a ruddy-faced politician known around Capitol Hill as one of Washington's most mercurial and uncompromising lawmakers.

A 28-year veteran of the House of Representatives, the border security-obsessed congressman from Wisconsin is perhaps best known for authoring immigration legislation which last year triggered massive street protests among Latinos from Los Angeles to New York.

As of Thursday night, Sensenbrenner was also the lone Republican leader blocking legislation to delay new U.S. rules for Canadian travellers that have incensed Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
UPDATE: The bill passed, but Sensenbrenner won a concession. CanWest reports:
WASHINGTON - Legislation to delay new border identification rules for Canadians traveling to the United States has survived a backroom power struggle among congressional Republicans, clearing the way for its final approval in Congress.

The House of Representatives passed the legislation 412 to six in a vote Friday evening, and the Senate was expected to approve the bill later Friday or early today.

The agreement, reached after four days of high-stakes politicking on Capitol Hill, will give Canadians up until the middle of 2009 before they must obtain a passport or tamper-proof equivalent document to cross land borders into the U.S.

But in order to appease the most vocal opponent of the border ID delay House judiciary committee chairman James Sensenbrenner Republican leaders publicly urged the Bush administration to implement the controversial program well before the new deadline.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Profile in Pandering

By Keith Schmitz

Today’s editorial in the New York Times charges that many in Congress are being truly soft on crime with the consideration of a bill which would make it harder to control the flow of guns used in crimes.
House sycophants of the National Rifle Association are aiming this week to hobble the federal government’s power to revoke the licenses of rogue gun dealers who arm the underworld. A shameless proposal would replace existing law with wrist-slapping penalties and an impossible definition of “willful intent” that would hamstring efforts to close lawless marketers.

This shameless pandering unfortunately has consequences to society.
What makes this gun decontrol measure truly brazen is recent data from the Justice Department, which reported a startling jump of nearly 50 percent last year in gun crime victims, to 477,000.

You can’t outlaw the NRA, but this is yet another example of why we as Americans should start ostracizing this organization, which is largely made up of good people but is run by a band of baboons:
No one can yet say whether this is related to an earlier N.R.A. “victory” — the decision of the Bush administration and Republican leaders in Congress not to renew the 10-year-old ban on the sale of military assault weapons to civilians. Any analysis is hampered by another gun lobby “victory” — Congress’s barring the federal gun control agency from searching out criminal trends in its own records of weapon sales.

The editorial closes with a smack down on F. Jim, that once again brings home the national embarrassment for those of us living in the 5th CD that have to bear having him as our Congressman.
Representative James Sensenbrenner, the Wisconsin Republican so alarmed of late about threats from the immigrant tide at the nation’s borders, shows no comparable concern about armed thugs shooting people in the inner cities. “Crybaby!” snarled Mr. Sensenbrenner in excoriating the mayor of Milwaukee for testifying on behalf of more, not less, gun control.

Of course Charlie Sykes has been cheerleading Sensenbrenner’s feud with Barrett while conveniently overlooking that the issue of crime is only fueled by this bill, which is a profile in pandering. Sykes makes a bogus claim that civic leaders have been trying to put a happy face on our local crime problem while neglecting that problem. But since when has Cheap-Shot Charlie ever stood up for anything positive?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sensenbrenner ducks debate

Sensenbrenner a no-show at La Casa debate
Spokesman: Forum sponsors consistently oppose congressman

WAUKESHA - Incumbent U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner was in Waukesha County on Saturday, but he wasn’t at a candidates’ forum for those running for his seat because the longtime congressman viewed the proposed debate as not "true and fair," his press secretary said.

Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who currently represents the state’s 5th District in Congress, declined the invitation to participate in the community forum at La Casa de Esperanza in Waukesha, instead serving as the keynote speaker for the grand opening of the Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Riverwalk in Delafield.

Raj Bharwani, Sensenbrenner’s press secretary, explained the decision.
I'm sure the explanation was a dandy, but you can't read the rest unless you are a Waukesha Freeman subscriber.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


'Torture is just all right with me'

Sensenbrenner maneuvers the Bush torture bill through his committee.

Pundit Nation has details.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sensenbrenner, GOP offer "show bills"

Ruben Navarrette Jr., of the San Diego Union-Tribune says Sensenbrenner & Co. are pushing 'just for show' bills on immigration:
-- I DON'T FULLY understand how Congress works. But after the latest round of gimmicks by House Republicans over immigration reform, I have a pretty good idea of why it doesn't.

My first hint that Congress was dysfunctional came a few months ago during an interview with House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, a major player in the immigration debate and the author of an enforcement-only bill passed by the House last year.

Sensenbrenner said that he opposed amnesty and believed that Congress should first strive for border security. He also said that the illegal immigrants who were already here had to return home, yet once there, he might support expediting their re-entry into the United States through legal channels.

Fine. There's nothing wrong with any of that. What's wrong is that Sensenbrenner and other House Republican hard-liners don't know how to take "yes" for an answer, and that raises questions about their motives.
Read the rest.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sensenbrenner steps in it

-- Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

All around, a bad press day for F. Jim. Two bad editorials and now this:
Civic leaders rebuke Sensenbrenner
They criticize 'murder capital' comment

Three civic leaders slapped back at U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner on Thursday, calling his statement that Milwaukee "is rapidly becoming the murder capital of the U.S." untrue and harmful.

"To digress into this kind of name-calling is distressing," said Dean Amhaus, president of Spirit of Milwaukee, a group that seeks to promote the city. "Especially for a congressman who represents this area."

Julia Taylor, president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, a business-led civic organization, said: "Certainly the congressman's comments could have a very chilling effect on what we're trying to do to build our region. I also don't think they're accurate."

The city has crime problems, Taylor said, "but to say that we're becoming the murder capital of the U.S. is damaging. It's inflammatory."

Doug Neilson, president and chief executive officer of VISIT Milwaukee, the city's convention and tourism bureau, said: "The comment is not true. In fact, our homicide rate has gone down to date compared to last year. . . . It doesn't help our economic development efforts to bring tourists and businesses to the region when we have negative and untrue statements being made by public officials."

Sensenbrenner, for his part, didn't give an inch. He said in Washington that his remark was accurate - although FBI figures show that two dozen cities with populations of 10,000 or more had higher murder rates than Milwaukee in 2005, and that homicides this year are running 14% behind the pace of last year.
Read the rest.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A double-barreled blast on gun bill

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial page lets Congressman F. Jim Sensenbrenner have it with both barrels in its Friday edits for his support of and defense of a bill to keep secret the sources of guns used in crimes, an NRA-written bill if there ever was one.

A bad bill:
Sensenbrenner should disassociate himself from this soft-on-crime measure, which only makes the gun lobby and the outlaw class happy...

Sensenbrenner ... claimed opponents of the bill were trying "to take guns away from law-abiding citizens." Wrong again. The ability to trace guns to the initial buyers and to stores is hardly confiscation.

The National Rifle Association considers the bill a top priority, the Journal Sentinel's Daniel W. Reilly reports, because it would protect gun dealers from lawsuits filed by cities by restricting access to a federal database. But this Congress already has set the bar higher for suits against members of the gun industry than for civil action involving all other businesses. Does the gun lobby want total immunity from any conceivable lawsuit? No industry deserves that...

Over eight years, the NRA's political action fund contributed $12,200, in 13 installments, to Sensenbrenner's campaign fund, according to the Federal Election Commission. What's more, the NRA gives Sensenbrenner top grades. But does this mean that the congressman must do all the organization's bidding?

A graceless display:
... That would be his response to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's criticism of the gun bill Sensenbrenner helped push through the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Aside from the childish nature of the response, the more worrisome thing was its tone, which was reminiscent of the divisive politics practiced so often in the past that set city against suburb...

... it's so discouraging that a politician of national prominence would lash out at his own community. Because, make no mistake about it, Milwaukee is his community. Yes, Sensenbrenner represents the collar suburbs. But his suburban constituents benefit from a strong, healthy Milwaukee just as Milwaukee benefits from strong suburban areas. We're all in this together.

With politicians and business leaders across the region working to overcome years of internecine warfare between Milwaukee and its suburbs, Sensenbrenner's comments strike us as thoughtless...

Sensenbrenner is entitled to his view, of course. But he's not entitled to wage old wars of division without being called out.

It was wrong. And somehow, we think, even the congressman knows it.

Barrett calls Sensenbrenner out on guns

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is the quintessential nice guy who almost never gets his Irish dander up. But Jim Sensenbrenner managed to set him off by whoring off again to the NRA, as the Journal Sentinel reports:
Taking it personally
Sensenbrenner, Barrett quarrel over gun bill


Washington - The mayor of Milwaukee and the congressman representing most of its suburbs engaged in a heated and somewhat personal long-distance exchange Wednesday over crime and its effect on the city.

The argument began with House Judiciary Committee passage of legislation that would prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from releasing data used to trace guns used in crimes back to the dealers who sold them. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Menomonee Falls, is chairman of the committee.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called the approval of the bill "appalling," saying that "the federal government is turning its back on our fight to get illegal guns off the street."

Sensenbrenner, who voted for the bill, called Barrett a "crybaby" who is "attempting to use legislation pending in Congress to cover up his

White supremacists for Sensenbrenner

You probably won't see that on a bumper sticker, but that's what the Shepherd Express, Milwaukee's alternative weekly, reports:
White Supremacists Rally Behind Sensenbrenner

Immigration message loved by hate groups

The Anti-Defamation League has warned that white supremacists have been rallying behind the right-wing anti-immigration movement. It’s no surprise, then, that these hate groups have particularly embraced Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, the controversial Wisconsin Republican behind a harsh immigration proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Congressman James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin has been the most vocal mainstream politician standing up against the flood of illegals puring (sic) across our borders,” reads a post on, an online forum for neo-Nazis.

“Fellow Whites In Wisconsin be sure In November to get out and vote for Sensenbrenner,” reads another from a self-described “Proud German-American from Wisconsin.”

Sensenbrenner’s proposal has even won him the approval of Wisconsin’s Nationalist Coalition, a white-power organization. “Because this has been the first step taken regarding illegal immigrants in this country the Nationalist Coalition supports the actions of Mr. Sensenbrenner,” Stephen Chadwick of the Coalition wrote in an e-mail.

“In short, I support Mr. Sensenbrenner,” Chadwick continued, “but I am sure that our endorsement will mean little to nothing to him nor would it carry him in the elections.”

Monday, August 28, 2006

'Sensenbrenner fooled no one' in NH

Add the conservative Union Leader of Manchester, N.H. to the list of critics of Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner's immigration hearings. An editorial:

Can you hear us now? Congressmen needed to listen

THE U.S. HOUSE Judiciary Committee held what it called an "immigration field hearing" in Concord last Thursday. But about the only hearing being done was by the audience.

Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., said he was invited to Concord by Rep. Charlie Bass. Supposedly, the committee came to hear testimony about illegal immigration. In reality, it came to give testimony.

Of the five speakers, all were pre-selected by the committee and only one was from New Hampshire. Members of the public who showed up were not allowed to address the committee. When people applauded and cheered one speaker, Sensenbrenner informed them that they could be removed.

Clearly, this was no hearing, it was a traveling road show, a campaign event disguised as a public hearing.

Of course, Sensenbrenner fooled no one. The folks who showed up knew perfectly well what was going on. This is New Hampshire, after all.

We agree with the general point Sensenbrenner came here to make, which is that illegal immigration is a serious problem that must be brought under control. But he would have done better to have an actual public hearing instead of trying to trick the public into thinking they were getting one.

Next time, we hope he will remember that the people of New Hampshire are more politically savvy than he thinks. If members of Congress are going to come here to hold a "hearing," we expect that they will be the ones doing the listening.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Phony immigration hearings flop

As the Sensenbrenner Judiciary Committee circus heads for its last "hearing" on immigration reform on Sept. 1 in Dubuque (Iowa is thinking of walling off the border), it appears the road show has fizzled.

It has probably accomplished its purpose of stalling Congressional action and getting some media coverage on the issue in places with contested elections. But public interest in the hearings -- and perhaps in the issue -- has waned, and the hearings did not excite the anti-immigrant crowd the way they were intended to.

Americans have short attention spans. Even House members have quit showing up.

AP reports:
People don't pay attention to these things, except the C-SPAN junkies," said Gary Jacobson, an expert in congressional politics at the University of California, San Diego. "It's not surprising that it's fizzled."

Democrats and immigrant groups have questioned the need for the hearings because such meetings are typically held before legislation is passed _ not after. Critics call the hearings an election-year tactic to delay negotiations on the competing immigration bills passed by the House and Senate.

Many House members have shown waning interest in the meetings, preferring to campaign during the August recess or go on vacation, Jacobson said.

A hearing in San Diego drew just two congressmen, even though it is a border city often described as a crucible of immigration politics. Another gathering in Dalton, Ga., attracted just three representatives.

A sparsely attended hearing in El Paso, Texas, was held in the dark and rebroadcast on C-SPAN with a note reading: "This hearing was held in a theater with lighting problems."

Another gathering scheduled for Friday in upstate New York was canceled with one week's notice. A spokesman for the Judiciary Committee blamed logistical difficulties getting members to the meeting from a panel in Concord, N.H., that took place the previous day.
Sensenbrenner, who's responsible for this massive waste of taxpayer dollars, naturally is pleased as punch with the hearings:
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said the meetings allowed lawmakers "to hear testimony from local people, as well as to talk with them informally."
The fact is, the only people who testified were a handful who had been invited. There was no chance for local people to testify. Maybe Sensenbrenner heard from them informally when they were driving his cab or cleaning his hotel room. AP notes:
But even some who agree with the House GOP's hardline stance against illegal immigration gave mixed reviews to the hearings, which generally involved Homeland Security officials, academics and activists discussing the issue.

Ron De Jong, spokesman for the activist group, said he would have liked more accessible venues and an opportunity for audience members to speak.

"I would have provided a forum for citizens to speak," De Jong said. "Give them 90 seconds."
But that might have spoiled the show. The last thing these hearings were intended to do was to hear from the public.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

'Immigration policy, not politics'

He's a travelin' man, and F. Jim Sensenbrenner's road show on immigration keeps drawing flak wherever it goes.

People in New Hampshire -- where illegal immigrants would seem more likely to be Canadians than Mexicans -- say they want to discuss immigration policy, not politics.

AP reports.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Road show, but no action on immigration

An editorial from the News Times of Danbury CT:

Congress talks about reform, but fails to act

Immigration reform has been put on the back burner in Washington; congressional leaders think the issue is too controversial to handle in an election year.

But that doesn't mean the politics of immigration has been put on the back burner. Indeed, Republican leaders in the House, who hold the majority and are in charge of scheduling action on legislation, are having a great time with an immigration roadshow they've organized.

It's much easier to talk about illegal immigration than it is to actually do something about illegal immigration.

Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, went to El Paso, Texas, to stage a public hearing on immigration.

Sensenbrenner told those in attendance that he was in Texas to hear whether the public wants the U.S. government to "consult with a foreign government when taking steps to strengthen the security of our borders."

That foreign government is Mexico, and Sensenbrenner claims supporters of the comprehensive immigration reform legislation approved in the Senate want to let Mexico run the show and let illegal immigrants overrun the United States.

Sensenbrenner says the Senate reform measure is an "unprecedented surrender of America's sovereignty."

In Texas, Wisconsin and elsewhere, Americans know that isn't true. They know something needs to be done, they know the issue is complex and they know that politicians who talk instead of act are not doing the job they were elected to do.

The House immigration roadshow comes to New England next week, with a hearing scheduled in Concord, N.H. Another day, another state, and still nothing is done.
The House, pushed by Sensenbrenner, passed legislation that would increase border security but ignores other pressing immigration issues. What about the illegals already here? The House doesn't provide a solution.

The Senate legislation addresses border security as well as the illegals already here. Recent arrivals would be required to leave, new arrivals could apply for guest worker status. Illegals who have been here longer could try to qualify for a path toward citizenship if they pass a background check and learn English.

That's the more reasonable approach toward immigration reform -- the only workable approach.

House leaders should get off the road and back to work negotiating a compromise with the Senate that will secure the borders and address the problem of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants who are already in the United States.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Naive, disingenuous, hypocritical and more ...

Naive. Disingenuous. Hypocritical. Evasive. Thin-skinned.

All of those words are used to describe Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner in the course of a single column in the San Diego Union-Tribune.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Immigration hearings target key districts

There will be a hearing on immigration in Dubuque, Iowa soon, presumably because a lot of people in Dubuque are worried about illegal immigrants crossing the Mississippi from Wisconsin.

Or could it be because there is a hotly-contested House race there?

Critics are suggesting that Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner's committee has scheduled hearings across the country to give some embattled Repubs a lift in the fall elections, the NY Times reports. Many of the hearings are being held in districts where there are close races.
Several immigration hearings are being held far from the border with Mexico, in districts where Republican lawmakers are engaged in competitive races for the House, including Evansville, Ind.; Concord, N.H.; and Glens Falls, N.Y. Hearings are also being held in Dubuque, Iowa, where Republicans are fighting to hold on to the seat being vacated by Representative Jim Nussle, and in Hamilton, Mont., where Senator Conrad Burns faces a tough challenge.
Politically motivated? Au contraire, says Sensenbrenner's spokesman, Jeff Lungren:
Mr. Lungren said many of the hearings were being held in border states where border security and illegal immigration from Mexico were critical concerns among voters. But he did not rule out the possibility that politics had played a role in the scheduling of the hearings.

“Policy is the substance of an issue,” said Mr. Lungren, the spokesman for Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “Politics is helping to explain the substance of it. The two go hand in hand.”

Friday, August 04, 2006

Sensenbrenner's heavy hand in Assembly race

This from a Waukesha County Republican observer, about the Republican primary for the State Assembly seat formerly held by Scott Jensen, who resigned after being convicted of three felonies for misusing his office and abusing the public trust. In the interest of stirring the GOP primary pot, here you go:

Q: How has Rich Zipperer, an individual with virtually zero ties to either Waukesha County or Wisconsin Republican politics, been able to nab so many choice endorsements, including Wisconsin Right to Life, Brookfield Mayor Jeff Speaker, Lt. Gov. Farrow, and Rep. Vukmir?

A: F. James Sensenbrenner has let it be known that electing Mr. Zipperer is his newest “project”, and anyone who gets in his way will be “off the Christmas card list. (his words)”

The fear of Sensenbrenner has caused usually courageous Republican politicians to toe the line. Local attorney Mike Maxwell was counting on endorsements and support from State Sen. Ted Kanavas, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, and Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas. Kanavas is the godfather to Maxwell’s son. Maxwell’s wife worked on Vrakas’ county executive campaign. Maxwell hosted a fundraiser (the “pheasant hunt” that took place soon after the Cheney shooting) for Walker that raised a reported $10,000. All three have declined to help Maxwell.

Politics is all about who you know, so I do not slight Mr. Zipperer for having Congressman Sensenbrenner as his guardian angel. However, as the frontrunner, Mr. Zipperer should expect additional scrutiny, for example:

1. When exactly did Mr. Zipperer move into the Assembly district, and did he do so with the intention of running because he thought Scott Jensen was going to be convicted?

2. Mr. Zipperer hit the ground running immediately after Jensen announced his resignation. Did Mr. Zipperer use government resources in the Sensenbrenner office (email, fax, computers, copier, etc.) to run for Assembly?

3. Mr. Zipperer has stated that he has taken a leave of absence to run for office. Is he 100% off payroll, or using comp or vacation? More importantly, are he and his family still covered by the Sensenbrenner office health insurance like Kathy Falk’s staffer was before stopping due to scrutiny?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Still number one

It really isn't news any more, since F. Jim Sensenbrenner regularly comes out on top of the list of Congress members who travel for free.

But here's the latest report:
Sensenbrenner tops list of privately funded travel

WASHINGTON - Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner has taken around $200,000 worth of privately funded travel over the past 6 1/2 years, more than any other lawmaker, according to a new report.

Political Money Line, which tracks money in politics, released the report, which covers the period from 2000 through June 30 of this year.

Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., topped the list last year as well.

F. Jim to constituent: Bother someone else, not me

"Don't bother me -- go bother your state legislator with these problems."
That's the response Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner gave to a leader of a citizens group at a Sensenbrenner town hall meeting -- an answer those activists aren't likely to forget.

Jeff Gonyo of Highway J Citizens Group reports in an email, from which this is excerpted:
During the Town Hall Meeting, I asked Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner why he has not stepped in to stop wasteful, federally-funded road and bridge projects in his 5th Congressional District (like the Highway 164 four-lane expansion project in Waukesha and Washington Counties) and why he has not helped the residents of Ackerville obtain a complete clean-up of the groundwater contamination problems in this area (which have greatly worsened since a federally-funded bridge project was built there three years ago).

Just like he has done so many times these past seven years, Congressman Sensenbrenner again "passed the buck" and refused to get involved in what he viewed as "state and local issues." His exact response was: "Don't bother me -- go bother your state legislator with these problems."

Congressman Sensenbrenner gave this response even though I had pointed out to him that the Highway 164 four-lane expansion project is a federally-funded and federally-designed project that is now the subject of "a federal lawsuit filed in federal court against four defendants (three of which are federal agencies -- the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) now being heard by federal judges citing the violation of numerous federal laws (including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Federal Aid to Highways Act, the Clean Water Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, the Endangered Species Act and others).

Furthermore, the Ackerville groundwater contamination problems are under the jurisdiction of at least two federal agencies -- the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). With these very strong federal connections in our case, I am absolutely shocked that a federal legislator like Congressman Sensenbrenner would continue to tell his constituents that "these are state and local issues."
Want to know more? Contact Jeff Gonyo, Highway J Citizens Group, P.O. Box 152, Hubertus, WI 53033. Phone: (262)-644-8334. E-Mail:


Monday, July 31, 2006

Sensenbrenner disses citizens group

An attempt by a 5th Congressional District citizens group to enlist their Congressman against a project in his district fell on deaf ears. You can guess who the Congressman was. From the Daily Reporter:

On Sunday night, the [Highway J Citizens Group] unsuccessfully tried to convince U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner to back its cause at the congressman’s Richfield Town Hall meeting.

“I have approached Congressman Sensenbrenner many times over the last seven years in regards to these problems, and all he ever says is that it’s not a federal issue and I should bug my state legislators,” said Gonyo. “He wants to pass the buck.”

Gonyo said 80 percent of the funds used for both the highway expansion and bridge project are federal and that the Federal Highway Administration signed off on them.

“We are suing in federal court over federal laws to stop a federal project, and yet (Sensenbrenner) is saying it’s a state and local issue,” Gonyo said.

Sensenbrenner could not be reached for comment.

The group has several local politicians in its corner, including Sensenbrenner’s opponent in this year’s election, Bryan Kennedy. State Rep. Don Pridemore, R-Hartford, Washington County Supervisor David Radermacher and state Assembly candidate Bob Collison were all present at a rally held prior to the town hall meeting. Citizens for Responsible Government is also supporting the group’s efforts.

In January, Pridemore and state Sen. Ted Kanavas, R-Brookfield, asked WisDOT not to enter any further contracts on the project until the lawsuit was settled.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Citizens group to confront F Jim on Sunday

Looks like Congressman Sensenbrenner might have a hot time at the old town meeting on Sunday night.

A citizens group fighting expansion of Highway 164 in Waukesha and Washington Counties plans to take its case to Sensenbrenner.

From the Highway J Citizens Group e-mail:

WE NOW HAVE ANOTHER GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO "MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD" ON THESE IMPORTANT COMMUNITY ISSUES! On Sunday, July 30, 2006, we are strongly encouraging everyone to attend and participate at a citizens rally and town hall meeting in the Town of Richfield (Washington County). Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner is holding this town hall meeting to solicit citizen comments on a wide variety of issues that are affecting residents in the 5th Congressional District (which includes Waukesha and Washington Counties). This event will be held at the Richfield Town Hall (4128 Hubertus Road -- about one mile east of the Highway 164/Hubertus Road intersection) with the citizens rally starting at 6:00 PM followed by the town hall meeting at 7:00 PM.

For the past seven years, the HJCG has repeatedly asked Congressman Sensenbrenner to work together with area residents and local, county and state elected officials to both help us stop the WisDOT's Highway 164 four-lane expansion project and obtain a complete clean-up of the serious groundwater contamination problems in the Ackerville area (which now have been made worse by the WisDOT's recent construction of a bridge project in that location along Highway 164).

As of this date, Congressman Sensenbrenner has refused to assist the people on these important community issues. With the 6:00 PM citizens rally (which will be covered by the television and newspaper media), we intend to put strong political pressure on Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner to stop ignoring his constituents' many long-standing concerns and start taking these issues seriously which are negatively impacting the people he is suppose to be representing here in the 5th Congressional District. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO GET THE JOB DONE!

At the 6:00 PM citizens rally, we will have an impressive list of guest speakers who are supporting us on these key issues. Most notably, Bryan Kennedy (Congressman Sensenbrenner's opponent in this year's election) will be joining us to speak out both in favor of an immediate clean-up of the Ackerville area groundwater contamination problems and calling on the WisDOT to stop the Highway 164 four-lane expansion.

Second, 98th State Assembly Candidate Bob Collison will be speaking at the citizens rally on these issues. We also are inviting 99th State Assembly Representative Don Pridemore and Washington County Supervisor David Radermacher to participate in this citizens rally. Finally, we expect the leaders and members of several environmental, conservation and taxpayer watchdog groups to be at the rally to lend their support for our grassroots efforts. PLEASE JOIN US FOR THIS BIG EVENT!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sensenbrenner goes to the dogs

The Journal Sentinel gives him the benefit of the doubt, and makes it sound like F. Jim is just having fun. But it sounds like there's an edge to his humor, and that he may not have found it all that amusing to be described as a pit bill or to have a Judiciary Committee member say he treated members like dogs.

In any event, here's the story:

Sensenbrenner lets the dogs out
House Judiciary 'pit bull' responds to article with stunt


Washington - In the House Judiciary Committee, there can be only one top dog.

And the man with the gavel, Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, clearly is it.

However, the Menomonee Falls Republican was a bit taken aback recently when some members of his committee made references to man's best friend while describing him in a profile in The New York Times.

When describing Sensenbrenner's leadership style, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) used a famous quote from former Green Bay Packer player Jerry Kramer about coach Vince Lombardi. "He treats us all equally," Lungren said. "He treats us all like dogs."

In the same article, Rep. Rick Keller (R-Fla.) called Sensenbrenner a "pit bull." Keller said "the Senate negotiators he's up against (on the issue of immigration) are wearing Milk-Bone underwear."

On July 12, the day after the story ran, Sensenbrenner responded in kind at a committee meeting, passing out copies of the Times story and replacing the usual doughnuts with a plate of Milk-Bone dog treats.

According to the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, Sensenbrenner was "clearly relishing the characterization, even wielding a dog bone instead of a gavel."

As lawmakers filed out of the meeting, Sensenbrenner had an aide blast the Baha Men's hit song "Who Let the Dogs Out" on the audio system. He presented Lungren with a collar and a leash.

But did Sensenbrenner go too far?

"The congressman didn't take offense; it was all in lighthearted fun," said an aide in Lungren's office. "His bark is worse than his bite," Lungren told Roll Call.

"Chairman Sensenbrenner deals with a lot of serious issues," said Jeff Lungren, spokesman for the Judiciary Committee and the California congressman's son. "Sometimes it's important to have a little fun."

Jeff Lungren said all of the committee members took the canine stunts in stride, adding that he saw one member of the committee actually eating his Milk-Bone.

Apparently, Sensenbrenner, a longtime dog owner, has taken to his new role. One Capitol Hill aide said he has heard the chairman barking up and down the halls of Congress to announce his presence.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Same old Sensenbrenner

still feeding at the public trough

Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner's penchant for free travel, paid for by the taxpayers opr special interests, has made news in the past year. Dave Zweifel, editor of the Capital Times, recalls covering Sensebrenner as a state legislator in the 1960s. Not much has changed, Zweifel says:

His reputation for freeloading at the public trough, a place he's been feeding at for nearly 40 years, began early on when Sensenbrenner, an heir to the Kimberly-Clark fortune, had his wife collect unemployment compensation after she was laid off by the state Republican Party when elections were over and her services were no longer needed.

I remember him waging a campaign to get the per diem payments made to legislators declared tax-exempt. They were $25 a day back then to cover room and board when legislators were in Madison and the IRS insisted on treating per diems as income.

Indeed, Sensenbrenner was one of the first of the Wisconsin legislators who started thinking of himself as full-time. There was a day, many will remember, when state legislators were regular Wisconsin folks who had actual full-time jobs along with the people they represented. They'd come to Madison for a few weeks, pass a budget and act on legislation that needed attention and then go home.

It was the Sensenbrenners of the world who started down the slippery slope that turned into the debacle we have today. He was one of the first to write letters on state stationery soliciting doctors and lawyers for contributions and blatantly tell them that Republicans would look favorably on their issues. That wound up as a major state ethics issue.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Here he comes again -- Brookfield on Sunday

In case you have missed previous opportunities to share your views with Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner, here's another: A town hall meeting.

Sunday, July 16, 7pm – Brookfield Safety Building, 2100 N. Calhoun Rd.

If I'm not there, start without me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Our guy F. Jim -- big-bellied curmudgeon

From a NY Times profile on Sensenbrenner:
... He is commonly described as “prickly,” “cantankerous” and “unpleasant.” And this is by his friends.

“I would describe Jim as — what’s a nice word — how about ‘idiosyncratic’?” says Representative Dan Lungren, a California Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Lungren equates Mr. Sensenbrenner’s leadership to something the Green Bay Packer guard Jerry Kramer said about his coach Vince Lombardi. “He treats us all equally,” Mr. Lungren says of Mr. Sensenbrenner. “He treats us all like dogs.”

Mr. Sensenbrenner, 63, can be neutrally described as a Washington piece of work — a big-bellied curmudgeon with a taste for old Caddies, pontoon boats and enormous cigars. He is equally at home discussing policy minutiae or the details of his Dalmatian’s recent intestinal problems. His honking voice and Upper Midwestern enunciations make him one of the most mimicked politicians on Capitol Hill. (“Noooo interviews in the hallway” is a familiar refrain as he blows past reporters.)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Prepare to be boarded, ye immigrant lovers!

Community columnist Dan Banda in the Journal Sentinel:

Ahoy, Capt. Sensenbrenner!

I was recently standing on the deck of my ship, the USS Liberty, on a beautiful summer day, when an unexpected cannon shot rang out and tore a large hole through my jib.

The unexpected assault came from the USS Victim, commanded by my own congressman, Jim Sensenbrenner, who rarely enters the waters of Shorewood. He had slipped past my defenses through my mailbox.

"Arrrrrrrr, you be sailin' in troubled waters Mr. Banda," my rep bellowed from his deck to mine. "Didn't you get the memo?"

The memo? I pondered and then recalled the June mass mailing he sent to every home in his 5th district. "You mean the mass mailing?"

"Aye, you read it. Then you know I be putting an end to illegal immigration, and you, sir, didn't send your support."

Capt. Sensenbrenner's crew began to chant, "Don't ya know the meaning of illegal?"

"Yes, I know the meaning of illegal," I said. "But I'm curious. You said there are many 'polarized viewpoints about immigration' and that we needed 'a more thoughtful and respectful' dialogue."

"Yes, thoughtful and respectful, and that's what I'm here to provide, after I set your ship on the right course and build me one those high-tech walls," Sensenbrenner added.

"But goods and services are virtually borderless today. Why is the labor treated differently? A man as well-traveled as you should know immigration is a global issue," I said.

"Do you know how expensive those illegals are to law-abiding folks? Allow me to refer to the memo," he replied. "Those illegals be causin' more expensive police protection with their street gangs, hurting our own children's education and causing our health care costs to skyrocket. It's so sad it makes me weep like a baby."

His crew nodded in sympathy. "Now ya knows where I stand," he said, pointing to the name etched on his ship, the USS Victim.

Back in school years ago, I acquired an article for class that said, "If the wetback could be eliminated, so could the entire U.S. welfare system."

I guess scapegoating hasn't changed much.

Sensenbrenner pulled out a lace hankie and wiped his eyes. "So ya see, Mr. Banda, if you looks at the facts, my Immigration Control Act is really just trying to help you." I countered: "You don't say where your data comes from. Maybe if . . ."

Before I could finish, another cannon shot whistled overhead. "Now ya be askin' too many questions, Mr. Banda. Join us, or prepare to be boarded so we may check your legal papers."

Legal papers? "What happened to all men are created equal?"

"My ancestors came here legally," the first mate said from the poop deck. "These illegals can wait in line like everyone else."

"Times have changed," I said, "these undocumented workers were invited."

"Not by me," Sensenbrenner scorned. "It's them there employers." (That got a big ARRRGGGHHHH from the crew.)

"But we consumers seek out undocumented labor in our quest to consume more-for-less," I said, thinking when my ancestors arrived, most household goods were made in the United States.

"You're not enjoying your freedom, Mr. Banda," Sensenbrenner said. Pointing to the cannon, he ordered, "Ready, aim . . ."

"A duel," I screamed. "Let's have a duel to decide which ship is more American by seeing which is more American-made."

"Aye, American labels it is!" the crew cheered, before searching their ship appliances, electronics, furniture and, finally, their clothing for U.S. labels.

While my own ship disappointedly showed no evidence of any American-made products on board, my wardrobe included only one item made in the USA, a 26-year-old pair of gray slacks. (I hate to throw anything away.) On the other ship, panic ensued . . . nothing but the cannon was American made. It was a tie.

The crew of the USS Victim cried foul, saying American labor laws were merely guidelines, while others thought they should get an extra point for only speaking English on their ship.

I took the opportunity to slip quietly away, hoping my congressman would someday find his respectful dialogue and see the broken immigration system as a global issue, and not as a wetback or illegal alien vs. American victim issue.

Thus, I survived another chapter in the war of the Spanish Armada, the 420-year-old battle to achieve the most legal rights on the high seas, and most recently, turn the United States into the finest gated community on the planet.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Outside agitators grill Sensenbrenner

Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner was grilled on Iraq, his ownership of Halliburton stock, and immigration at a town hall meeting this week, the West Bend Daily News reports. The paper says half of the 30 or so attendees appeared to be from outside Sensenbrenner's suburban district.

He'll be at the West Bend City Hall at 7 p.m. on Sunday, July 9. Bring the family.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Sensenbrenner in West Bend July 9

Anything you'd like to tell Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner? Anything you can say in public?

Here's your chance. A town hall meeting:

Sunday, July 9th, 7pm – West Bend City Hall

Owen Robinson of Boots and Sabers will probably live blog it, whatever that is.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

'I wish he would become Mexican for a day'

This from a San Francisco Chronicle profile on Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner and his role in the debate over immigration:

Dionisia Olmos, 33, owner of a mortgage company, has joined the Waukesha County GOP. Her father immigrated illegally to Chicago where he worked at a golf course, taking his 12 children with him. Unable to support his family, he sent the younger ones, including Olmos, back to Mexico with their mother, where they lived without running water or electricity.

In 1986, her father gained amnesty under the law that Sensenbrenner vows never to repeat. Olmos was in Mexico and did not qualify. But at age 15 she married a man in the United States and decided to return.

"Mexico is a wonderful country," she said, "but you can't survive on what they pay you. I had a lot of things I needed to do. I'm a very hardworking lady, and I really needed to do my dream."

She said she crossed the border in 1988 at least five times, and was turned back each time by the same Border Patrol officer on horseback. She wore a Chicago Cubs jacket, and the guide told her to close her eyes so the flashlights wouldn't pick them up. She would open them each time to see the officer sitting on his horse looking at her. He kept telling her she would never get to Chicago and to give up.

After the fifth time, it became a joke, and he gave her his card. She told him she would call him from Chicago. She finally succeeded. "It was really, really hard," she remembered, crossing the Rio Grande in a raft at night.

Her brother discovered Waukesha in the Army. She joined him and worked in a factory. Eventually she wound up as a bank teller. She met [Don] Taylor, the county GOP chairman, and his son at their bank, and later they recruited her for the party, convincing her that her values matched those of Republicans. The younger Taylor gave her the bank loan to start her business, which now has four branches and 22 loan officers.

Olmos wanted to work inside the party to change the minds of Republicans who oppose immigrants like her who came illegally. But now she expresses doubts.

She feels intimidated at meetings, especially when talk began about a mailing for Sensenbrenner.

"I thought, 'what am I doing here?' " Olmos said. "They're supporting this law, they're supporting Sensenbrenner. They think people should come here legally. But I ask them, how can they come here legally? Tell me."

Olmos, the mother of three teenagers, finally got her green card in 2001 through her brother. She soon will be eligible for citizenship and wants to vote.

She said she wishes Sensenbrenner "would become Mexican for a day. I wish he would exchange nationalities with me. I challenge him to do that, and I'll take him back to Mexico and have him cross the border with me, and see if he can do it."

It was suggested that the chairman of the Judiciary Committee would not want to break the law.

Olmos replied, "He would do it if he's poor. If he sees his family doesn't even have a glass of clean water. He would do it if he knows that his family goes to bed hungry and has nothing else to eat. If he had nothing in his pocket, I think he would do it. He would break the law."

Friday, June 30, 2006

See Sensenbrenner in the flesh July 6

Come and have your own questions ignored or sidestepped by Congressman Sensenbrenner at his town hall meeting:

Thursday, July 6th, 7pm – Hartford City Hall

Sensenbrenner ducks Latino event

Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner has found some convenient scheduling conflicts that keep him from telling a national Latino group, meeting in his backyard, about his get-tough immigration plans. AP reports:
MILWAUKEE - The nation's oldest Hispanic rights group scheduled numerous speakers - both Democrats and Republicans - for its annual convention, but one sought-after name is missing from the agenda.

The League of United Latin American Citizens says it wants to hear from U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner on why he proposed a bill that would make it a felony to be in the U.S. illegally and, among other things, build a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has not accepted any of its invitations, says the group, which this week is holding its annual convention in Milwaukee, the Republican's backyard.

More than 10,000 people are expected at the convention, which began Monday and wraps up Saturday. The week's programs include sessions on immigration, Hispanics and business, and health care.

Speakers include House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee and Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Sensenbrenner told representatives of the group that he has votes scheduled in Washington through Friday and constituent business on Saturday, said Jeff Lungren, a spokesman for Sensenbrenner and the House Judiciary Committee.

"Therefore, when deciding between serving the constituents that elected him or giving a speech to a special interest group, Congressman Sensenbrenner will choose his constituents every time," Lungren said.

LULAC has been using the proximity of its convention to the home district of Sensenbrenner, nearby Menomonee Falls, to call attention to his proposals. On Sunday night, about five members of the group, including the executive director, attended a town hall meeting held by Sensenbrenner in the Milwaukee suburb of Thiensville, said Gabriela Lemus, director of policy and legislation for LULAC.

She said Sensenbrenner, like several other lawmakers associated with the measure, changed topics when asked by LULAC members about his immigration proposals.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

F. Jim loses key vote, goes off -- again

[Update by Jay]: Crooks and Liars has the video.

Judiciary Chair F. Jim Sensenbrenner lost a big vote in his committee Wednesday, and one report says he reacted with his typical temper tantrum and disregard for the rules. This from AP:

'Under God' pledge protection measure fails
GOP members fail to show for vote

WASHINGTON - House Republicans failed Wednesday to advance a bill protecting the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Only a day earlier, the GOP had placed the measure on its "American Values Agenda" in hopes of bolstering the party's prospects in the fall election.

But Republicans could not muster a simple majority on the issue in a committee where they outnumber Democrats by six.

The legislation tries to strip federal courts of jurisdiction over cases challenging the pledge. It responds to a federal appeals court ruling in 2002 that the pledge is unconstitutional because it contains the words "under God." A district court judge made a similar ruling last fall, citing the appeals court precedent.

Another shot possible
A simple majority is required to report a bill to the House floor with a favorable committee recommendation. The House Judiciary Committee split 15-15 on the pledge bill Wednesday; Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C., joined 14 Democrats to oppose it.

Inglis said he is concerned that if the Republican-dominated Congress passes "court-stripping" legislation, a future Democrat-dominated Congress might pass its own bill denying courts jurisdiction of more issues. In addition, he said, the legislation would allow state courts to rule on issues related to the Pledge of Allegiance while denying litigants the ability to appeal to a federal court.

Ten of the committee's 23 Republicans did not show up for the vote. The chairman, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said he would try again for a majority on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Senate Republican leaders failed by a single vote to pass a constitutional amendment to ban the burning of the American flag.

The GOP's "American Values Agenda" also includes a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, which died in the Senate before it even reached a vote; a prohibition on human cloning; and possibly votes on several popular tax cuts.

And this from Raw Story:
Dems say Judiciary Chair breaks rules, closes meeting after losing vote

Chairman of the House JudiciaryCommitteee F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has broken House rules to adjourn a meeting after losing a vote to Democrats, Democratic sources tell RAW STORY.

The vote was on an item from the Republican's "American Values Agenda," which the party says will codify "the American character." Specifically, it aims to bar any court--including the United States Supreme Court--from hearing any legal challenge to the pledge of allegiance.

Sensenbrenner, according to sources, hoped to reverse the vote when the committee reconvened later in the afternoon.

Democrats on the committee, save ranking member John Conyers (D-MI) refused to attend. With many Republicans also absent, there was no quorum present to hold a vote.

Conyers attended, according to sources, only for the sake of raising a point of order, indicating that the previous adjournment had violated rules. Sensenbrenner responded by indicating that he had not heard the objection earlier. However, sources tell RAW STORY that Sensenbrenner actually responded to the earlier statement at the time.

RAW STORY hopes to make a transcript available shortly.

The committee was again adjourned, and is likely to reconvene Thursday. Whether or not they hold another vote remains to be seen, however sources tell RAW STORY that it is likely to happen. Several Republicans on the committee did not cast a vote in the first round.

What makes this believable, of course, is that Sensenbrenner has done it before.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

No support for national ID card

Hard-line as he may be on immigration, Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner remains firmly opposed to any efforts to authorize a national ID card.

The idea is not dead, and some still believe it is needed, the Washington Post reports, but neither house included it in their immigration bills:
"There's just no support for it," said Jeff Lungren, spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), who sponsored the House immigration bill that sparked hundreds of protests this spring. Sensenbrenner wrote his disdain for the idea into his bill. Nothing in the legislation "shall be construed to authorize . . . the establishment of a national identification card," the bill says.

Sensenbrenner favors the expansion of a worker verification system that employers would check through the Internet. In its companion bill, the Senate opted for a similar tactic rather than a national ID system.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sensenbrenner: Darn that Senate, anyway!

If only there weren't a US Senate, life would be a lot better, Jim Sensenbrenner says. Those pesky checks and balances, and having two houses of Congress, make it so hard to get anything done.

When the Senate's not stopping Sensenbrenner's lock-em-up immigration laws, it's holding up action on property rights. Lack of Senate action puts every one of us at risk that the government is going to seize our homes and give them to Exxon or Halliburton, apparently.

You can almost hear the famous Sensenbrenner whine in this press release:

WASHINGTON, June 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- On the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's terrible decision in Kelo v. New London, House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) today praised President George W. Bush for signing an Executive Order reiterating support for private property rights and opposition to the government's using eminent domain for the economic benefit of private parties. ..

Chairman Sensenbrenner stated, "President Bush should be praised for doing what he can to ensure private property rights are protected by signing this Executive Order. The House of Representatives has acted by overwhelmingly passing by a 376-to- 38 margin the bipartisan 'Private Property Rights Protection Act.' Unfortunately, in the year since the horrendous Kelo decision, the U.S. Senate has not acted."

"The Senate's failure to act leaves every homeowner vulnerable to having the government seize their property and give it to a large corporation for a private business use. It has been 232 days since the House passed this legislation that is vital to protecting the rights of every property owner in America, yet this bill is stuck in the U.S. Senate. That needs to end," added Chairman Sensenbrenner.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sensenbrenner a Spanish curse word?

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has become a Spanish curse word for his vicious anti-immigrant legislation, which could imprison nearly 12 million immigrants and anyone else kind enough to serve them food at a soup kitchen.
-- Joel McNally, in a Capital Times column about Wisconsin politicians cashing in on anti-immigrant sentiment.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Town hall meeting: Speak truth to power

Your chance to tell F. Jim Sensenbrenner what you think about what he's doing to embarrass his constituents on immigration and other issues:

Town hall meeting

Sunday, June 25, at 7 p.m.
Thiensville Village Hall
250 Elm Street
Phone: 262/242-3720

Be there or be square.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Spending money to save money

F. Jim Sensenbrenner -- advertising how he saves taxpayer money -- in a taxpayer-paid mailing.

Watchdog Milwaukee has the story.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sensenbrenner: Lying with impunity

Xoff beat me to the punch on Sensenbrenner's continued abuse of taxpayer money through "junkets." (Aside: If F. Jim is so big on not wasting taxpayers' money for things like hurricane relief, why is he ok with traveling on our dime?) So I'll pick up on a tip from a reader instead.

I heven't spent a lot of time following F. Jim's press releases, but once you get into them, you can find them riddled with lies--lies no one in the Milwaukee-area press seems to be calling him on. For example, from May:
Over the past several months, organized anti-war protests have taken place around the country, including in Wisconsin, at the funerals of servicemen and women killed while fighting in the war against terrorism. These extremist demonstrators harass family members and friends with chants and signs that read, ‘Thank God for dead soldiers,’ ‘God hates you,’ and ‘Thank God for IEDs.’ This behavior is revolting and deeply disrespectful.

Whatever your political persuasion, or stance on the War on Terror, I think we all can agree that family members and friends should be protected during military funerals. [. . .] As a result, I, along with over 100 Republican and Democrat House Members, cosponsored HR 5037, the Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act. The bill would prohibit demonstrations on national cemetery grounds, unless specifically approved, and would silence all demonstrations one hour before and one hour following a military memorial service within a 500-foot radius.
Lies. Sensenbrenner clearly labels the protesters targeted here as "anti-war," and with his reference to "political persuasion," implies that said protesters are liberal. This is not true: The resolution came about as a direct result of protests at military funerals by Fred Phelps, an ultra-conservative who is not anti-war, but anti-gay, and feels that the US deserves to have its servicemembers die beczuse of our liberal policies regarding homsexuality in this country. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered Phelps when he brought his circus to Wisconsin, and if F. Jim had bothered to read the paper, he'd know that the protests are not anti-war or liberal in nature.

The New York Times ran an op-ed just this week (behind their stupid subscription wall) in which the writer claimed that liberal anti-war protesters were disrupting military funerals. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) investigated and found that, in fact, it was all Phelps's group, not liberals.

Google all you want; you will not find that liberals--or anyone anti-war--are protesting military funerals.

(Tip on that one from Green opponent to F. Jim, Bob Levis.)

One example ought to be enough, but there's more. This release, for example, lies about what's in the Senate immigration bill. My favorite is possibly this one, which may not be a lie, but is certainly dripping with irony:
The National Taxpayers Union (NTU), an independent tax watchdog group, has awarded Menomonee Falls Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner the ‘Taxpayers’ Friend Award’ for 2005 because of his voting record to reduce and control the tax burden on American taxpayers. Congressman Sensenbrenner, the only Member of the Wisconsin delegation to get an ‘A,’ received the ninth highest score in the House of Representatives. [. . .]

“Ultimately, this is the taxpayers’ money we’re talking about and we’re the ones entrusted to spend it responsibly,” Sensenbrenner concluded.
Who is it being irresponsible with taxpayers' money again?

Travelin' man just keeps on travelin'

-- Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Spivak and Bice:

Sensenbrenner still traveling on your dime

There he goes again.

Travelin' Jim Sensenbrenner has made it near the top of yet another congressional perk list.

And this time it's the taxpayers picking up the tab so the multimillionaire Republican can see the world

"It's a wonder he has the time to stay in Congress to vote," snapped Tony Raymond, co-founder of Political Money Line, a D.C. watchdog group.

Data compiled by the group shows that since 1994, Sensenbrenner has gone on junkets costing taxpayers $149,248, placing the Menomonee Falls congressman ninth among the 600-plus pols who have been in the House or Senate during that time.


Most recently, Sensenbrenner went on a weeklong trip costing just under $10,000 to visit Poland, Lithuania and Amsterdam in January.

Last year, he traveled to France for 10 days, a trip that again cost a little less than $10,000.

Over the years, he also has used tax dollars to see Vietnam, Russia, China and Istanbul, among other places.

No other member of the Wisconsin delegation comes close to matching Sensenbrenner for cavorting on the taxpayers' dime. U.S. Rep. Mark Green, the Republican candidate for governor, finished second in the delegation and 173rd overall for taking publicly funded trips worth $24,436, including two jaunts to Africa.

These fact-finding missions, of course, come on top of all of the worldwide excursions Sensenbrenner and his aides have gone on in recent years at the expense of lobbyists, corporations, non-profits and other private interests.

Another Political Money Line study found that since 2000, Sensenbrenner is No. 1 among all federal lawmakers in the total cost of the trips he has accepted from private sources. And earlier this month, yet another report said the combined value of the privately funded junketeering by the veteran Wisconsin congressman and his staff over the past five years placed his office 12th on Capitol Hill.

Overall, Sensenbrenner - often accompanied by his wife - has gone on 33 trips at a total cost to taxpayers and private groups of more than $266,000 since January 2000.

Not a bad perk for a guy who's an heir to the Kimberly-Clark fortune.

Asked specifically about his boss' taxpayer-funded globetrotting, Sensenbrenner chief of staff Thomas Schreibel responded with exasperation: "Here we go again."

Schreibel said Sensenbrenner had to travel more than others in the Wisconsin delegation because he has been the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee since 2000 and was the head of the House Science Committee before that.

"Travel is a part of the job," he said, "where members of Congress learn of problems that other countries are having and problems the United States is experiencing with other countries."

You do have to wonder why being Judiciary chair requires more travel than chairing any of the other many House committees. International Relations is one that comes to mind.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Right vote, wrong reason

Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner was one of 19 Republicans who voted "no" on an appropriations bill that poured another $66-billion into the bottomless pits of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sensenbrenner voted against the bill not because he has any problems with the blank check for war, but because it also included money for Hurricane Katrina aid. At least he is consistent in his cold-blooded heartlessness toward Katrina victims, which is well-documented.

Sensenbrenner thinks there's too much waste in New Orleans, but apparently that's not an issue in Iraq.

Capital Times editorial.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Working for Sensenbrenner not always cushy

Working for F. Jim Sensenbrenner isn't always cushy. Cory Liebmann of Eye on Wisconsin reports:

Apparently Sensenbrenner must draw a distinction between his office workers and those that do manual labor for companies in which he has vested interest.

Last month I posted a copy of Sensenbrenner’s disclosure statement, which showed that he owns $100,000 in Halliburton stock. At that time I also mentioned that with all of his tough talk on immigration, he never said anything when Halliburton was busted for using illegal immigrant workers. This happened during the cleanup from Hurricane Katrina. Just last week there was a report of how badly some of these kinds of illegal immigrants were treated.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Work for Sensenbrenner, see the world

It's not only Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner and his wife who travel the world for free, thanks the the generosity of public-spirited special interest groups who just want to make sure members of Congress and their staffs get all of the perks information they need, even if they have to fly to an exotic resort to get it.

Sensenbrenner's staff cashes in, too, with 94 trips worth $170,000 in the last five years. Spivak and Bice have details and the staff's attempt at defending the practice.

Friday, June 09, 2006

F. Jim breaks ranks on net neutralilty

Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner was one of only 11 Republicans to vote in favor an amendment to put net neutrality into federal law. CNET News reports:
The U.S. House of Representatives definitively rejected the concept of Net neutrality on Thursday, dealing a bitter blow to Internet companies like, eBay and Google that had engaged in a last-minute lobbying campaign to support it.

By a 269-152 vote that fell largely along party lines, the House Republican leadership mustered enough votes to reject a Democrat-backed amendment that would have enshrined stiff Net neutrality regulations into federal law and prevented broadband providers from treating some Internet sites differently from others.
The other Badger Republicans -- Mark Green, Paul Ryan and Tom Petri --all voted no, with all four state Dems -- Gwen Moore, Dave Obey, Tammy Baldwin, and Ron Kind -- in favor.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sensenbrenner hears only applause

Constituents of F. Jim Sensenbrenner who oppose his total hardheaded, hard line approach on immigration need to speak up a little more loudly. He clearly is not hearing you, as this exchange with US News and World Report illustrates:
What are you hearing in your district about immigration?

A: I'm getting very strong support in my district. There are some church groups that are opposed to what the House of Representatives has done. But over Memorial Day, I did four parades in four distinct parts of my district. I got cheered in all four parades. There were more people that came out in the middle of the street, saying: "I want to shake your hand because you're doing the right thing on immigration."
Read it here.

Avoiding illegals: How F. Jim does it

Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner mostly gets a pass in a Chicago Tribune profile, which buys his line that he's "a workhorse, not a show horse."

Some have compared him to just one portion of a horse.

Folks in Wisconsin, or those who have witnessed his temper tantrums in Congress, may be surprised to see him described as a "low-key lawmaker."

How does he know he doesn't aid illegal immigrants himself -- which if he had his way would result in criminal charges?
A careful man, Sensenbrenner says he tries to live what he preaches, even as it relates to immigration. Asked how he avoids doing business with possibly illegal immigrant workers when, say, he goes to get his car cleaned, he said he uses an automatic car wash.

He asks contractors he hires about their legal status and that of their workers. His housekeeper in Washington is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Nicaragua.
Do you think he asks to see the paperwork, or just asks if everybody's legal?

Flamingo Jones on F. Jim

Wisconsin Blogger Flamingo Jones, posting at The American Street, reminds us of an irony:
Gee…we’re not happy that the Justice Dept. and Executive branch are trampling over Constitutional rights, Jim? I wouldn’t have guessed that, based on your pissy attitude when Democrats tried to point out those exact dangers during the Patriot Act debate a year ago.
Maybe that's not irony. Maybe that's hypocrisy.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Or is the F. for Frequent Flyer?

Sensenbrenner in top 10 frequent flyers

A Medill News Service report:

WASHINGTON -- Outside groups representing interests as diverse as nuclear energy and telecommunications have paid nearly $50 million since 2000 to shuttle members of Congress and their staffs around the world, from Kazakhstan to Kansas City, Paris to Palm Springs.

In fact, staffers often outpace their bosses in the number and the costs of trips that they took to far-flung edges of the world.

Overall, members of Congress went on globe-trotting excursions costing $18.9 million. But private interests paid much more -- $30 million -- to finance the trips of congressional staff members, who often are instrumental in shaping policy.
Wisconsin's skinflint frequent flyer, F. Jim Sensenbrenner, who never travels on his own dime if he can avoid it, made the Top 10 list:
Rep. Gene Green of Texas and five other Democrats were in the top 10 traveler list among members of Congress as measured by overall cost. Green topped the list with about $175,000 worth of trips, but Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, chairman of the Judiciary Committee; Democrat Robert Wexler of Florida, and California Democrat George Miller were not far behind with about $170,000 each.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Flatigious Jim Sensenbrenner

Word for the day: Flatigious. Definition: Shameful, villainous.

The New American blog applies it to none other than F. Jim Sensenbrenner:
It is very rare when our “public servants” actually render a service to the public, and when this happens it is almost always unintentional.

Such is the case with the quite ironic service provided by Wisconsin Republican Representative James Sensenbrenner through his flatigious hypocrisy over civil liberties.
Is that what the F. stands for?

Is hearing a warning to protect GOP?

House Judiciary Chair F. Jim Sensenbrenner has been getting some praise, even from folks like the ACLU, for conducting hearings on the separation of powers in government, probing whether the Dept. of Justice had the authority to raid the offices of Rep. William Jefferson.

Now comes the suggestion that Sensenbrenner's motives may be less than pure, that the hearing is a warning shot to DOJ as it probes Congressional wrongdoing by Republicans.

E. J. Dionne Jr. of the Washington Post suggests Sensenbrenner is trying to send a message:
The hearing was dominated by talk of abuses of power by long-dead monarchs and the need of the people's representatives for untrammeled communication with their constituents.

But Rep. James Sensenbrenner's committee was really sending a message as the House confronts a far-reaching corruption investigation: Nice little Justice Department you have there, Mr. Attorney General. Too bad if anything were to happen to it. Stop messing with us before we mess with you.

How else to explain this from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.): "We have the power to impeach the attorney general. Now, I'm not sure that articles of impeachment are going to come out today. I think we're a couple shakes short of a quorum for that purpose. Although I suspect members would quickly be here if it was brought by the chair."

Why would House Republicans be so concerned with Jefferson, a Democrat from Louisiana who, according to prosecutors, kept $90,000 in cash in his freezer?

One answer is high principle. The more plausible answer is that Republicans are worried that the next shoes to drop in the congressional probes will belong to Republican members. Using a Democrat's case now to protect Republican members in the future is not so much clever as transparent.

If Wisconsin's Sensenbrenner and his fellow Republicans had shown an exquisite concern with civil liberties and accountability in the past, their challenge to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales might be seen as part of a consistent libertarian sensibility.
Read it all.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sensenbrenner: The head brick

Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner has been called a lot of things in the last year or so, several of them by me.

The New York Times, in a weekend editorial, had a new description for him: The head brick. Not to be confused with blockhead. Here's the context:
Americans should be proud of what the United States Senate did this week. It passed an ambitious bill that could lead to the most far-reaching overhaul of immigration laws in the nation's history. It did so after months of thoughtful debate and through a bipartisan compromise, a creature that many thought had vanished from Capitol Hill. The bill has many flaws, but its framework is realistic and humane. At various low points in the debate, this outcome could scarcely have been imagined, but the near-impossible happened on Thursday, by a vote of 62 to 36.

The Senate has given the cause of immigration reform a lot of momentum, which it will need since it is now heading for a brick wall: the House of Representatives.

The House Judiciary Committee chairman, James Sensenbrenner Jr., in the role of head brick, called the Senate bill "a nonstarter" the morning after it passed. Discussing the odds of reconciling the House and Senate legislation into one bill, Mr. Sensenbrenner struck a tone of deathly pessimism. The chambers had once been miles apart, but now they were "moons apart or oceans apart," he said, grasping for words to convey the vastness of his gloom, and the ferocity of his bargaining stance.
Read the rest.

More on old Brickhead: Cory Liebmann says Sensenbrenner has a real credibility problem when he talks tough about employers of illegals. And Joel McNally says F. Jim's crusade on immigration shows his true colors.

Jimmy gets his gavel

-- David Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. (Hat tip: Brewtown Politico.)

When you're the House Judiciary chairman, you have a lot on your plate. You can't take up every little issue that comes along. You have to keep your priorities straight and focus on the things that really matter -- like the ones that affect members of Congress.

Dana Milbank in the Washington Post:

When asked to hold hearings on the rendition and torture of terrorism suspects, House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) respectfully declined.

Invited repeatedly to probe the Bush administration's leaking of a CIA operative's identity, the chairman sent his regrets.

Urged to have hearings dedicated to the administration's warrantless eavesdropping, Sensenbrenner demurred once more.

But when FBI agents searched a congressional office 11 days ago, Sensenbrenner went up to the attic and found his gavel.

Yesterday, he held the first of at least four hearings into the raid -- the debut was dispassionately titled "Reckless Justice" -- and announced that he will haul the attorney general and FBI director before his committee. He also vowed that he will "promptly" write legislation to prevent a recurrence.

Read the rest.