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.