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.