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.”