Saturday, December 29, 2007

No more Tweedledee

The ridiculous two-headed race against Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner is over.

One of the two college professors running in tandem for the seat -- the Democrat, Jeff Walz -- has dropped out of the race, leaving Sensenbrenner with only a quixotic Republican primary challenger.

The idea of two friends, one Dem and one Repub, running jointly was good for some free publicity, but didn't accomplish much else.

Maybe, now, the Democrats will field a real challenger.

Greg Borowski of the Journal Sentinel has more.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Campaign lunacy gets green light from FEC

Professors Tweedledee and Tweedledum have gotten official sanction to raise money jointly in their campaign against Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, even though they are in opposing parties and supposedly running against each other as well as Big Jim.

The AP reports:

The Federal Election Commission has given the green light to an unusual joint fundraising plan by two candidates from different parties who hope to knock off Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.

On Thursday, the FEC approved an advisory opinion that lets Democrat Jeff Walz and Republican James Burkee raise money together as part of their plan to campaign with each other and combine promotional efforts.

The two Concordia University professors told the FEC they wanted to form a joint fundraising committee, which would serve as a "clearinghouse" for contributions. Those contributions would be equally divided between the two candidates' campaigns, although donors could contribute to only one candidate if they choose.

The candidates also said they want to split the cost of joint campaign and fundraising activities equally, including personnel expenses. Solo campaigning by one of the candidates, however, would be funded solely by that candidate's campaign.

"The commission concludes that the Burkee Committee and the Walz Committee may engage in joint campaign and fundraising activities as proposed," said the advisory opinion, which was unanimously approved by the FEC.

Messages left with the campaign office of the two candidates were not immediately returned Thursday. Sensenbrenner's office declined to comment.

Walz, a political scientist, and Burkee, a historian, have worked together in recent years as speakers and commentators. Their goal, they have said, is to show what elections should look like, with an emphasis on decency, cooperation and collaboration. They say they will avoid personal attacks and refuse special interest group money.
So this is how they think campaigns should work.

The trouble is, as I've said here before, is that campaigns are supposed to be about drawing distinctions between the candidates, not blurring their differences.

If it doesn't matter who wins, why would anyone give either of them any money, let alone both?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

We didn't say it

Sensenbrenner "is your basic Fat Evil Prick. . . . He has the requisite moist-with-sweat pink neck, the dour expression, the penchant for pointless bile and vengefulness."
Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone did in his new book, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches From a Rotting Empire.

Baltimore City Paper has more.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Chilly reception at hearing on warming

From Gristmills, a self-described "blogful of leafy green commentary," an offshoot of Grist, the online environmental magazine:
So, the field hearing of the House global warming committee is just getting underway. I was chatting with Rep. Jay Inslee a few minutes ago, when a burly, ruddy-faced man tried to get past us. Inslee said, "Jim, this is David Roberts, he runs a blog with lots of environmental stuff of interest, you might want to check it out." The man scowled, grunted, and kept going.

I was puzzled, until I saw him sit down behind a nameplate: "U.S. Representative Sensenbrenner."


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

'Could I see your papers, Mr. Sensenbrenner?'

50-minute trip for immigration know-it-alls
Staten Island ferry enlightens

By Thomas V. DiBacco

NEW YORK - This month marks the anniversary of the Statue of Liberty in New York's Harbor, an event that will go unheralded in large part because the monument is taken for granted today. But it wasn't always that way. When the statue, officially called Liberty Enlightening the World, was dedicated on a raw, rainy late October day in 1886, it brought to New York the president of the United States, Grover Cleveland, who formally accepted the belated Bicentennial gift from France, the nation's closest ally during the American Revolution.

"We will not forget," he said, "that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected."

Ironically, none of the speeches on that historic day interpreted the gift in reference to immigration, but because of its proximity to Ellis Island, where some 12 million arriving immigrants were processed from 1892 to 1954, the monument became the gold standard for open-door policies.

The statue is still relevant because of the current debate over immigration policy -- at least that's the thought I had as my wife and I took our first trip last week on the Staten Island ferry for a close-up look at her Lady and nearby Ellis Island. That ferry ride should be required of all the presidential candidates, as well as members of Congress, and know-it-all news pundits like Fox TV's Bill O'Reilly and CNN's Lou Dobbs, crusaders against life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for illegal immigrants. It's only a 50-minute round trip, with 104 boat trips daily, and unlike so many other things in this world, it's absolutely free of charge.

The most impressive aspect of the water journey is how blessedly quiet it is, save for the sound of the ferry's motors. To be sure, on every trip hundreds of people board the ferry (an average of 625), including a good number of commuters who live on Staten Island. Tourists from numerous countries take silent, digital pictures, as do American visitors. But it's the gaze of everyone on the skyline that speaks, reflecting the mind's difficult downloading of the overwhelming majesty of the site and perhaps the harboring of thoughts about what earlier huddled masses underwent to get to this country.

For me, the journey rekindled the stories from my grandfather and father, both immigrants from Italy, about their struggle and survival in a nation so foreign to their native villages.

Even without knowing much about the history of immigration to the United States, looking at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island has a way of lowering the emotional barometer about policy today. For both monuments attest to the hard fact that immigrants came, were processed and, for the most part, became Americans in the best sense of that term.

In all candor and as a professor of American history, I don't have an easy answer to dealing with illegal immigration today from south of our borders. But what immigration history has taught me is that extreme penalties and restrictions don't work.

For most of American history, there were no federal rules, and immigrants flowed easily into the various states. When the federal government did intervene, after the Supreme Court in 1875 opined that regulation was a federal responsibility, national laws reflected prevailing public prejudices: first, restrictions against the Chinese and Japanese, then against southern and eastern Europeans. At the height of anti-immigration restriction laws in the 1920s, the supreme irony is that the pecking order of acceptability was in stark contrast to today's: Then, Latin Americans were warmly accepted, even encouraged.

But what is clear is that it's virtually impossible for anyone today to verify that their first ancestors to America carrying their surname were legal immigrants. States accepting immigrants kept some records but not systematically. Ellis Island authorities, which rejected only 2 percent of arrivals (on health grounds or the view they might become public charges), lost records in fires. So the whole notion that the immigration process in the old days resulted in a proper entry may well be nothing more than legal fiction for many immigrants. As for the federal laws, they were often conflicting and confusing: Restrictions based upon race, place of birth, sex and residence were officially eliminated in 1968, but the long-standing, sort-of affirmative-action policy of encouraging Canadians and Latin Americans was set aside in 1976.

Non-extreme ways to deal with illegal immigration would accept the view that policy should not be retroactive -- that is, it should not penalize already settled, working immigrants. And the idea of a required national identity card for all Americans is a lot of hooey, wrought with bureaucratic ballooning and invasion of privacy. Nor should policy concentrate on building a border wall that defies economic common sense and smacks of a Berlin-wall era. And if states, such as New York, choose to permit illegal immigrants to apply for drivers licenses (under the reasonable assumption such individuals, like any other New Yorker, would be easier to track), that's really their business.

As for the extremists like Dobbs, O'Reilly and U.S. Rep. James F. Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, who see prison or deportation as a proper treatment for undocumented immigrants, I'd recommend more than a trip on the Staten Island ferry. I'd like to see their papers -- that is, proof positive that their ancestors entered the country legally.

Thomas V. DiBacco is a professor emeritus at American University in Washington, D.C. He wrote this commentary for the Orlando Sentinel.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Kyoto treaty 'a failure' and he seems glad

"A decade after Kyoto, it is clear to me that the [Kyoto] treaty produced far too few results; it is a failure." -- Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner.
Do you think it might have produced more results if the US had participated?

Sensenbrenner, of course, has a long, bad record on global warming. He calls himself a veteran of the climate wars, but it's hard to tell on which side.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Big Bad Jim is Sweet Jimmy now;

Vocal on Katrina, mum on Pentagon

"I care that the taxpayers' money is being spent in a prudent manner."
That was Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner defending himself against charges that he was heartless or uncaring, after he voted against any federal assistance for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Spending $51.8-billion was
"throwing money at the problem," he said, and a lot will be wasted, pointing to reports of previous mismanagement of money in New Orleans. He talked about "people with sticky fingers siphoning it off."
Sensenbrenner complained that there were not enough controls or oversight in place. He didn't offer any amendments or suggestions about how to make sure the money was spent appropriately. He simply voted against giving any aid to the victims, becoming one of only 11 people in the entire Congress to take that hard-hearted stand.

So Fighting Jim came to mind, naturally, when the New York Times reported:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 — Military officials said Thursday that contracts worth $6 billion to provide essential supplies to American troops in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan — including food, water and shelter — were under review by criminal investigators, double the amount the Pentagon had previously disclosed.

In addition, $88 billion in contracts and programs, including those for body armor for American soldiers and matériel for Iraqi and Afghan security forces, are being audited for financial irregularities, the officials said.

Taken together, the figures, provided by the Pentagon in a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, represent the fullest public accounting of the magnitude of a widening government investigation into bid-rigging, bribery and kickbacks by members of the military and civilians linked to the Pentagon’s purchasing system.
Given his stand on Katrina relief, you'd think Sensenbrenner would be all over this one, wouldn't you? It's like money being spent on our military is being funneled through the Dept. of Waste, Fraud and Abuse.

Sensenbrenner suggested, after Katrina, that Louisiana politicians had a history of corruption and siphoning off money.

Unlike the Pentagon, of course, which has spilled more money than most other federal agencies and programs have ever seen.

According to one Pentagon official, what's happening in Iraq is just what Sensenbrenner feared would happen on the Gulf Coast:
“In a combat environment, we didn’t have the checks and balances we should have in place,” said Shay D. Assad, director of defense procurement and acquisition policy. “So people who don’t have ethics and integrity are going to be able to get away with things."
So far, Sensenbrenner's record seems just a trifle inconsistent.

He hasn't said a single word about the Pentagon contracts that are under audit and investigation.

He has, however, voted for every dollar the Bush administration has requested for Iraq. And he hasn't uttered a peep about waste, fraud, and mismanagement.

The National Priorities Project says Wisconsin taxpayers already have spent $7.3-billion on the Iraq war alone, with $1.2-billion coming from taxpayers in Sensenbrenner's district, the wealthiest in the state.

For that same $1.2-billion spent by Sensenbrenner's constituents on the Iraq war, 214,341 children could have been provided with health care for the length of the war, or 9,996 units of affordable housing could have been built, the group says.

Heartless when it comes to helping people in need, Sensenbrenner is Daddy Warbucks, the last of the big spenders, when it comes to fighting Bush's senseless, endless war.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Change your name to Sensenbrenner?

A newspaper columnist in Cape May, on the Jersey shore, has a little fun:

My cousin Happy showed up today for the weekend. This is a really BIG weekend in the Wildwoods which is why Happy showed up today, to get a head start on the fun.

Happy isn’t my cousin’s real name. Neither is Sensenbrenner. He changed his last name to Sensenbrenner when he heard about the lucky Congressman who’s won the lottery three times. Happy guessed that it had to be the name...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer

Just in case you needed further proof that life isn't fair, there's this:
MILWAUKEE (AP) — U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, already a millionaire and heir to the Kimberly-Clark fortune, is on a lucky streak. The Republican hit it big in 1997 with a $250,000 jackpot in the District of Columbia lottery. Then, last spring, he won $1,000 prize in the Wisconsin lottery, and he won another $1,000 in that lottery last week.

"I got lucky," Sensenbrenner said.

Sensenbrenner, 64, was born into a family that helped build Kimberly-Clark Corp., maker of Kleenex tissue and Scott paper towels, and he recently reported a net worth of about $11.6 million. He said he spends about $10 a week on lottery tickets.

The latest winnings came in a Super 2nd Chance drawing, in which people who mail in at least $5 in losing tickets vie for 10 $1,000 prizes each week. Lottery officials put the odds of winning just one time at 1 in 5,000.
Sensenbrenner is a notorious tightwad who travels the globe with his wife while letting special interests pick up the tab.

But it is hard to imagine someone with his money spending his time mailing in his losing lottery tickets.

Maybe he has more time on his hands now that he's in the minority.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Holding the hard line on immigration

Let you think that Fat Jim has moved even slightly on his hard-line anti-immigrant stance, check the Oconomowoc Focus story this week about his talk to local Kiwanians. Some highlights:

"They (illegal immigrants) distort the economy, they take away jobs from the communities, and many times they are paid cash," he said, meaning that often they do not pay taxes for the society they live in...
... the Senate's version of the bill ... allows current illegal immigrants, who have lived in the U.S. for five years, to gain U.S. citizenship by paying fines and back taxes for only three of the previous five years.

Sensenbrenner said that is basically giving criminals amnesty.

"By giving illegal immigrants amnesty, not only do you get U.S. citizenship for breaking the law, but you get a lot of money taken away from others."

If U.S. citizens were to only pay limited back taxes, they would be considered lawbreakers and prosecuted, he said.

"Amnesty will never be accepted by the American public," he stated.
Meanwhile, Latino evangelicals are about to abandon the GOP over the issue, The Christian Post reports:

[Rev. Samuel] Rodriguez [president of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference]. and others like him, are now questioning whether they can label the GOP party as the “party of Jeff Sessions, Tom Tancredo and James Sensenbrenner” who were strong opponents of the immigration bill, or the party of George W. Bush and John McCain who are both strongly in favor of the bill.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sensenbrenner retirement rumored

Human Events, which named Sensenbrenner its "Man of the Year" for 2006, reports:
HASTERT, PRYCE, WHO’S NEXT? Republicans on Capitol Hill were wondering last week if a GOP retirement flood might be getting under way after former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R.-Ill.) and Representatives Deborah Pryce (R.-Ohio) and Chip Pickering (R.-Miss.) all announced they would not run for re-election next year. Pryce, as vice chairman of the GOP Conference, is the fourth-ranking House Republican. Coming days after seven-termer Ray LaHood (R.-Ill.) announced his exit from Congress, the latest exits have increased speculation that a large number of long-serving Republican House members will soon say they are calling it quits, fearing ’08 will be a bad year for the GOP. Among the most talked-of “no-go” prospects are veteran GOP Representatives Ralph Regula (Ohio), Elton Gallegly (Calif.), Jim Sensenbrenner (Wis.) and Bill Young (Fla.).
Hat tip: Dad29

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sensenbrenner cut Michael Vick a break

He never really explained what motivated him, but F. Jim Sensenbrenner single-handedly prevented passage of a tougher federal law against animal fighting -- a law which would have posed much harsher penalties for pro football star Michael Vick, among others.

The president of the US Humane Society explains in a Sheboygan Press column:

By Wayne Pacelle

While National Football League star Michael Vick's career and freedom are threatened by his alleged involvement in illegal dogfighting, he caught at least one major break in the process.

Little did he know, but Vick got a great assist — the equivalent of some tremendous pass protection on the field — from U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls.

Sensenbrenner has emerged in recent years as one of the leading opponents of animal welfare in Congress. Thanks to Sensenbrenner, the penalties in the federal law against animal fighting — the core federal law that prosecutors put to use in the indictment — were kept as misdemeanors during the period when the crimes Vick is charged with took place.

The idea of upgrading penalties to a felony for violations of the federal animal fighting law — which bans interstate or foreign commerce in fighting animals — had active support in Congress for the past six years. In fact, both the House and Senate passed felony penalties for violations of the animal fighting law in 2001 and 2002, but the provision was inexplicably stripped out of the Farm Bill at the insistence of Republican House negotiators in a conference committee.

While there were just a handful of opponents of the legislation in Congress, the most influential detractor was Sensenbrenner, who from 2001 to 2006 had been chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, which writes the penalties for most federal crimes.

For reasons he has never satisfactorily explained, Sensenbrenner put unusual amount of energy into thwarting the advance of stronger laws against dogfighting and cockfighting — a position at odds with his self-branding as a law-and-order, tough-on-crime lawmaker.

In the 109th Congress — spanning 2005 and 2006 — the Senate unanimously passed the felony legislation right out of the gate in April 2005.

The House bill, introduced by former Wisconsin Rep. Mark Green, also had a huge head of steam and was picking up scores of cosponsors. By the end of the Congress, the bill had a remarkable 324 cosponsors — more cosponsors than any other bill in Congress but one. It also had the backing of 400 local law enforcement agencies.

But the bill had to clear the Judiciary Committee, and Sensenbrenner insisted the whole matter was a state issue and no concern of the Congress. Sensenbrenner had almost no support on his committee for his position — especially after lawmakers heard testimony of the vast network of dogfighting and cockfighting operations selling and moving animals in interstate and foreign commerce, its connection to other serious criminal activities, and the threat that cockfighting in particular posed to the poultry industry through the spread of avian influenza.

Dozens of Republican lawmakers appealed to Sensenbrenner to pass the legislation, but he wouldn't hear of it. In the end, he ran the clock out, and the law was not upgraded. If it had been, federal prosecutors could have brought far stronger charges, with more severe penalties, against Vick.

After the November 2006 elections, which ushered Democrats into power, Sensenbrenner lost his chairmanship. The new chairman, Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan, moved the legislation in rapid fashion.

The bill was introduced on the first day of the new Congress. It quickly amassed more than 300 cosponsors and passed the full House in March. Sensenbrenner had tried to kill the bill in committee, and then voted against it on the floor, with 36 other Republicans and two Democrats. But, now in the minority, he had lost his power. The Senate took up the House bill and passed it unanimously, less than a month later. President Bush signed it into law on May 3.

So while Michael Vick is in serious trouble, and his freedom and career are threatened, he just escaped being charged under the new federal law against animal fighting and its strengthened felony penalties. If Vick is convicted and a modest sentence is meted out, he can thank his lawyer first and James Sensenbrenner second.

About the author: Wayne Pacelle is president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. To learn more about the organization, visit the Web site:

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Loss of chairmanship means loss of $$$

He's not exactly hurting for dough -- although he's so tight he'd never use his own money to run for office -- but Jim Sensenbrenner's fund-raising has shown some slippage.

It seems that the special interests, who give through political action committees, aren't as interested in giving when you're the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee. When you're raising money, "chairman" has a nicer ring -- and much more ka-ching.

Sensenbrenner's PAC money is down 62% from the comparable period two years ago.

The Journal Sentinel's Dan Bice has the details.

We're told he's not even the ranking R. That’s Rep. Lamar Smith. Sensenbrenner’s only leadership post is as ranking member of the Global Warming Committee.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Spirit of Sensenbrenner lives on

in new Senate immigration bill

a “regressive, anti-due process, enforcement proposal that would criminalize 12 million hard-working men and women in one fell swoop.”
That's how the American Immigrant Lawyers Assn. characterizes a new endorcement-only immigration bill introduced in the US Senate.

It's described as very similar to a House-passed bill from last spring, which prompted huge demonstrations across the country. That bill, lest we forget, was known as the Sensenbrenner Bill, in "honor" of its chief sponsor.

Sensenbrenner at least has been consistently wrong. Most disappointing about the Senate bill is that three Repubs who previously supported a reasonable compromise bill -- including won't-be-president John McCain -- now are pandering to the right as sponsors of the new bill.

The Austin American-Statesman has more on its immigration blog.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Department of Non-Sequiturs

From Think Progress:
LaHood: 110th Congress has been successful.Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL), who has a reputation for sometimes “tell[ing] the truth, unvarnished,” offered his assessment of the new Congressional leadership:

They’ve had a pretty strong quarter… They can send their members home crowing about their accomplishments, and they’ve done it in a bipartisan way, which is exactly what they promised to do.

LaHood also announced he will not be seeking re-election.

That prompted this comment from a reader:
I love that ending. Try your own: Start with a name, then the thing you’d least expect to hear, and end it with “also announced he will not be seeking re-election.” For example -

“Sensenbrenner surprised the press Thursday by announcing he had fathered a child with a space alien he called ‘Gertrude69-Omega’, and also announced he will not be seeking re-election.”
How about: "Sensenbrenner said he would co-sponsor new Disabilities Act legislation with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and also announced he would not seek re-election."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sensenbrenner opposes contempt move

The Hill reports:
The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday along straight partisan lines to hold White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress, the first concrete step toward a constitutional showdown between the two branches of government.
Party line means F. Jim Sensenbrenner voted no, but he did offer an alternative that at least sounds reasonable on its face:

“I think the White House is going to win in court,” asserted Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), the former chairman of the panel. “If we do bring the case to court and lose, then that is going to be viewed as a blank check by the current president and the future presidents to snub the Congress” in its oversight responsibilities.”

Instead of moving forward with the contempt citation, Sensenbrenner suggested the committee direct the House general counsel to file a civil suit challenging the president’s claim of executive privilege in the D.C. District Court, a move he said he would support. Conyers said he would consider filing the suit in addition to moving forward with the contempt citation.
There is, of course, this sticky little problem that the LA Times notes. The Bush administration would have to agree to file the contempt case:
If the House approves the resolution, the charges against Miers and Bolten will be referred to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, although the outlook for a prosecution there is unclear. The administration has said the Justice Department would not pursue the contempt charges because it believes the law does not provide for such a prosecution when presidential aides assert executive privilege.
As my mother used to say, "There's always something to take the joy out of life."

Democrats need a serious

candidate, not a sideshow

(DISCLAIMER: I am a contributor, not the operator, of this blog, so these opinions are not necessarily those of the management.)

Yesterday, we noted that two professors, one Democrat and one Republican, say they are going to run a joint campaign for Jim Sensenbrenner's Congressional seat. We called the idea wacky.

Today, The NY Times takes note, treating it semi-seriously.

But lest there was any doubt this is a gimmick, which will be good for some media attention but have nothing to do with any serious chance of defeating Sensenbrenner, here's some of the Times story:

In a show of bipartisan comity rarely, if ever, seen before in congressional politics, Burkee and Walz will launch a joint campaign Web site at and produce joint advertising, bumper stickers and yard signs...

Although only one of them can be elected to Congress, Burkee and Walz discuss their joint campaign in terms of what would happen if “we” win. They said they would continue teaching at Concordia as they served the district’s constituents, bringing back the idea of citizen legislators instead of career politicians...

Seniors from Concordia University and the University of Wisconsin will staff the campaigns...

Gary C. Jacobson, a professor of political science at the University of California San Diego and an expert in congressional elections, said he is not aware of such an arrangement in any past congressional elections, and gave the candidates slim chances in the general election.

“It’s a gimmick that will get them some attention but ... I don’t see how they could possibly expect to win,” Jacobson said..
Then there's this:
The idea for the run came out of a series of lectures Burkee and Walz undertook during the 2004 presidential campaign. The two professors, supporting their respective parties’ presidential candidates (Bush for Burkee and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry for Walz), conducted a series of self-moderated debates around the district to help educate voters about major issues.

Ah, yes, who can forget those exciting Burkee-Walz debates of 2004? Does anyone have any recollection of that, except the two participants?

Their first "debate" of the Congressional campaign may interest the news media, but after that they'll have to set their hair on fire to get any coverage.

If no other Democrat enters the race, Walz will be the Dem nominee. Burkee is not going to beat Sensenbrenner in a GOP primary. Come general election time, without his "running mate," what is Walz's plan to beat Sensenbrenner one-on-one? Do joint yard signs with Big Jim? Run joint TV commercials? Don't think so.

Here's hoping, once again, that a serious Democratic candidate -- one who wants to run a real campaign and try to win, even in this heavily Republican district -- gets into the race.

The voters deserve better than a sideshow.

UPDATE: I added a little more explanation and commentary on Daily Kos post.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sensenbrenner gets bipartisan opposition

This seems more than a little wacky, with two professors seemingly wanting to test their academic theories about what kind of campaign voters want.

Be that as it may, two professors -- one Dem, one Repub -- have announced they will run in tandem for Sensenbrenner's Congressional seat next year.


That may well be enough to keep out any serious challenger.

Ken Mobile has more.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Jim Sensenbrenner, climate warrior

When it comes to global warming, Jim Sensenbrenner wants to have it every which way.

He calls himself "a veteran of the climate wars," but it's hard to tell just what it is he's fighting.

The Politco reports:
As the ranking member of the new Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Sensenbrenner, 64, finds himself in the curious position of leading his party on a committee he dismisses as nothing more than a publicity stunt. In fact, Sensenbrenner voted against the creation of the committee last March...

He acknowledges that Earth is getting warmer. He takes issue, however, with some Democrats, who he thinks are overstating the perils of an increasingly hot planet and unfairly blaming the phenomenon on human beings and the greenhouse gases they help produce.

"How much climate change is caused by human activity and how much is caused by the natural climatic cycle, I don't think there is a real consensus on," he said.
That means George Bush and some conservatives don't agree with the scientific community, which says it is quite clear that humans have a major share of the blame for global warming.

You won't be surprised to hear Sensenbrenner's an Al Gore-hater:
Sensenbrenner also seems to strongly dislike Gore, who he sees as creating unwarranted hysteria over the potential consequences of global warming. Gore's name came up repeatedly during an interview with The Politico, with Sensenbrenner insinuating that Gore had a large role in the hyperbole surrounding the debate.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Gentleman Jim drafting

new immigration bill

The biggest issue in Wales, Wisconsin is illegal immigration? Hard to believe, but that's what the Waukesha paper reports.

If that's not scary enough, consider this:
A federal immigration reform measure died in the U.S. Senate last week but Sensenbrenner said that isn’t the end the debate. He said he will soon introduce an immigration reform bill that will include discussion on illegal immigrants.

Sensenbrenner declined to offer specifics on the bill, noting he was still writing it.
Can't wait for those specifics. A longer, higher fence? Round 'em all up and deport 'em? Shoot illegals on sight? Or something tougher?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fishing takes patience

F. Jim Sensenbrenner on the House Judiciary Committee hearings:
"Now, let me say that this committee has spent $250,000 of the taxpayers' money basically investigating the replacement of U.S. attorneys whose terms had expired," he said. "...It seems to me that with this fishing expedition, there ain't no fish in the water. And we've spent an awful lot of time and an awful lot of money finding that out."
It's just that the committee hasn't hooked one yet. Some of them seem to have faulty memories.

That "terms had expired" reference is another kind of fish that's commonly known as a red herring. The question under discussion is why they were replaced. The answer is not that their terms had expired.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Missing the point

Today's news release:
In response to the immigration agreement reached by the White House and Senate earlier today, Menomonee Falls Representative Jim Sensenbrenner made the following comments:

"This proposal is nothing but a massive amnesty bill that provides expedited visas for millions of illegal immigrants. This "get-out-of-jail-free" card cannot be described as a comprehensive immigration agreement. The American economy, and the American people, are not prepared to handle such a huge and immediate influx of people in the workforce.
Psssst! Jimbo! They're already here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

How's that again?

See if you can follow this convoluted piece of thinking:
OCONOMOWOC - Residents who want the United States to pull its troops out of Iraq should be more upset with the plans put forth by Democrats than with President Bush, said U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.
Let's see ... The Democrats want to bring the troops home, and have voted for a deadline to withdraw them. President Bush doesn't have any intention of pulling any troops while he's still president.

So why should "Residents who want the United States to pull its troops out of Iraq" -- a majority of the people in the US -- be upset with the Democrats?

Because F. Jim has his head screwed on backwards, apparently. And he hopes people in Oconomowoc do, too. Story.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Oh ja! We do the Liechtensteiner polka

That's the tune the F. Jim Sensenbrenners are dancing to. Sing along, if you wish.

They love Liechtenstein. And other people love picking up the tab for the Sensenbrenners' visits.

Dan Bice has the goods. Ja!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

Always Something There to Remind Us?

Think Progress announces that "House Conservatives Appoint Chief Climate Skeptic to Lead Global Warming Panel."

That would be, I'm afraid -- our own F. Jim.

Once again the 5th CD looks like we have terrible taste in Congress and a low self-regard.

The posting goes on:

The House of Representatives voted yesterday to create a new congressional committee devoted solely to addressing the global climate crisis.

Unable to block the creation of the committee, House conservative leaders are now doing everything they can to neuter it. Conservative leadership aides reportedly told Republican members that a vote in favor of the bill creating the global warming panel “would put them out of running for a seat” on the panel.

Worse, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has named Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) to be the committee’s top ranking Republican member. A look at Sensenbrenner’s record:

  • Sensenbrenner praised as ‘Inhofe of the House’: “If there is an Inhofe on the House side, it has to be Wisconsin’s James Sensenbrenner Jr.,” says the American Conservative Union’s David Keene, referring to Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who calls global warming the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”
  • Sensenbrenner led climate skeptic delegation to Kyoto conference: “As chairman of the Science Committee back in 1998, Sensenbrenner led a delegation of skeptics to the Kyoto conference and fought then-President Clinton’s attempt to go along with the Kyoto protocols.”
  • Sensenbrenner asked scientist about placing catalytic converters on cows to combat warming: “Does (it) mean to stop this increase in methane we’ve got to put catalytic converters on the backs of cows?” Sensenbrenner asked a climate scientist at a hearing last month. If cows are partly responsible for methane gases, Sensenbrenner said, that “could hit Wisconsin’s economy right between the horns.”
  • Sensenbrenner endorsed by Competitive Enterprise Institute: A spokesman for the oil industry-backed Competitive Enterprise Institute called Sensenbrenner “exceptionally well qualified” and “a good choice.”

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) — who last month claimed that global warming may have been caused by “dinosaur flatulence” — was reportedly a finalist for the ranking member slot. Only 13 percent of congressional Republicans say they believe that human activity is causing global warming, according to a recent poll, compared to 79 percent of Americans.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Wrong again, and proud of it

Sensenbrenner tells the Conservative Political Action conference that Republicans lost the last election because they "forgot to be conservatives."

Actually, the GOP got its just desserts because it went to war in Iraq under false pretenses and then totally mismanaged the war effort. Real conservatives would not have cooked up or supported that kind of international adventure.

Sensenbrenner, you'll be happy to hear, is proud of his standing in the Latino community over immigration issues. He's pretty much public enemy number one and just pleased as punch.

The Journal Sentinel has the details.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Big Jim to Hmong: Tough luck; drop dead

The Hmong who were US allies in the "secret war" against communists in Laos are considered terrorists under the Patriot Act and Real ID Acts, and are being denied green cards and asylum, the AP reports.

Big Jim is his usual compassionate, empathetic self:

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the Wisconsin Republican who was a main driving force behind both the Patriot Act and the Real ID Act as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, declined an interview request. Through a spokesman, Rajesh Bharwani, he said: "The laws are fine. If the Department of Justice and other agencies are overstepping their bounds, then the courts will stop them."
Just like they've stopped Bush and Cheney, presumably.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Right, but for the wrong reasons

"If you want to stop the war, stop the money," said Sensenbrenner. "The Democrat[ic] resolution has no force or effect. The trump card we have is the power of the purse. They have to have the guts to say we are not going to fund it. ..."

Sensenbrenner, of course, would never support cutting off the funds. He wants to put Democrats on the spot.

But he's right. If you want to stop the war, stop the money.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Sensenbrenner gets his gander up

Jim Sensenbrenner, still trying to figure out his minority status, continues to throw his weight around. Thursday, he badgered Speaker Nancy Pelosi, using an obscure rule to question her when she testified before a House committee.

The Hill has the story.

The last line of this excerpt is a little ironic. The guy who wants to ask the questions doesn't want to answer any for the media without an appointment. Apparently, what's good for the goose doesn't apply to the gander, according to House Rule XI.

...Pelosi experienced the effect of the new strategy yesterday when Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) stunned her by using a procedural tactic to force her to answer questions from members of the Science Committee and White House spokesman Tony Snow defended her right to travel nonstop across the country aboard a military jet.

After Pelosi finished making an opening statement on global warming before the Science panel, Sensenbrenner employed House Rule XI, which allows lawmakers to question witnesses for five minutes.

The move flustered Science Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) and committee aides. Gordon asked for unanimous consent to waive the rules, but Sensenbrenner did not agree.

It is rare that the House Speaker, who does not vote on or sponsor legislation, would testify before a committee; it is rarer still that lawmakers would force one of their own to submit to questioning. Lawmakers testify in committees all the time, but their colleagues routinely dispense with all but the friendliest questions.

Pelosi delivered an opening statement at a hearing where scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) testified about a report issued last week that said humans “very likely” have caused global warming.

“It’s tough being in the minority, but the American people are looking for cooperation on this very serious issue and the Speaker showed today she’s willing to talk about the issue with anyone anywhere,” said a spokesman for Pelosi.

Sensenbrenner responded in a statement to Pelosi’s allegation that “for 12 years, the [GOP] leadership stifled all discussion and debate of global warming. The long rejection of reality is over, to the relief of members on both sides of the aisle.”

Sensenbrenner, chairman of the Science Committee from 1997 to 2001, said he held hearings on global warming. He then asked Pelosi to explain the economic impact of policies that would slow global warming.

“He’s a rules kind of guy and he felt he had a right to question her,” said Sensenbrenner’s spokesman, Raj Bharwani. Whether Sensenbrenner’s plan was premeditated or extemporaneous is unclear. Sensenbrenner rarely talks to reporters without an appointment...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Big Jim just as offensive, but powerless

He's used to getting his way, but now has to settle for getting some publicity.

Have to wonder, though: Does Sensenbrenner secretly like cockfighting or dog fighting, or what's his deal?

Former chairman shakes things up on animal fighting bill

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Until January, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner ruled the House Judiciary Committee with an iron fist, refusing to bring up an anti-animal fighting bill for a vote last year despite the support of more than 300 House members.

So when a similar bill finally came up for a committee vote Wednesday, the Wisconsin Republican wasn't ready to sit on the sidelines. He tried unsuccessfully to attach an anti-abortion amendment to it. After the amendment was ruled out of order, the committee approved the bill on a voice vote.

"The answer to the age-old question of 'Which came first, the chicken or the egg?' - I would argue that it doesn't matter which came first," he said. "Both deserve our protection. Without this amendment, we will be giving more protection to chickens than we will be giving to minor children, their parents and their unborn baby."

The president of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, called the amendment "outrageous."

"It was designed to load up the bill in order to kill it," said Pacelle, whose group took out newspaper ads last year lumping Sensenbrenner in with illegal cockfighters and dogfighters.

The legislation, which now moves to the full House for a vote, would make transporting animals across state lines for fighting a felony, punishable by up to three years of jail time. Under current law, it's a misdemeanor. Cockfighting is banned in every state except Louisiana and New Mexico, and dogfighting is banned in every state.

Sensenbrenner's amendment would have made it a crime to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion to circumvent parental involvement laws.

But one of the perks he lost as chairman was the ability to rule on whether an amendment is "germane," and his successor, Michigan Democrat John Conyers, ruled this one was not.

Sensenbrenner was not alone in his crusade Wednesday.

"I will not sit here and lend my vote to a piece of policy that elevates chickens above the lives of humanity," declared Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.

Supporters of the animal fighting bill argue that cockfighting is barbaric and inhumane, and is tied to crimes such as money laundering and drug running.

Sensenbrenner spokesman Rajesh Bharwani said that the congressman was not trying to revive his influence on the committee.

"His amendment at today's meeting was about raising the point that Democrats are more interested in protecting the rights and well-being of chickens over minor girls and their babies," Bharwani said.