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June 10, 2005

GOP Chairman Walks Out of Meeting. [Dave at Garfield Ridge]

WASHINGTON - The Republican chairman walked off with the gavel, leaving Democrats shouting into turned-off microphones at a raucous hearing Friday on the Patriot Act.

The House Judiciary Committee hearing, with the two sides accusing each other of being irresponsible and undemocratic, came as President Bush was urging Congress to renew those sections of the post-Sept. 11 counterterrorism law set to expire in September.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the panel, abruptly gaveled the meeting to an end and walked out, followed by other Republicans. Sensenbrenner declared that much of the testimony, which veered into debate over the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, was irrelevant.

Read the rest here.

Can you really blame him for shutting down the hearing? This was the *11th* hearing held on the Patriot Act reauthorization. . . since April. How many more hearings are necessary on the legislation?

Are you honestly telling me that, if only Chairman Sensenbrenner had that all-important 12th hearing, Jerry Nadler would be convinced to vote for the Patriot Act? Hell, Nadler couldn't be persuaded to vote for the Patriot Act if it came smothered in eleven herbs and spices.

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, speaking immediately after Sensenbrenner left, voiced dismay over the proceedings. "I'm troubled about what kind of lesson this gives" to the rest of the world, he told the Democrats remaining in the room.
Always a willing stooge, Zogby thinks that the rest of the world cares at all how the United States House of Representatives holds its hearings. The height of egotism, I think.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, in a statement, said the hearing was an example of Republican abuse of power and she would ask House Speaker Dennis Hastert to order an apology from Sensenbrenner.
Or else what, Nancy? Will you go off in the corner and weep for democracy? Or just continue lecturing us on how "real" Americans display their patriotism?

Stop lecturing us, Nancy, we get it, you're pissed.

The Washington media always entertains me because they treat congressional hearings as serious business when they're political theater at best-- and *bad* political theater at worst. I work with them for a living, trust me: there are no surprises on Capitol Hill.

A hearing is a kabuki dance. The staffers write the questions. The members ask the questions. Every once in a great while, one member or two gets an original thought, but for the most part these things are scripted tighter than a Tarantino flick. Oh, and the witnesses invariably know what they are going to be asked, because the committee staff provides them the questions in advance. You know, to prepare them for the "discussion."

And, in those precious few unscripted moments, the questions are, to be honest, incredibly dumb. What typically happens is the member perks up from his crossword long enough to realize he heard the Secretary of Defense mention Gitmo, so he decides to chime in with his canned rant about Gitmo. . . even if the SECDEF said nothing at all controversial about Gitmo except that there is, indeed, a Gitmo.

Then again, we all know now how the fact that there is a Gitmo is what is most controversial to these critics. What, would they feel better if we held these jihadis in Rikers Island? In Jerry Nadler's fleshy throat-pouch? In the big empty waste where Nancy Pelosi once kept her soul?

Hell, I'm with Sensenbrenner on this one. No more hearings. Nobody's learning anything, nobody is listening, either in Congress or in America. Just hold the damn votes and be done with it.

But "voting" implies "work," so I won't be holding my breath.

This posting was made on my personal computer.

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posted by Ace at 06:50 PM

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