Update — GOP Rises Above the Lowest Depths

Further to House GOP Sinks to New Low, I see via the wonderful Carpetbagger site that, Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has decided to revise his committee's records to remove the multiple inaccurate and slanderous descriptions of Democratic amendments.

(Example: an amendment to exclude bus and taxi drivers from criminal liability for transporting a child across state lines, on the theory that ordinarily they would be unaware of her destination was reported as a bill to “exempted sexual predators from prosecution if they are taxicab drivers, bus drivers, or others in the business of professional transport”.)

The act is gone; the stench lingers.

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14 Responses to Update — GOP Rises Above the Lowest Depths

  1. Bricklayer says:

    Can you clarify your position? Do you mean to say it was dirty pool to imply that dems were indifferent to the risks posed by “real” sexual predators, or that it was wrong to use the term “sexual predator” to describe someone who would assist a minor in obtaining an abortion without parental notification? Which do you think Sensenbrenner was really doing?

    I think Sensenbrenner only meant to accomplish the latter, in an effort to impress the anti-abortion constituency. I don’t think he meant to give anyone the serious impression that dems were really trying to aid and abet those more commonly thought of as sexual predators like rapists, pedophiles, etc.. I think he was just using charged hyperbole to point out that pro-choice groups might scheme up a caper where a “pro-choice-shuttle” or “abortion trolley” picks up young teenage girls for an out-of-state trip without parental notification of the trip or the abortion. Given the radical tacticts on both sides of the abortion debate, his concern is not without merit.

    Thus, I am forced to wonder what your (and the chain of blogs you linked to on this story) true motives really are? Are you attacking him for an underhanded attack on democrats? Because I don’t think that’s what really happened. I don’t think there was necessarily an attack on democrats, rather an attack on radical pro-choicers who would exploit any loophole possible to thwart the proposed law. You’ve picked the wrong target.

    It seems to me that you or the blog you linked to (and maybe the blog that guy linked to) has distorted Sensenbrenner’s comments to make it look like he attacked dems, rather than who he really attacked, namely pro-choice advocates who oppose parental notification. Rather than attack parental notification, the REAL issue, somewhere some liberal/dem decided to spin it into the old “look another republican is ranting” game, because it would be too dangerous to attack parental notification because most moderates on the abortion issue support notification.

    I can see how you got that impression, because the Carpetbagger spins it that way, as does the Think Progress. This is the danger in relying on blogs as news or journalism. I prefer to get the facts and think for myself.

    You could still think it was inappropriate to use “sexual predator” to refer to pro-choice advocates who would be willing to defy notification and assist minors. But that would hardly be sinking to new depths within the context of the abortion debate, in fact it would be rather mild language in that context.

    Did anyone bother to look into Sensenbrenner’s background, to see that in 2002 he chaired a comittee dealing with legislation proposing solutions (eg. Amber Alert) to the problems of child abductions by sexual predators, and that as a result he’s a little more sensitive to potential loopholes that could be used to transport children without knowledge of their parents? Maybe the guy just had a lot of “what ifs” on his mind.

    Are his concerns really unfounded? why should cabbies be exempted anyway? Are they exempted from accomplice liability if a passenger gets in and says, “hey man, take me to a crackhouse?” “Hey man, take me somewhere I can score some weed?” “Hey man, take me to a hooker?” Can a minor get in and say, “hey man, take me to a bar that won’t card me and will serve me?” So why should this be any different? Even if he doesn’t know the address until he gets there, once he does, and realizes where she has brought him and why, can he still stick his head in the sand? Is someone a sexual predator if they aid a minor in getting an abortion in violation of this law requiring notification? I such a term really unfair if the speaker is morally opposed to abortion? If he has a good-faith legal opposition to abortion (with or without notification?)? Shouldn’t the law be drafted as clearly as possible?

    Are you chiding a republican for doing the same thing you’d praise your students for?

  2. anon says:

    I suggest the purchase of a disemvoweller.

  3. luminousvoid says:

    ” Are you attacking him for an underhanded attack on democrats? Because I don’t think that’s what really happened. “

    He misrepresented their intentions in a committe report. What else could it be?

  4. michael says:

    It was dirty pool to re-write a member’s description of his own amendment. That was unprecedented. And to do it in a way to mis-state his views, in a manner calculated to be politically damaging, was very dirty pool. This is obvious to anyone who reads the sources. “Underhanded” seems quite mild.

  5. notherbob2 says:

    If printing the legal effect of their amendments is misrepresenting their intentions then he did so. If you read the record, their INTENTIONS in offering the amendments are clear and above reproach. What exasperated Rep. Sensenbrenner is that the legal effect of their amendments was what he stated it was and they (presumably because he was “the enemy”) would not listen to reason. Do you believe that the amendments were voted down simply because they were offered by Democrats? Whom are you going to believe; the liberal posters here in the cocoon or your own lying eyes? Past comments will lead you to the actual record, although you may need someone with legal or criminal law training to explain the effect of the amendments. Or, what the hell, who cares about the truth. Just accept the poster’s comment that Sensenbrenner’s characterizations were “inaccurate” and see what “the Times” has to say today.

  6. michael says:

    It is commonly the case that amendments have many effects. For example, amendments to spend money increase the deficit, lower the value of the dollar, and increase the chance of economic collapse akin to Argentina. But the norm is that the author is the master of the summary.

    (I also think your characterization of the legal effects is unfair: while it is correct that the amendments could have been drafted better to make the element of mens rea clearer rather than looking just at employment, their meaning is pretty clear and a court wouldn’t have had that much trouble working it out. Especially if it were allowed to look at legislative history. Which, incidentally, is yet another reason why allowing third parties to re-write the summary is such a bad idea: it confuses reviewing courts.)

  7. notherbob2 says:

    Michael, your readers (those who took the time to read the transcript and therefore know the truth) have just seen how you create a “true, but innacurate” characterization. Your “Bush lies” comments are made of the same stern stuff. Good enough for [your comments about] government work. Only comedians are allowed this much license with the truth. Pundits, if they are to have any credibility, must uphold a higher standard. One final note for those not familiar with lawyer talk: Michael’s statement “I also think … legislative history.” Is the equivalent of “OK, so you’re right, it’s no big deal.”

  8. Mojo says:

    If a Republican had offered an amendment to a bill intended to give tuition money to orphans and a Democrat called it “An amendment to give money to homosexual terrorists”, would you call that a fair characterization? It is accurate, in that it isn’t impossible that there might be an orphan who was also a homosexual and a terrorist and the amendment would indeed give them tuition money. But that certainly wasn’t the intent of the amendment.
    Furthermore, if the original description was accurate, doesn’t that mean that the revised wording Sensenbrenner is now inserting into the official record is false? That would mean that he’s now using his official governmental position to hide attempts to protect sexual predators. Oh my!

  9. michael says:

    “Notherbob2” (aka “Robert Fulton”)

    Your comment above clears up a mystery: if this is what you consider normal dialog, then it’s not surprising that you found the GOP’s behavior to be inoffensive.

    For the record:

    1. I don’t think you’re right.

    2. I don’t see how a person of good will and ordinary command of the English language could possibly look at what I wrote about legislative history above — I said that yet another reason why it would be wrong to allow anyone but the author of an amendment to write summaries is that the summary is a possible source of evidence of legislative intent (which means that a third party shouldn’t be putting words in the author’s mouth) — and see it as in any minuscule way endorsing the various types of apologetics you have been putting forth with such energy.

    3. Perhaps it would be better if you were to revive your blog (blogger profile/4621037) instead of trolling on mine?

  10. pike says:

    notherbob2 and Bricklayer are –again– up to what I usually am seeing from them on this site: trying to make a loss of face for the “team” look a little bit better by slinging some distraction into the fray.

    Bricklayer: I defy you to find a case of michael praising a student for characterizing an exclusion of a commercial transporter from the application of law as “protecting a sexual predator who also happens to be a taxi driver.” It’s abusurd to imply he would and you know it. The “real” issue is that Sensenbrenner is drunk with power (for no good reason) and thought he could pull a cute stunt. He’s had to undo it because his own efforts made him look bad. What puzzles me is why you don’t think it makes him look bad. You’d do the same? Maybe instead Sensenbrenner should’ve had someone threaten to kick the Democrat offering the amendment in the head (and unfortunately “uncivil” but otherwise quite expected result of rudely asking whether the proposed law should mean what it seemed to mean without the amendment). You’ve a better-established record of defending that kind of behavior.

    notherbob2: “printing the legal effect of their amendments is misrepresenting their intentions then he did so” If only he had done so. Instead, he mangled the legal effect of the proposed amendments hoping to score some kind of revenge, kind of like how you are mangling the facts of the matter at hand. Think it through before you reply.


  11. notherbob2 says:

    Trolling? I have been trying to discuss the issue of whether or not your statement that Rep. Sensenbrenner’s versions of the amendments were “inaccurate” was true. Before that I was trying to discuss the issue of whether or not your statement that these same amendments were “lies”. My point was that you casually mischaracterized them as “lies” and as being “inaccurate” when they were true. So far you and your mini-me (ant) have used roughly 3,000 words and delayed your main attack until the original comments have passed from the scene to:
    1. Launch an ad hominem attack on me, including innuendo about my ex-blog, of which I am quite proud – you may reprint any portions you like on your blog.
    2. You boldly state: “you found the GOP’s behavior to be inoffensive.” Any reader can confirm, or check the record to see that I clearly have labeled the comments with several descriptions, all of which characterize it as very offensive (at least to the sponsors of the amendment). I do not contest that they were slanderous, only that they did not constitute legal slander.
    3. Implied that pointing out an inaccurate statement on your blog is not “normal dialog”.
    4. Demonstrated consummate skill at using the tactics of Joe McCarthy just to keep from admitting that your original, admittedly passionate, polemic labeled something a lie that was not a lie.
    5. “Apologetics: a·pol·o·get·ics n. (used with a sing. verb) Formal argumentation in defense of something, such as a position or system.” …GuruNet Not really anything to do with an apology, really.
    5. The liberal cocoon is labeled such because those trapped in it use the tactics you have used to discourage input from any source that is not part of the claque of syncophants who don’t notice or pretend not to notice your casual regard for the truth when discussing your political enemies.

  12. Bricklayer says:

    Can we get back to my original question? Now, the committee heard:

    “Congress committee members heard the tragic testimony of Marcia Carroll, whose pregnant 14-year-old daughter was transported across Pennsylvania state lines by her boyfriend’s abusive relatives to abort her baby in February 2005, despite her decision to keep her baby. Pennsylvania’s parental consent law was not sufficient to protect this young girl from being subjected to an abortion in New Jersey, a state that does not require parental consent.”

    There were also rejected amendments:

    “# an amendment by Rep. Nadler that would have exempted grandparents and adult siblings from being charged with a crime for transporting a minor across state lines for an abortion without parental or guardian consent, 12-19;
    # an amendment by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) that would have exempted taxicab drivers, bus drivers or others in the business of professional transportation from being charged with a crime for transporting a minor across state lines for an abortion without parental or guardian consent, 12-18; and
    # an amendment by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) that would have exempted members of the clergy, godparents, aunts, uncles, or first cousins from being charged with a crime for transporting a minor across state lines for an abortion without parental or guardian consent, and would have directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the number of unsafe and illegal abortions performed on minors affected by the bill, 13-20.” http://www.womenspolicy.org/thesource/article.cfm?ArticleID=1635

    These were all attempts to poke loopholes in the law. How can you possilby say that when a minor hires a cab to cross state lines, and is dropped off at a gynecologist or similar clinic, that a cab driver didn’t aid and abet? What if he knows the purpose of the trip? What is the business of “professional transportation”? What if a pro-choice groups starts a shuttle service for $1 minor gets a ride accross state lines?

    Even if you don’t like the use of the term “sexual predator” or “sex offender” to describe one who would violate this law, how can you possibly characterize these amendments as anything but a radical pro-choice attempt to take some steam out of the bill? You honestly believe Scott was really concerned about cab drivers doing hard time over this? Do you really think this would be characterized as a strict liability crime, i.e. cab driver’s convincing a jury he didn’t know wouldn’t save him? It seems more and more to me to be an attempt to poke a loophole that a pro-choice group could exploit, not a good faith concern about poor innocent cabbies. Come on already. Why in G-d’s name should the clergy be exempt?! Which clergy? Whats to stop a radical pro-choice group from starting a sham religion? Its now possible to get ordained over the Internet for G-d’s sake!

    Either that, or one must really wonder what some senators are made of if they are honestly losing sleep over cabbies. Concern over prosecutors locking away cabbies my ass.

    A dose of common sense: This law seeks to protect parents from complete strangers performing medical procedures on their minor children without their knowledge. Even if you are pro choice, I cannot fathom that any parent, ANY parent would tolerate a stranger’s transporting of their child across state lines for an abortion without telling you. Even if you are pro choice, I think many pro choicers still believe that parents may make that decision for the minor child. Not the grandparents, not the “clergy”, but the parents.

    Look at those proposed amendments, and how they would affect parents. Which party is sinking to a new low? Was Sensenbrenner really wrong to use the term “sexual predator”? How else do you describe someone that exploits the reproductive system of minor girls for political gain? To me that seems exactly what the proposed amendments sought to do…poke holes in the law to impress radical pro-choicers.

    michael keeps trying to frame the debate in terms of procedure, rather than substance. Looking at the big picture, it seems to me that there was a messy skirmish over abortion rights, and both sides played hard ball. Politics as usual. I think he and the others are avoiding the substance of what the whole fracas was over because its a political third rail for liberals in today’s climate. I don’t think he started it, I think he got sucked into it by other blogs that sought to draw attention away from the shameful proposed amendments by focusing on Sensenbrenner’s partisan procedural conduct.

    As an aside, I would be interested if michael posted his thoughts on the legality and morality of the underlying bill and the proposed amendments.

  13. pike says:

    Again with the distractions. All Bricklayer seems to have to offer is what amounts to a defense of Sensenbrenner’s absurd attempt at theatrics–that the Dems had it coming because they were opposing the efforts to criminalize certain behavior. Had a kick in the head coming? Maybe next time.

  14. Joe says:

    14th Comment

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