Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Making sausage

Je weniger die Leute darüber wissen, wie Würste und Gesetze gemacht werden, desto besser schlafen sie nachts.

The less the people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they sleep in the night.

~Attributed to Otto von Bismarck

Room 226 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, is a hearing room where great speeches are made and our nation’s problems examined to the nth degree.

The dais is an elevated semi-circle with a façade of fine wood panels. There are 20 chairs for Senators, each with a microphone. Behind those 20 chairs are 30 more for aides and staffers.

At the focal point and at a lower elevation is the table for witnesses called by the Congress to give testimony on any number of issues. Some witnesses are there for a flogging about bird strikes or unsafe cribs. Others are called to bolster the opinion of one group or another. (Picture the purpose of “expert witnesses” called to “prove” a point in a court of law. You never call “experts” who disagree with you.)

Behind the witness table are a few rows of seats for observers, lawyers, media, and the bullpen for future witnesses.
Here are a few screenshots from room 226 on April 30, 2009. The topic is comprehensive immigration reform. I’ll try to explain them.

As the hearing begins, only three members of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration are present. The subcommittee is made up of TEN members. I wonder where the other SEVEN are? Kissing babies somewhere? Cutting ribbons at supermarkets? A fourth member will arrive later to give her speech.

Senator Charles Schumer conducts the hearing.

Senator Cornyn, ranking Republican, gives a speech.

Senator Feinstein shows up a little late and gives her speech.

Senator Kyl also speaks.
After 45 minutes, the Senators disappear to cast a vote on the floor. After a half-hour recess only TWO return.
Senator Cornyn leaves two hours into the hearing. (Well, that's actually only an hour and a half of hearing because they recessed to take that vote.) Schumer does the remaining hour and fifteen minutes all by himself.
You have to wonder how important immigration reform really is when you consider how sparsely attended this hearing really was.
Who really runs government? Well, in order to conclude this hearing it took the coaching of TWO staffers to end it properly. And Schumer has been in Washington since 1981.
Staffer ONE explains it to Schumer:
Staffer TWO helps him out:
Staffers ONE and TWO double-team the Senator from New York to make sure the hearing is closed properly:

The entire hearing was nonsense. No wonder even the members of the subcommittee show little interest. The only real expert in immigration law and the history of reform was Kris Kobach, and he was treated like dirt by Schumer.

At one point Schumer deliberately skipped over Kobach in a question he asked the other three members of that panel.

At another point he said Kobach was only interested in opposing amnesty and that was that.

Despite Schumer's frequent statements that the panel represented a variety of views on the subject, it was in fact a stage show of "expert witnesses" in favor of legalization.

I wonder if Schumer even listens to his own words. He began and ended the hearing with the opinion that Americans like legal immigration but do not like illegal immigration. Yet everyone who testified, with the exception of Kobach, was in favor of rewarding illegal activity with legalization. Not once did anyone discuss the incentive for future illegal entry created by amnesty/legalization.

Enjoy your sausage.

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