Our congressman, Jim Sensenbrenner (R), had a session at the library last night. I walked over there, taking only a house key, my library card and my phone (in case SH, who was on his way to Boston, called to tell me his plane had crashed and I had to start planning a funeral).
I didn't take a pen and paper because I didn't think I would need to take notes so I could report this for you guys.
This is about the only time when Lena Taylor (left) didn't appear to be texting.
Holy smoke I thought there was going to be a riot.
Not because of Sensenbrenner. Not because of State Representative Leah Vukmir (R). But because of State Senator Lena "Wrong Way" Taylor (D), who started out by trying to convince the taxpaying audience that the Wisconsin budget wasn't that bad, really, compared to other places, and kept digging her hole deeper.
It didn't help that her personal style is rather shall we say abrasive and confrontational. Maybe she thinks she is Speaking Truth to Power. I still don't know why she was there (Wauwatosa is not her district -- it's hard to tell by the map -- maybe there are a few blocks) although considering our own state senator, Jim Sullivan, (D), did not show up, I do admire her for bothering to defend the piece of crap Wisconsin budget to a bunch of angry conservatives who aren't even her constituents.
OK. So what follows here is what I remember as far as mood and not exact words unless I use quotation marks. Next time I will take a notebook.
As we went in, we completed cards with our name and address and checked off if we wanted to ask a question, which I thought was dumb but that's how they were doing it. Being a good Midwesterner (DC has not ruined him), Sensenbrenner was not only on time but was sitting up front at 6:45, 15 minutes before the session started. He introduced Leah Vukmir, who is a state representative and is going to run against Jim Sullivan, our state senator (good! I intend to vote against him the first chance I get), and then told us he would take questions until 8:30 in order of the cards, from constituents first and then out of district, and at 8:30, he and Vukmir (Lena Taylor was not there yet) would help people with specific agency problems, like social security.
People asked good questions. What about cap and trade? the health care stuff? How is ACORN involved in the census? Sensenbrenner knows his stuff and answered thoughtfully and thoroughly, citing chapter and verse of the Constitution. I would love to have the guy over for dinner sometime. Amazingly, he did not need a teleprompter.
They asked stupid questions. Is Obama turning this country into a "Marxist state?" How can I get involved in the political process? I know we have freedom of the press, but how can we silence the liberal media? Why should health insurance companies make such "egregious" profits?
Sensenbrenner rolled his eyes (not really, but you could hear it in his voice) at these, but answered them patiently and correctly, as far as I am concerned. The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of the press and that's that but it looks like the market is working (newspapers failing, alternative press thriving) was the essence of what he told the liberal media guy. And no, Obama is not turning the US into a Marxist state for crying out loud.
I asked a question about enforcing immigration laws and birthright citizenship that prompted a very long answer. He appears to be quite passionate about this subject. Did you know that the fine for knowingly employing an illegal alien is only $100?
As Sensenbrenner was talking, a man in the back asked if he could be out of order and ask a question. "No sir! No, you may not be out of order!" Sensenbrenner replied sharply. He said that everyone had filled out cards and had waited their turn and if this man wanted to ask a question, he, too, could complete and submit a card. (You did not have to put your question on the card, just your name and address so they could be sure you were in the district, and, I suppose, to build a mailing list.)
So. We return to Taylor. Someone asked a question about taxes and Sensenbrenner remarked on federal taxes, then asked if Vukmir and Taylor wanted to comment on the Wisconsin budget. Vukmir had the easy answer of saying that she had voted against it.
Taylor had voted for it. She tried to tell us that it didn't stink. Which did not go over well because the people in the room had perfectly functioning noses and are from the Dairy State and they know a pile of manure when they smell it.
She tried to tell us that we weren't there and things were cut (yet $500,000 for the Oshkosh Opera House? $50,000 for a shooting range?) but you know things cost more like at your own house, electricity and stuff. The rumbling started.
She got louder and more defensive. We just didn't know! We weren't there! They had to focus on education!
Right. This would be the same budget that tried to wipe out the Milwaukee voucher school program as a favor to the teachers' union?
The woman behind me wrote the word "UNIONS" at the top of the page of her notebook and held it up, a la Norma Rae. The rumbling got louder.
Taylor continued that she didn't talk all pretty like Sensenbrenner but that they had done the best they could in Madison and just look, it was a lot worse in other states and they hadn't spent their way into this deficit.
That was when the guy next to me, in the Midwestern equivalent of a New Yorker sticking a finger in Taylor's face and screaming at her while a riot ensued behind him, muttered a barely audible, "Bullshit!" and tiptoed out of the room.
Sensenbrenner thanked Taylor and took the next question, but Taylor's time to shine was not over. Another man asked a question about five-day mail delivery and followed up by asking what Sensenbrenner thought about Oregon's system of vote by mail. Sensenbrenner turned the question over to Vukmir and Taylor. Vukmir said she was unsure and that she was in favor of voter ID because of the voter fraud that is pretty common in Milwaukee (how do you keep dead people from voting in that system?), but Taylor said she was all for it, which inspired some more rolled eyes.
The entire time Taylor was in front, she appeared to be texting. One questioner finally commented that her "texting was distracting." She snapped back that she was taking notes and using technology.
A few minutes later, a man asked a very specific question about the Wisconsin budget. He obviously had done his homework and knew what he was talking about. He said something to Taylor about how he hoped that the rest of the discussion could be respectful (I think he was reminding the audience to be nice to Lena Taylor, not chastising her) and she answered something like It's too late for that. Jaws dropped. Yeah, I know she already had strikes against her for being the liberal in a room of conservatives and nobody was inclined to like her and maybe she didn't care about trying to win any converts, but was she just trying to tick off people?
The evening ended on a high note when a 77-year-old Filipina naturalized citizen said in heavily-accented English that she was glad she was old and "exiting soon" so she wouldn't have to deal with this mess (that wasn't the high note). She continued. She had been all over: Asia, Europe, America. America was the best place on earth. She tells Americans all the time they should kiss the ground in America. The End.