I was bored this afternoon and started watching C-SPAN. Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California was questioning AG Alberto Gonzales.
I figured that if I knew anything about Maxine Waters, this was to be one of the rare times that C-SPAN wouldn't put me to sleep. I wasn't disappointed.
Waters was like a mother scolding her child. She chided Gonzales for showing up in her district to install surveillance cameras without notifying her so she could prepare her constituency, a courtesy generally extended to most congresspeople. Gonzales had nothing to say beyond "yes, that would have been polite." She then pointed out the Justice Department's failure to enforce its own immigration laws - seems that federal contractors in New Orleans are hiring illegal immigrants and paying them sub-poverty wages. This was news to me - and apparently to Gonzales, who could only recite some mantra about how "we are enforcing the law" (which, apparently, he's not, as Waters proceeded to point out). It was truly one of the more impressive bullshit calls I've seen all year - even better than Jon Stewart's upbraiding of John McCain for making nice with Jerry Falwell.
(When I think about it, I don't know why this hasn't been covered more, especially with the current shitstorm surrounding illegal immigration. It adds a whole new dimension to the debate. To the enforcement-only crowd - how do you expect laws that do not address the status of our current illegal immigrants to be effective when even our own government benefits from exploiting illegal immigrants?)
For her troubles, the next questioner (some guy named Franks from AZ) accuses her of "impertinence." Oh yeah, I forgot - accusing a Republican of making a mistake is impertinent.
Update: I returned to the TV while the even more passionate Robert Wexler (D-FL) was talking about a creepy-sounding Pentagon program that gathers intelligence on "credible threats" - including innocuous anti-war protests. Read a Newsweek article on it here (warning: Newsweek has a habit of overhyping, and this article is no different). Here's the Post's William Arkin's take (and here's another one). And enjoy some Freedom of Information Act requests and acquisitions courtesy of the ACLU. And here's MSNBC's copy of a partial list of threats. If you want to learn more about it, just google "pentagon talon program" or "credible threat list" or something like that. It's more than a little disturbing. Apparently there were a few reports on it back in December and January, but it's since died down - kudos to Wexler for bringing it up again, if only to the limited C-SPAN audience.