Thursday, January 19, 2006

Commerce Committee Politics

Jeff Jarvis had a little post about his attempt to speak his mind at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on indecency on television and radio. Apparently Jarvis contacted the legislative assistant of our own senator and committee member Frank Lautenberg to secure a spot in the hearings. However, he was informed that the senior senator from the garden state can hardly request a witness, as he is not the chairman. "It’s a prerogative of the chairman," he said to Jarvis.

Historically, committees are notoriously autocratic, with the chairmen serving as dictators who yield power only to the most trusted members of their party. Ted Stevens, the chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, rules with an iron fist. Sometimes it's comical, yet, still disturbing. Last year he coldly rebuked the attempts by committee Democrats to make oil executives testify under oath, as is standard procedure in Congress...


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