By Andy Cohen
Welcome to the latest installment of the San Diego Congressional Watch! The new year off started rather strongly for Scott Peters (D-52), who, as reported by the San Diego Community News Network (SDCNN), was invited along with 14 other members of Congress to the White House by President Obama last month. The group previewed and discussed — with the president and Attorney General Loretta Lynch — a series of executive actions on guns that Obama subsequently introduced.
The invitation came after Peters took to the floor of Congress over the course of several days to condemn Congress’ lack of action on gun safety in the wake of a myriad of mass shootings, all taking place after the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings on Dec. 14, 2012, where 20 elementary school children and six adults were killed by a lone, deranged gunman.
“I wanted to remind people that we need to take action on this,” Peters said in an interview with SDCNN. “The president did everything he could to enforce existing laws, but it’s still going to leave a hole that Congress has to address.”
Obama’s executive actions, were predictably, roundly criticized by Republicans. Before the measures were even released, House Speaker Paul Ryan released a statement excoriating the president for attempting to act where Congress would not.
“While we don’t yet know the details of the plan, the president is at minimum subverting the legislative branch, and potentially overturning its will,” Ryan said in a statement. “This is a dangerous level of executive overreach and the country will not stand for it.”
“It takes a lot of onions to criticize the president for strengthening existing laws,” Peters responded, noting that his Republican colleagues have long insisted that enforcement of existing laws was the only remedy necessary for reducing the unprecedented rash of gun violence in recent years. “Enforcement of existing laws is exactly what President Obama is trying to do. Ninety-percent of Americans think expanding background checks is a reasonable thing to do.”
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49) is convinced that FBI Director James Comey is chomping at the bit to indict former Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, along with her longtime aide Huma Abedin, for conducting State Department business via a private email server during Clinton’s tenure.
“I think the FBI director would like to indict both Hillary and Huma as we speak,” Issa told the Washington Examiner. “I think he’s in a position where he’s being forced to triple-time make a case of what would otherwise be, what they call, a slam dunk.”
Clinton stepped down as Secretary of State in 2012, after serving during the first of Barack Obama’s two terms in office. Numerous Congressional investigations into potential violations of law have turned up empty. And while the State Department has determined that Clinton’s emails did contain a handful of items with classified information, none of that information had been declared classified until well after the fact, in some cases years after the fact. Clinton turned her email server over to the FBI in August, and the Bureau continues to investigate, but to this point has announced no findings of wrongdoing on Clinton’s or Abedin’s part.
It should be noted that Issa has made such accusations before, most notably in relation to the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, where in his role as chair of the House Oversight committee Issa insisted there was evidence of criminal wrongdoing on Clinton’s part that led to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. After years of handwringing, no such evidence was ever found.
Meanwhile, Duncan Hunter (R-50), in a fit of hyperbole, has determined that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is a “bigger threat to the Marine Corps than ISIS.”
In December, Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered all military combat positions be opened to women. The Marine Corps has insisted on maintaining some infantry positions for men only, while the other branches of the military have been working diligently to comply.
The Marines had conducted a study that found that integrated units underperformed in comparison to their all-male counterparts, but that study was rejected as flawed.
“Evidently, to the White House, the findings within reports and surveys are subjects of convenience,” Hunter wrote in an op-ed published on Fox News. “They only matter when they conform to the broader agenda, otherwise they’re meaningless. The dismissal of the Marine Corps and the special operations community in the gender integration process is proof of that fact.”
Hunter, among others, made similar arguments in response to the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” insisting that allowing gay members of the military to serve openly would destroy unit cohesion and undermine the military’s effectiveness. Our armed forces seem to have survived that sea change quite nicely, despite the dire predictions of Armageddon that preceded the end of that policy.
In a petulant response to the president’s final State of the Union address, Hunter told the Washington Times that Obama was “naïve” on foreign policy and that he has contributed to the “complete and utter chaos in the world.”
“He doesn’t understand the world,” Hunter said. “He simply doesn’t understand the world, even after being president for seven years. He’s naïve and almost childish in his world views. He lives in a house of mirrors where reality does not intrude in any way whatsoever in his world. There’s no reality in Obama’s world. None.”
But then again, Barack Obama wasn’t the one who insisted the U.S. should use tactical nuclear weapons in a preemptive military strike against Iran. It’s almost as if the war in Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with the current circumstances in the Middle East. Almost.
—Andy Cohen is a local freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.