Congressional Watch – March 2016

Posted: March 11th, 2016 | Congressional Watch, Featured, News | No Comments

By Andy Cohen

Welcome to the heart of primary season and a brave(?) new world where reality TV has utterly hijacked what most Americans until now had considered to be a fairly serious endeavor; running to be the next president of the United States.

If you were asked a year ago, would you have predicted that Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, would be giving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heartburn? And NO ONE would have seriously postulated that Donald Trump would be this close to wrapping up the Republican nomination for POTUS as we headed into Super Tuesday.

congressional_watchYet that’s exactly where we are. An avowed “Democratic Socialist” is making waves on the Democratic side of the race and an apparently proud xenophobic, narcissistic billionaire racist is running away with the Republican nomination.

Make no mistake about it: Donald Trump is a bigot of the highest order. How else can one explain his refusal to denounce the support of the Ku Klux Klan and that organization’s former Grand Wizard David Duke?

Yeah, I know, Trump eventually did dismiss the KKK and their former leader, but only after a full day of waffling and insisting he didn’t know anything about the Klan, and that he had to do some research on the group, and that he didn’t know who David Duke was. Don’t buy the bull puckey: The Donald knew exactly who David Duke and the KKK were, despite his insistence to the contrary. There’s this thing called video, after all.

Seriously Donald? You don’t know what the Ku Klux Klan is?

Yet all of the outlandish, despicable, and outright disturbing things that Trump has said on the campaign trail apparently doesn’t bother at least one local member of Congress: Duncan Hunter (R-50). The vaping congressman threw his support behind Donald Trump in a San Diego Union Tribune op-ed, after having previously backed former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who dropped out of the race.

“In the national game of politics, he’s got a winning message and the backbone to see it through,” Hunter wrote.

“With the stakes so high, a Trump presidency stands to provide the right leadership to unleash the power of the U.S. economy, secure the borders, and revitalize the armed forces,” he said.

Hunter also noted that a Trump presidency is “not an idea fancied by some Republicans, but they’ll need to get over it and determine what about Trump is attractive to them and what about Trump has generated so much support among voters.”

So, in other words, if you like policy screeds that entail in totality “something terrific”; an anti-Hispanic message; an anti-black message that has earned the full-throated support of white nationalist groups; blatant disregard for the First Amendment and freedom of religion; misogyny; a campaign a middle school playground would cringe at; then yes, Donald Trump is your man.

Being president of the United States is a serious job, and apparently Duncan Hunter thinks a reality TV star who has debased the entire campaign by tacitly inciting violence against anyone who disagrees with him is a serious candidate.

Last month, President Obama forwarded a plan to Congress that would once and for all close the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The plan would consider 13 different sites within the United States to take in the remaining detainees. The detention center has been a source of consternation since popping onto the national radar shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been a major recruiting tool for terrorist organizations around the world. Meanwhile, thousands of terrorists are currently incarcerated in facilities throughout the U.S. without incident.

Darrell Issa (R-49) compared any potential order by Obama to close the facility to the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of the Cherokee Nation in the 1830s to Oklahoma, in which 4,000 people died.

“It’s an old example,” Issa told Fox News, “but Andy Jackson, the founder of the Democratic Party, in the Trail of Tears defied the Supreme Court and marched Native Americans to their death.”

So closing a detention center that houses roughly 100 “enemy combatants” is somehow comparable to the tragic and unfortunate treatment of Native Americans over 180 years ago? I’m not seeing it.

On the other side of the aisle, meanwhile, Susan Davis (D-53) noted in a press releasethat “with about 2,000 personnel watching over 91 detainees, Guantanamo is a fiscally irresponsible approach to this issue and it will cost significantly more over the long term to keep detainees there than transfer them to a U.S. facility. Furthermore, our judicial system has a proven record of trying and incarcerating terrorists, with over 500 terrorists currently being held in U.S. prisons.

“Congress should lift the restrictions that have prevented the president from closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,” Davis said.

Scott Peters (D-52) visited Flint, Michigan, the city whose water supply has been poisoned for the past two years due to a fiscally motivated decision at the state level to switch supply sources from the Detroit water system — which gets its water from Lake Erie — to the Flint River, which is notoriously polluted. The corrosive water ate away at the protective lining of the lead pipes in the Flint water system, causing high levels of toxic lead to poison the city’s entire water supply.

Peters, a native of the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Michigan, and a former environmental law attorney, was a co-sponsor of a bill, along with Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) whose district includes Flint, that strengthened EPA requirements to notify residents when concentrations of lead in drinking water exceeds safe levels.

—Andy Cohen is a local freelance writer. Reach him at

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