A little context on safety

Last night’s Republican National Convention focused on keeping America safe. This is an enviable goal, but while bashing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on Benghazi and terrorism, three key points were missing as context.

First, while we have eight Congressional committee efforts to get to the bottom of Benghazi, at no time was it discussed that a GOP-led Congress cut funding for embassy security the previous summer. But, more importantly, why have we not investigated information that supported the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) claim that led to an invasion of Iraq which has killed 1,000 times more Americans than Benghazi not to mention many allied troops and Iraqi citizens?

This is even more important when it should be noted a member of Vice President Dick Cheney ‘s team named Scooter Libby went to jail for outing a CIA operative named Valerie Plame. The reason is her husband Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson was asked to do reconnaissance on a source of WMDs. He found no such link, but his information was intentionally misused. When Wilson wrote an op-ed piece countering this, Libby leaked Plame’s CIA cover to discredit him which is a crime.

Per the last committee’s findings, there was agreement with the findings of a report done two months after Benghazi occurred which was prepared by Admiral Mike Mullens and Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering. There are things that could have been done better with Benghazi, but eight committees worth of investigation seems highly disproportionate. And, as Speaker of the House candidate Kevin McCarthy revealed last fall that the purpose of the taxpayer-funded committees was to discredit Hillary Clinton.

Second, as I have written about before, I am having a hard time reconciling the GOP’s NRA influenced pro gun stance with making us safer. Like many Americans, unless we improve gun governance, I see very little that can be done to stop motivated lone gunmen. In multiple surveys, a significant majority of all Americans and a majority of Republican voters agree with the following steps. We must not allow the sale of weapons to people on a no-fly terrorist watch list. We need background checks on every gun sale transaction. We need extended waiting periods to allow time for the background checks and due to the number one reason for gun deaths in America being suicide.

In my view, a candidate can talk until he is blue in the face about stopping mass shootings, but until we have better gun governance, it is all talk. There is not much any President can do to otherwise stop these shootings except involving the various communities in being watchdogs and reinforcing police and investigative efforts. And, we should not alienate groups of Americans, as we all have a role in seeing less violence. No American subgroup is more American than another or less for that matter.

Third, with respect to the GOP candidate, he has already made us less safer with his campaign rhetoric and he isn’t even President. Who says this? Five retired generals and two former CIA directors, of different political parties, have all said that Trump’s comments have been a recruiting brochure for ISIS. One of these former directors, Michael Hayden has noted the danger a Trump Presidency would hold. He went further to say that much of what Trump professes is ill-advised and goes against our ideals and some of which is unconstitutional. And, one of the most effective commercials against Trump is from a sixth retired general who says Trump does not have the “temperament or judgment” to be Commander-in-Chief.

So, being safe is an enviable goal. We just need some context as to what that really looks like. And, as a final sidebar, we do not need to hear from Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani about being safe, as his comments over the past few weeks have been not only off base, but inflammatory toward race relations in America. His comments are in-keeping with divisive comments of his friend The Donald.

 

 

 

Please cease the endless Benghazi hearings (and work on something important)


Dear Representative or Senator,

Like many Americans of all political stripes, this independent voter requests that you ask Congressional leaders to cease the endless Benghazi hearings. Eight is enough, as the old TV show says. You are wasting taxpayer money and time on something that has been put to bed many times over.

Representative Trey Gowdy was made to look very foolish last fall and your first Speaker of the House candidate Kevin McCarthy’s words betrayed the motivation behind the hearings. To be frank, I do not like my tax dollars paying for political campaigns.

If you must continue, please ask Rep. Gowdy to reinvite Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Michael Mullen back in to go over the report that put Benghazi to bed in December, 2012. These report authors were not called to testify for over nine months by Rep. Darrel Issa, who led the first waves of hearings, which I have found puzzling, but not surprising.

With this new found time, Congress can improve upon the executive actions that the President made on background checks which were long overdue. The President should be applauded for this first step. Congress has punted on this issue, siding more with the NRA rather than Americans who overwhelmingly support better background checks, including 79% of Republican voters per a Pew Polling survey. Plus, 40% of all gun sales in America do not have a background check conducted – that is almost half.

I have long grown weary of the stale argument of X action would not have stopped Y mass shooting. One thing is for certain, not doing anything at all has shown to be ineffective. And, the greater number of gun deaths are what occur everyday in America, including 60% of them which are suicide.

Please ask your colleagues to stop trying to keep their job and to do their job. Campaigning does not constitute doing the job. Productive discussions around better gun control measures do.

Many thanks for your time and service.