There were three issues that received a lot of attention yesterday – the President’s plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay (GITMO), and the Senate Republicans letting the press know that they decided not to hold a hearing on the President’s nominee for Supreme Court Justice before the nominee is even known. Last night was the Nevada GOP Caucus.
So these three items are on my radar today – plus there’s a poll near the end of this column asking your thoughts about some important issues.
Buckle up – it’s about to get bumpy…
President Barack Obama spoke Tuesday morning about his plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. I think the President made a compelling argument, but I am independent, and I don’t let politics get in the way of my thinking. In other words, I’m not worried about being elected or reelected or getting fired.
I urge you to read the President’s remarks HERE and form your own opinion.
Some of the key points the President made were:
Of the nearly 800 detainees once held at Guantanamo, more than 85 percent have already been transferred to other countries. More than 500 of these transfers, by the way, occurred under President Bush. Since I took office, we’ve so far transferred 147 more, each under new, significant restrictions to keep them from returning to the battlefield. And as a result of these actions, today, just 91 detainees remain — less than 100.
The President also pointed out that we already have terrorists behind bars in the United States:
I also want to point out that, in contrast to the commission process, our Article 3 federal courts have proven to have an outstanding record of convicting some of the most hardened terrorists. These prosecutions allow for the gathering of intelligence against terrorist groups. It proves that we can both prosecute terrorists and protect the American people. So think about it — terrorists like Richard Reid, the shoe bomber; Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up an airplane over Detroit; Faisal Shahzad, who put a car bomb in Times Square; and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who bombed the Boston Marathon — they were all convicted in our Article III courts and are now behind bars, here in the United States.
So we can capture terrorists, protect the American people, and when done right, we can try them and put them in our maximum security prisons, and it works just fine.
Way back in 2009, I wrote that the Two Rivers Detention Facility in Hardin, Montana, would be a great place for the detainees. It still is.
Now using the Two Rivers Detention Facility for detainees presents an added bonus! Some paranoid Montanans believe Syrian refugees are really terrorists, so having a detention facility already holding terrorists to lock them up in would be great, don’t you think?
Just seven minutes after the President concluded his remarks, I received a press release U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) basically saying “Hell no” to everything the President said about Guantanamo.
The title of the press was, “Terrorists Don’t Belong in Americans’ Back Yards” which is cute and the intern who came up with it should be rewarded, but like the President said (above) there are already “terrorists” in our back yard. So a little research before hitting the send button might be in order for Team Daines.
For those not acquainted with Daines, he is one of the extreme rightwing members of the senate. In his press releases and statements (taxpayer funded), he shows a lot of hatred toward President Obama. Some of his press releases read more like a campaign press release instead of something that is funded by taxpayer money, which I believe there are a few rules about in the old senate ethics manual.
Daines seems to be the type of politician who would probably be sending out a congratulatory press release if George W. Bush was making this announcement.
But Daines did not even send the most extreme response to the President’s announcement. That honor belongs to U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.).
The press release had this headline: “Navy SEAL Commander-Turned-Congressman Ryan Zinke Slams Obama For Plan To Bring Terrorists To America” (Yes, I had to take an extra breath to read that, how about you?)
Holy cow – did you know Ryan Zinke was a former Navy Seal Commander?
I proudly and honorably served in the military on active duty for over a decade and in the reserves for another two decades, but I don’t mention it in every column I write. In the first 44 words of the Zinke press release, he mentions he was a Navy Seal three times. There were only 195 words in the whole freaking press release!
Zinke says, “President Obama’s plan to bring terrorists to American soil is absurd, illegal and falls tragically short of the acceptable conduct of the Commander in Chief. I cannot stress enough how dangerous President Obama’s plan is, and the threats it poses to Americans at home and abroad are real.”
Like I mentioned above, there are already terrorists in prison in the United States, so the talking points provided by the Republican leaders to Daines and Zinke are incorrect.
As for U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.), he sees it differently than Daines and Zinke. Tester sent a press release with the following statement:
Closing Guantanamo protects American values and our national security. Terrorists have been using this facility as a recruiting tool, and that will end. Closing the Guantanamo prison will also save taxpayer dollars. As the closure takes place, I’ll be working to ensure the detainees are transferred only to military or Supermax prisons where they will be unable to harm Americans or our allies.
Of course, if a Republican was President Tester would probably see it differently.
By the way, Tester did not mention in his press release that he was a farmer…
The chances of the President closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay are pretty slim. It needs to be done, but once again politics will get in the way. They would have to change the law, but if Congress was on board, they could do that in a heartbeat.
So that brings me to today’s poll question: Which will happen first? Will the prison at Guantanamo Bay be closed or will Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement be confirmed?
As always, comments are welcome – and donations…
The Hill reported late Tuesday that Senate Republicans have gone all in on a Supreme Court gamble that denies even a hearing for any nominee from President Obama. Read the full story HERE.
So the Republicans have denied a hearing before the president has even named a nominee.
That’s pretty low and it will probably cause Congress to get even less done.
The Republicans appear to be losing the public relations battle, once again. The Hill also reported:
A Pew poll released this week found that 56 percent of Americans say the Senate should hold hearings, while only 38 percent say those hearings should wait until 2017.
A Fox News poll from last week found that 62 percent of respondents said Obama and Senate leaders have a responsibility to take action on the court vacancy now. Thirty-four percent said Obama should not be allowed to choose another justice so late in his presidency.
We should all be a little pissed that Republicans and Democrats can’t get anything done and won’t work together for our country.
Yes, both sides play the same games. It does not matter who did what first.
Observing the senate and house operate is like watching a first-grade class – and that class needs to be put in a timeout…
Nevada GOP Caucus:
Something interesting happened in the Nevada GOP Caucus last night. The last results I’ve seen has Donald Trump winning with about 46% of the vote – and even if you add Marco Rubio’s and Ted Cruz‘s votes together, Trump still beats them.
Unless Cruz or Rubio drop out to try and help the other, Trump should easily win the nomination. It may be too late to beat him already.
The Republican establishment should be very careful at what they do next. Also, the Democrats have to be ecstatic that Trump may be their opponent.
Meanwhile, moderates and independents are getting a chuckle out of how Trump is demolishing the Republican party.
Is this a great country or what? Merica!