Thursday, June 16, 2016

Last Call For Watching Out For Us

I'm glad that Democrats are trying to do something about people on the FBI terror watch list not being able to buy guns, but the fact is that wouldn't have helped in Orlando as the FBI removed Omar Mateen from their watch list two years ago.

Omar Mateen was placed on a terrorist watch list maintained by the FBI when its agents questioned him in 2013 and 2014 about potential ties to terrorism, according to U.S. law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the case. 
He was subsequently removed from that database after the FBI closed its two investigations, one official said. 
In the first investigation, Mateen was questioned by FBI agents after they were told he had made inflammatory comments that co-workers worried were sympathetic to terrorists. 
The FBI agents determined that Mateen had not broken any laws and closed the investigation, a second official said. 
They questioned Mateen again the following year because agents had learned he had contact with an American who later died in a suicide bombing in Syria. 
Agents closed that investigation because they concluded the contacts with the suicide bomber had been minimal, an FBI official said. 
Even if Mateen were still on the terrorist watch list — known as the Terrorist Screening Database — the designation would not have precluded him from buying the semiautomatic pistol and assault-style rifle that he used in Sunday's massacre.

So yeah, in this case the FBI's watch list proved utterly useless.  They closed their investigations, he went on to buy guns, and he slaughtered 49 people with them.

You know what? I have a whole hell of a lot less trust in the FBI and our surveillance regime than I did last week, and I'm thinking it's more than past time to ask some very pointed questions about whether or not Patriot Act powers are still necessary for law enforcment.

Between this and police abuses over the last decade, I've finally gotten around to the idea that we need to roll back this stuff in a major way.

Correct me if I'm wrong, guys, but this has to be yet another department where Obama has utterly failed, and Jesus it's hard to defend the guy sometimes.

Recrossing The Rubio Con

Don't look now, but in the wake of the Orlando massacre, opportunist and failed GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio might very well flip flop again and run to keep his Senate seat after all. WaPo's James Hohmann takes him to task:

Marco Rubio said yesterday that he is rethinking his decision not to seek another term in the Senate and that he may jump into the race before next Friday’s filing deadline in Florida. 
“I enjoy my service here a lot,” the senator earnestly told reporters at the Capitol. 
For anyone who has watched Rubio over the past five-and-a-half years, that statement – and the straight face with which he said it – is farcical. 
The 45-year-old has heretofore made no secret of his distaste for the world’s greatest deliberative body. His friends have said he “hates” the job. Rubio himself was unapologetic about missing more votes than any other senator during his failed presidential campaign, often complaining about how “frustrating” it is to serve as a member of Congress. 
Rubio is congenitally impatient, an unhelpful personality trait in a chamber that was designed to move slowly. James Madison’s idea when he drafted the Constitution was that the Senate would “cool” House legislation, just as a saucer cools hot tea.

Indeed, the GOP is watching control of the Senate implode in real time. GOP senators like Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte, Rob Portman and Ron Johnson are losing in rough races, and losing all of those plus Rubio's seat would mean the Dems would take back the Senate.  It's bad enough for the GOP right now that second-tier races are up for grabs and senators like Richard Burr, Pat Toomey, and even Roy Blunt are in trouble.

So yes, the obvious gamble of pushing Rubio to run is something the GOP is now willing to try, but his biggest problem is the anvil around his neck that's at the top of the 2016 GOP ticket: Trump.

Rubio called his party’s presumptive nominee a con artist and said he shouldn’t be able to have the nuclear launch codes. He also might have said something about the size of his hands. 
More recently, he’s said he’ll vote for Trump because he’s not as bad as Hillary Clinton. 
Trump will spend lots of time in the perennial battleground this fall. He may even wind up picking Florida Gov. Rick Scott as his running mate. It will be awkward for Rubio to avoid all of his big rallies, and with less and less split-ticket voting, their fortunes may be inextricably tied. 
Though there is not a sizable Mexican population in Florida, Trump will probably still galvanize record Latino turnout across the board. And Rubio’s Cuban heritage does not mean he can count on others in the Hispanic diaspora, such as the huge Puerto Rican population around Orlando, to vote for him. 
Remember too that Trump whipped Rubio in the Florida GOP primary. The senator risks alienating The Donald’s many supporters every time he speaks out against the nominee’s divisive rhetoric.

Rubio can't run away from Trump and win in a battleground state like Florida, and yet he can't win by running with The Donald either.  And a November loss now would almost certainly end his national ambitions for good.  Republicans don't like losers, folks.

We'll see if Marco runs. Frankly, I hope he does and that Democrat Patrick Murphy stomps him flat.

The Mystery Of The Missing Senator

As I said this morning, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy lead a 15-hour filibuster to force Mitch the Turtle and the GOP to at least pay lip service to the idea of allowing a vote on gun safety measures. Several Democratic senators pitched in to help Murphy out.

It's been nearly a decade since Congress made any significant changes to federal gun laws. In April 2007, Congress passed a law to strengthen the instant background check system after a gunman at Virginia Tech was able to purchase his weapons because his mental health history was not in the instant background check database. Thirty-two people died in the shooting. 
Murphy said Senate leadership agreed to allow a vote on legislation from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would let the government bar sales of guns and explosives to people it suspects of being terrorists. 
Feinstein offered the amendment in December, a day after an extremist couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, but the Republican-run Senate rejected the proposal on a near party-line vote. He said the compromise also will allow a vote on an amendment to expand background checks. 
Sen. Bob Casey, who represents Pennsylvania, spoke at around 12:30 a.m. Thursday, called on legislators to allow the votes. 
"At least put your hand up for a vote that will begin, just begin the long journey to rectify a substantial national problem that takes 33,000 people every year," Casey said. "All we're asking for is a start." 
As Murphy wrapped up the filibuster in the early hours of Thursday, he told the story of Sandy Hook student Dylan Hockley and his teacher Anne Marie Murphy, who died trying to protect him. 
"It doesn't take courage to stand here on the floor of the U.S. Senate… It takes courage to look into the eye of a shooter and instead of running wrapping your arms around a 6-year-old boy and accepting death," Murphy said. "If Ann-Marie Murphy could do that then ask yourself — what can you do to make sure that Orlando or Sandy Hook never, ever happens again."

But do you know which sitting US senator was not among the dozens who supported Murphy's filibuster by speaking out loudly in favor of gun safety regulations?

Bernie Sanders.

On Wednesday, a group of Senate Democrats launched a lengthy and spirited filibuster to pressure Congress into taking action to prevent gun violence. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wasn't at the filibuster, but he tweeted his support throughout the day in absentia. The lively filibuster continued for more than 12 hours on Wednesday — and Sanders' fellow Senate Democrats showed few signs of slowing down as the clock crept toward Thursday. 
Although he's a senator with a seat around the floor where the action took place on Wednesday, Sanders remained away from the Capitol. That's not unusual or unexpected for a presidential candidate. After all, he may not be the so-called "presumptive nominee," but he's made it clear that he won't concede to rival Hillary Clinton just yet. To keep his campaign alive, Sanders probably needs to focus more on votes from superdelegates than from senators. 
That's not to say that Sanders turned his back on his colleagues at the Capitol. On the contrary, Sanders tweeted throughout the day from his senatorial Twitter account (rather than the campaign account that you're probably more likely to follow). Like many of his fellow senators, Sanders called for a ban on the purchase of military-style weapons, like the rifle used in Sunday's shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Now, there's all kinds of excuses Bernie can make for not being at that filibuster.  Some of them might even be good excuses.  But if I'm trying to keep my campaign alive at this point, when given a national platform and an issue supposedly near and dear to his heart, Bernie chose to stay in Vermont to tweet, and that's not a decision I would have made.

Regardless of the campaign, Sanders is still the senior Senator from Vermont. He could have weighed in, I guess.


Revolutions are hard, I guess.


Related Posts with Thumbnails