Tag Archives: Dianne Feinstein

Senators exhibit wear and tear

Recent episodes involving two prominent U.S. senators have thrust me into a serious quandary.

I do not believe in term limits for members of Congress, but I do believe that those members should exercise proper judgment when it becomes apparent — if not obvious — that they are unable to fulfill all the complicated aspects of their job.

Perhaps you have seen the recent video of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell freezing, unable to answer a question about his re-election plans in 2026. It is the second such episode we have seen of the Kentucky senator in recent weeks.

Then we have Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California missing several months because she was battling shingles and assorted other ailments. She has returned to her post, but she clearly — according to observers — is nowhere near at the top of her game.

Feinstein 90 years of age; McConnell is 81.

You hear it said in recent times about the need for age limits for senators and House members. Not necessary, any more than slapping term limits on these individuals. Nor is it necessary for the presidency, which does have a two-term limit for anyone elected to that office. I remain somewhat conflicted about whether we need term limits for the presidency.

Over the course of history of our Congress and our presidency we have seen multiple examples of individuals who have stayed in office for far too long. Perhaps the most prominent among them is Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, the senator who served as a Democrat, an independent and a Republican. At the end of his lengthy stint in office, Thurmond was hardly able to communicate, let alone speak cogently about public policy.

There comes a time when all of us should realize when we no longer have the snap required to do our jobs. When you are an elected official representing the interests of millions of other people, such self-awareness becomes even more critical. You must have all your faculties and must be in full command of your wits to make decisions based on (a) your own principles or (b) the will of those you represent.

It looks to me that Sens. McConnell and Feinstein — two of the Senate’s heaviest hitters — are no longer able to fulfill the obligations of their high offices.

Therein lies a stern — but essential — lesson for people in public life at all levels of government.

Sen. Feinstein should quit

I am hereby joining others in suggesting that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, needs to resign her Senate seat.

She’s missed far too many votes in recent weeks because of illness. Feinstein already has declared that this is her final term in the Senate. Fine. Except that she’s unable to do the job for which she is drawing a handsome, six-figure salary.

A resignation would clear the way for Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint a new senator, someone who can show up for the work and do the fundamental task we demand of our elected representatives. Which is to vote on important policy matters.

Feinstein has enjoyed a distinguished career in the Senate after serving as San Francisco mayor. However, her time is up.

A more vibrant senator would enable the Senate to enact legislation that could stall if one of the Democrats in the majority is unable to do her job. Let us remember, too, that the Democrats’ hold on the Senate majority is mighty tenuous.

Resign, Sen. Feinstein … and thank you for your service to the country.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

OK, Sen. Cornyn, let’s start by talking about guns

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn wants to “talk about gun policy.”

The Texas Republican has accepted a challenge by a California Democrat with whom he serves in the Senate, Dianne Feinstein, to start some discussion about what to do to prevent future slaughters such as the one that occurred on Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Fla.

Now, is this the start of a move toward legislating a solution to gun violence? I am not yet holding my breath.

Seventeen people died in the carnage. High school students who survived the slaughter have risen up to issue direct threats to politicians who block efforts to legislate a remedy.

As the Texas Tribune has reported: At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, brought the issue to the fore.

“Let‚Äôs take some action,” she said. “We cannot see this continue on.”

She then mentioned two areas where compromise might be reached. The first was a “Fix NICS” bill Cornyn sponsored last fall that would hold government agencies accountable for uploading relevant information to the federal background check system.

The second was related to bump stocks, which are legal firearm enhancements that allow shooters to operate firearms as if they were automatic weapons. Several Texans said last fall that they would consider banning bump stocks after the devices were found on the guns of the man who shot dozens on the Las Vegas strip. No law has since passed.

“Nobody likes these devices. You can‚Äôt have automatic weapons on the streets,” Feinstein said. “It‚Äôs easy to fix. Why don‚Äôt we do it?”

Cornyn hasn’t been much of a friend to those who oppose the gun lobby. However, there might be the tiniest of cracks beginning to appear in the armor that has surrounded politicians who resist any effort to legislate some remedies to the type of carnage that erupted once again.

It would be a near miracle if Sen. Cornyn would help widen that crack and start to deliver some sensible legislation that doesn’t destroy the Constitution’s Second Amendment.

But, you know … stranger occurrences and alliances have taken shape atop Capitol Hill.

Major attack possible in U.S.? Do ya think?

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein says now is the time for “vigilance” after the massacre at the offices of a Paris satirical magazine.

Well, what do you know? The former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee is demonstrating an impressive command of the obvious.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/229145-dem-senator-major-attack-in-the-realm-of-possibility

Feinstein, a California Democrat, is trying to alert Americans to the possibility of a “major” terrorist attack on U.S. soil. I would argue that we’ve been on high alert ever since 9/11. And we should be on alert, possibly for as long as terrorists exist in the world.

The shootout at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris has stunned the world. Twelve people died in the melee. Three of the assassins were killed by French commandos; a fourth remains on the lam.

The Paris mayhem has brought to the fore once again that terrorists will do whatever it takes to strike fear in the world. We’ve known this all along, even before 9/11.

But we let our guard down and on that Tuesday morning 13 years ago we paid a terrible price.

I appreciate Sen. Feinstein’s word of extreme caution.

However, I hope she’s preaching to the proverbial choir.¬† We damn sure¬†ought to be on high alert already.

GOP fires back at torture report

To no one’s surprise, U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Republicans have their own version of whether “enhanced interrogation techniques” made America safer in the wake of 9/11.

They say the tactics saved lives and protected the country against further harm.

The GOP senators say the tactics were necessary to gather intelligence that led eventually to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/gop-senators-defend-cia-alternate-report-113434.html

Intelligence panel Democrats are standing by their assertion — correctly, in my view — that American intelligence officials and military leaders could have obtained all of that information and protected Americans without subjecting terror suspects to torture.

So there it is: yet another political schism has erupted on Capitol Hill.

As Politico reports: “The GOP report decried the (Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne) Feinstein study, arguing that it contained ‘faulty analysis, serious inaccuracies, and misrepresentations of fact’ to create a series of false conclusions about the counterterrorism program‚Äôs effectiveness and the CIA‚Äôs interactions with Congress and the White House.”

So, the other side has responded with what it contends is accurate analysis and objective examination of the facts. Is that what they’re saying?

I’ve noted already that this discussion is going to turn into a liar’s contest over time. One side is going to accuse the other of deceit. It’ll go back and forth.

I’ll just stick to my assertion that “enhanced interrogation” can — and should — include tactics that do not include¬†the physical torturing of¬†enemy captives. I’d even¬†allow for sleep deprivation¬†that would include¬†round-the-clock badgering of¬†detainees¬†as a way to make ’em squeal.

Still, the debate rages on.

Obama might be able to fix border crisis

What? You mean the president of the United States has the executive authority to tinker with an immigration law and can start sending some of the children back to their home countries?

And he can do it without fighting with Congress?

Do it, Mr. President.

http://news.yahoo.com/obama-may-hold-fix-flood-immigrant-kids-172132339–politics.html

Two key lawmakers, one Republican and one Democrat, think President Obama has it within his power to act. Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said the president needs to “re-engage” this effort. “We can safely get them home,” Rogers said on “Meet the Press.” He said, “And that’s where the president needs to start. So he needs to re-engage, get folks who are doing administrative work on the border. They need to make sure they send a very clear signal.”

But would he get sued for acting on his own? Let’s hope not. Congressional critics have been complaining that the president hasn’t acted forcefully enough on a whole host of issues, the immigration crisis being the latest. The children and young adults are political refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Sending them back willy nilly could expose them to mortal danger.

A 2008 law signed by President Bush was implemented to help prevent human trafficking. It supposedly makes it more difficult to send children back when they’ve entered the country illegally. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. Smugglers have taken that 2008 and sent these young people here to take advantage of that law. And for that the president has been pounded?

Democratic Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said the law allows for administration action in the event of “exceptional circumstances.” She should know; Feinstein helped write the 2008 legislation.

If the president is facing a protracted fight with Congress over the emergency spending bill he has requested, then he should just take the action he has authority to take.