By Andy Cohen | Congressional Watch
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-50) made the news again this month, and once again, not in a good way. Hunter has been no stranger to controversies. Just in the last year he has been caught using campaign funds for personal expenditures; including vacations, private school tuition and school meals for his children, oral surgery, and air travel for his pet bunny, among other things. He also just recently discontinued $3,000 monthly payments to his wife, Margaret, for “consulting work.” Despite having supposedly paid back $62,000 in personal expenditures, Hunter and his campaign are currently under federal investigation for violating campaign finance laws.
This is old news, you say. It has been covered in this very column several times. It is evidence, however, of just the sort of poor judgment that has been exercised repeatedly by one of the San Diego region’s five representatives to Congress. Committing campaign finance fraud is bad enough, and could land Mr. Hunter in prison. But at least it is not the kind of poor judgment that will get tens of thousands, or even millions, killed. But that, as it turns out, is also one of Hunter’s specialties.
In 2013, Hunter appeared on C-SPAN and suggested that while putting American boots on the ground in a conflict with Iran would be a “horrible” thing, the U.S. should instead launch a tactical nuclear strike against the Middle Eastern power, that at the time, had a budding nuclear weapons capability of its own.
The Obama administration, with then-Secretary of State John Kerry leading the way, has since shelved the Iranian threat through a treaty that puts their nuclear development programs in mothballs. While it remains to be seen how long that lasts, as President Trump has repeatedly threatened to pull the U.S. out of that agreement; one that even the Trump administration agrees Iran is holding to.
Hunter, however, will not be deterred. He seems bound and determined to get his war, and this president seems eager to give it to him.
“You can assume, right now, that we have a nuclear missile aimed at the United States and here in San Diego,” Hunter said Sept. 21, during an appearance on local TV station KUSI. “The question is, do you wait for one of those? Or two? Do you pre-emptively strike them? And that’s what the president has to wrestle with. I would pre-emptively strike them. You could call it declaring war, call it whatever you want.”
First, it is unclear whether North Korea has a viable intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States, let alone San Diego; and/or has a nuclear warhead small enough to be carried on such a rocket. What we do know is that they have tested nuclear bombs, and, separately, missiles designed to deliver those warheads. We do not know if they have the capability of combining the two. They’re working on it, but they’re not there yet. So this is nothing more than conjecture and fearmongering on Hunter’s part.
Beyond that, there is no pre-emptive military solution to the North Korea crisis. We know this because the Trump administration’s former chief political strategist, Steve Bannon, said so. North Korea has tens of thousands of conventional weapons at the ready and aimed at Seoul, capable of obliterating the entire region in a matter of hours. Any pre-emptive strike will immediately place 25 million South Koreans who live in the greater Seoul area, which is 35 miles from the North Korean border, in danger. There are also roughly 150,000 Americans living in Seoul.
But apparently Duncan Hunter, a military veteran himself, has so little regard for innocent human life that he is eager to start World War III and sacrifice the lives of thousands of American servicemen and women in order to satisfy his own bloodlust. The worst part is that it will likely take a conviction and prison sentence — much like Duke Cunningham, another former Republican representative from San Diego — to remove Hunter from office.
On Sept. 14, Scott Peters (D-52) announced his vote against a partisan spending package that removed funding from the U.S.-Mexico Water Infrastructure Grant. The program provided resources to prevent persistent sewage spills into the Tijuana River Valley and onto the beaches of Imperial Beach, among other things. The bill passed the House with only Republican votes.
“Eliminating this program would take away one of our tools to improve sewage infrastructure along the border and prevent these constant spills that threaten public health and damage our quality of life,” Peters stated in a press release. “It also threatens the cross-border cooperation and leadership that is necessary to keep sewage out of American waterways.”
Four days later, Reps. Juan Vargas (D-53) and Darrell Issa (R-49) introduced the bipartisan Tijuana River Valley Comprehensive Protection and Rehabilitation Act that aims to restore funding to improve sewage infrastructure and prevent sewage spills along the Mexican border with San Diego.
“Sewage from Tijuana has been flowing into the Tijuana River Valley, into beaches in San Diego County and our communities for too long,” said Vargas, in a joint statement with Issa. “This legislation will help rehabilitate the Tijuana River Valley and rebuild the infrastructure needed to prevent future spills.”
“The impact of these continuing spills will be felt for generations to come, unless we take action to stop it now,” Issa added in the statement. “Solving this problem will only come with strong bipartisan and international cooperation. I’m proud of the work Juan and I have put into this bill to ensure that it gets cleaned up and that we take preventative measures to ensure it never happens again.”
—Andy Cohen is a local freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.