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Ruben Navarrette: Don't defund the FBI, defend it

From the commentary: We need a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to threats against the lives of individuals in law enforcement, and it should matter not one bit which side of the political aisle the threats are coming from.

Ruben Navarrete column logo
Ruben Navarrete column logo
Kit Grode / Tribune graphic
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SAN DIEGO — Welcome to Part II of our awkward national conversation about defunding the police.

Ruben Navarrete column logo
Ruben Navarrete column logo
Kit Grode / Tribune graphic
From the commentary: From all the reporting I've done about the Latino vote over the past three decades, along with the experience I've had for nearly 40 years as a Latino voter, there are a handful of factors that determine whether Latinos — who tend to register Democratic by 2 to 1— are at least open to voting for a Republican.
From the commentary: Cartoonist Dick Wright draws on Donald Trump's attacks on other Republicans.
From the commentary: The poor guy. Biden always sings the same song. He is convinced that he's doing all the right things, and he can't understand why he is not getting credit. So, he reasons, it must be because the messaging isn't working. The American people just don't know everything he's doing. Biden thinks his problem is communicating. It's not. It's competency.
From the commentary: Who says Republicans and Democrats can't cooperate? When it comes to offending Latinos, the parties inadvertently come to each other's aid by saying or doing something boneheaded just as the other is floundering.

As with its predecessor, this installment also has a racial angle. Republicans are trying to create an artificial distinction between local and federal law enforcement. They want to keep funding local police departments — which have more daily contact with Latinos and African Americans. At the same time, some of them are calling for the defunding of federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI — just as they have long threatened to do with the Internal Revenue Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — which are often more likely to set their sights on White people.

The "defund" shoe is on the other foot. The same folks on the right who opposed calls to defund the police — after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020 — now want to defund the FBI.

Conservatives are furious that two dozen agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation had the temerity to execute a legitimate search warrant signed by a federal magistrate and raid a private residence at Mar-a-Lago. The agents seized about 20 boxes of top secret government documents, which The Washington Post reported included highly sensitive material about nuclear weapons. According to the BBC, some of the papers recovered were marked "TS/SCI," which means they could cause "exceptionally grave" harm to U.S. national security interests if our enemies got ahold of them.

The FBI is staying on brand. It is supposed to defend the United States against all enemies - foreign and domestic. What if the latter includes a former president who is being investigated for possibly violating the Espionage Act?

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After the raid of the home of former President Donald Trump, right-wingers lost their minds but found a new love for due process.

It was suddenly open season on the FBI, and some Republicans even appropriated a battle cry that they had previously mocked.

Last week, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz, tweeted: "Our country is becoming unrecognizable. The FBI, and the Regime they take marching orders from, are the enemy of the American People. They must be stopped. DEFUND THE FBI."

From the commentary: What difference might it make if instead of imposing the latest fads and trends in our schools and universities, students were taught what matters most ñ honor, integrity, a moral code that has been accepted by most Americans for generations, along with the previously mentioned personal responsibility and accountability for one's actions? But don't people have different views on such things? One might ask how those different views are working out and advise a return to the values that once promoted the general welfare.
From the commentary: In Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, as well as Arizona, voters rejected election-denying candidates for governor. That’s important because it’s up to the governor to certify the election results in his or her state. Refusing to accept the outcome of the 2020 presidential race in the face of incontrovertible evidence showed a willingness on the part of those conniving GOP candidates to subvert future elections they don’t like.
From the commentary: What we need now, along with much more national media coverage, is for some major politicians of both parties to come up with a plan to defeat the scourge of fentanyl — and have the spines to carry it out.
From the commentary:
From the commentary: Perhaps the ultimate point is that Pompeo’s attack on Weingarten and teachers must do just that. Pompeo’s demagogic words must bring together all the sane patriots who still call themselves Republicans. They must unite to condemn his message — and tell Americans we must work with our teachers to help them build the infrastructure that will be America’s ultimate bridge to tomorrow.
From the commentary: Ocasio-Cortez has a long record of pushing primary challenges to Democrats deemed insufficiently radical. These attempts are almost always unsuccessful though draining to the incumbent.
From the commentary: This fetish with identity started as a tic of the left, which tends to believe that voters want candidates who represent certain groups, as opposed to certain ideas. What it should have learned by now is that Republicans are perfectly capable of running their own candidates of color, witness their support in the Georgia senate race of the unintelligible Herschel Walker, a Black football player.
From the commentary: Still, as Biden quietly marked his 80th birthday on Nov. 13, the basic Democratic dilemma remained: Will it be best for the party — and the country — to renominate the nation’s oldest president, even if the alternative is chaos?
From the commentary: We have become hyphenated Americans with too many clinging to their native land in language and culture. No nation can be sustained in its character without controlling who is allowed to enter. Other nations have far more restrictive immigration laws and paths to citizenship than ours.
From the commentary: The question becomes: How much further can we keep expanding the number of domestic birds that are grown and slaughtered? How much longer can this vicious cycle continue before it explodes?

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., — who suggests that the FBI may have planted evidence in Trump's residence — believes that Americans should "defund the corrupt FBI" and hold accountable those who "abuse their positions of power to persecute their political enemies, while ruining our country."

Greene is part opportunist, part capitalist. Online, she is hawking "Defund the FBI" T-shirts.

Some Republicans want to go well beyond defunding.

Anthony Sabatini, a leading primary candidate in Florida's 7th District, also wants to defund the FBI. After the Mar-a-Lago search, he tweeted that Florida should "sever all ties with DOJ immediately" and arrest FBI agents on sight.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans who once raised money by attacking calls to defund the police are out raising money again — this time by demanding that we defund the FBI.

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Face it, Congress is one giant telethon. Lawmakers will sing any song you like if it gets you to call "1-800-GULLIBLE" and donate money.

Even so, this is not what one would expect to hear from a party that brands itself as a champion of the "rule of law."

Apparently, former Vice President Mike Pence has heard enough.

"The Republican Party is the party of law and order," Pence said this week in New Hampshire. " Our party stands with the men and women who stand on the thin blue line at the federal and state and local level, and these attacks on the FBI must stop. Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police."

Good on Pence. Honesty and integrity are tough to find in politics.

Don't look at the GOP. The rhetorical somersaults by Republicans appear to have sparked threats against FBI agents, and an attack on the FBI field office in Cincinnati.

And so, it was no surprise when the Department of Homeland Security last week issued a special bulletin warning that extreme right-wingers may be planning to detonate a dirty bomb outside FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

We need a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to threats against the lives of individuals in law enforcement, and it should matter not one bit which side of the political aisle the threats are coming from.

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This commentary is Ruben Navarrette's opinion. He can be reached at ruben@wctrib.com.
© 2022, The Washington Post Writers Group

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