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The biggest difference between the speech Joni Ernst delivered and President Obama’s SOTU speech, other than the fact that Ernst’s speech dealt with reality and President Obama’s speech didn’t, is that Sen. Ernst said that Republicans will listen to the American people:

Tonight though, rather than respond to a speech, I’d like to talk about your priorities. I’d like to have a conversation about the new Republican Congress you just elected, and how we plan to make Washington focus on your concerns again.

We heard the message you sent in November — loud and clear. And now we’re getting to work to change the direction Washington has been taking our country.

The new Republican Congress also understands how difficult these past six years have been. For many of us, the sting of the economy and the frustration with Washington’s dysfunction, weren’t things we had to read about. We felt them every day.

President Obama’s speech was different in that he couldn’t admit to the truth:

Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis.

The economy is doing better than the first 6 years of the Obama economy, mostly despite President Obama’s best efforts to hurt the economy. We’re benefitting from the private- and state-lands fracking boom. The Bakken Boom happened despite President Obama’s attempts to prevent it. It didn’t happen because President Obama’s policies encouraged it. That isn’t speculation. That’s indisputable fact based on statistics from the Obama administration’s Energy Information Administration.

During last night’s SOTU address, President Obama pretended that al-Qa’ida didn’t exist, that the economy is booming and that the 2014 elections didn’t happen. The bad news for President Obama and the Democratic Party is that al-Qa’ida is gaining strength, the economy is doing so-so and he experienced another butt-kicking in the 2014 midterms.

Brian Beutler wrote this article after last night’s speech. Apparently, he suffers from the same mental disorder President Obama suffers from:

If Democrats controlled Congress, Congress wouldn’t have treated Obama’s address like a dead letter and Obama might have tailored it more narrowly, careful not to ask for more than Congress could plausibly deliver.

BULLETIN FOR BRIAN BEUTLER: The reason Democrats don’t control Congress is because the American people rejected President Obama’s agenda. The American people saw the agenda. The American people saw President Obama’s policies fail. In 2014, they said ‘I’ve had it’ and threw Democrats out.

The verdict from the American people was that they’d had enough of President Obama’s failed policies.

Joni Ernst didn’t offer a lengthy list of Republican solutions. Instead, she said something more important. She told the American people that Republicans were listening to the American people. Then she told them that Republicans would act on the things that the American people’s priorities.

That’s why Joni Ernst’s speech was consequential over the long term and why President Obama’s speech will be forgotten before the Super Bowl is played.

If it hadn’t been captured on video, I’d never believe that Rachel Maddow’s guest had talked about President Obama’s “rose-colored glasses.” Here’s that video:

The person Ms. Maddow was interviewing wasn’t Ted Cruz or Rand Paul. She interviewed Richard Engel, NBC’s “chief foreign affairs correspondent.” Here’s what Engel said:

“It seems that the rose-colored glasses through which [President Obama] was viewing the foreign policy were so rose-colored that they don’t even reflect the world that we’re living in,” Engel said during MSNBC’s post-speech coverage. He pointed to recent events in Paris, Iraq, and Syria as signs of the Islamic State and other terror groups’ growing presence worldwide.

“ISIS is doing very well, and the strategy is completely disjointed,” he continued. “To sell that as a success, I think was missing the point, maybe even disingenuous.”

I wrote this article on Examiner, which I titled “America’s first delusional president.” I went a bit further than Engel did but, then again, I wasn’t limited to 85 seconds to get my thoughts in.

In his SOTU speech, President Obama actually said that “Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material.” Any speech that includes that line should be nominated for ‘the speech most likely written by someone wearing rose-colored glasses.’ Unfortunately, President Obama didn’t learn the first rule of holes, which is “if you’re in a hole, stop digging.” Later, President Obama added this whopper:

We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small?—?by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin’s aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.

Putin isn’t isolated. He took control of the Crimean Peninsula, which was a major part of the Ukraine. Now, Putin is threatening Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, aka the Baltic States. What’s worse is that President Obama sent the Ukrainian government meals ready to eat, aka MREs, when they asked for military weapons after Russia invaded eastern Ukraine.

It’s time that President Obama removed the rose-colored glasses, listened to people who actually know what they’re talking about (as opposed to listening to people like Hillary and John Kerry) and started pushing back against Putin, ISIL and Core al-Qa’ida.

We can’t afford a delusional president.

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Juan Williams’ column is filled with faulty premises. Here’s the first of Williams’ faulty premises:

Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) strategy for defeating Democrats in the final two years of the Obama administration is clear: divide and conquer.

There’s no doubt that Democrats are divided over Keystone. What Williams didn’t detect is that the people are incredibly united on the issue. Almost 70% of registered voters support building the Keystone XL Pipeline. A pathetic 25% of registered voters oppose building it.

If Democrats want to listen to the environmental activist wing of the Democratic Party, that’s their right. If Democrats want to ignore the will of the American people, that’s their option, too. Just don’t try telling me that that’s divide and conquer. That’s giving people the option between doing the right thing and playing partisan politics.

Now he is testing Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) ability as minority leader to hold Senate Democrats together in opposition to a Republican agenda favoring the pipeline, halting immigration reform, lowering corporate taxes, and seeking to destroy Obamacare.

If significant numbers of Senate Democrats are willing to join with Republicans to force presidential vetoes, McConnell wins. He gains the power to paint himself as the good guy working across political lines. And he will smear the remaining Democrats as members of an out-of-the-mainstream party in the grips of leftist ideologues — Obama, Reid, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and possibly Hillary Clinton.

Sen. McConnell’s agenda this year consists of passing lots of things that 70+ percent of the American people support. Pundits call that picking off the low-hanging fruit. It’s the stuff that President Obama and Sen. Reid ignored the past 4 years.

It isn’t surprising that Republicans have a different agenda than President Obama and Sen. Reid. President Obama and Sen. Reid frequently thwarted the will of the American people. They weren’t just characterized as out-of-the-mainstream ideologues. It’s that President Obama and Sen. Reid have been out-of-the-mainstream ideologues.

In 2010, the American people spoke with a clear voice that they didn’t like President Obama’s and Sen. Reid’s agenda. This past November, they spoke with an even clearer voice. They rejected President Obama’s and Sen. Reid’s agenda.

Rather than listen to the American people, President Obama said that he isn’t interested in the American people’s agenda. President Obama and the Democrats have forcefully said that they’re interested only in their agenda.

Hooray for Sen. McConnell for putting the Democrats’ feet to the fire. It’s time to find out if they’re aligning with the American people or with the Democrats’ special interest allies.

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After reading this part of this article, it’s clear that Mitt Romney shouldn’t be the GOP presidential nominee:

He said Mr. Obama and Clinton would have America “walk back from red lines…lead from behind…[carry] a small stick.” He ticked through the world’s hotspots: Libya, Iraq, Ukraine, Iran. “Terrorists are not on the run,” he said. In a “post-Obama era,” he argued, the next president will need to use economic and diplomatic strength to shape events around the world and “make the world safer for freedom.”

Mitt’s right that President Obama’s red lines are seen by President Putin as being more of a rose color than red. Mitt’s wrong that diplomacy is what’s needed to shape world events, especially with terrorists and Putin.

What’s needed with President Putin is a combination of supplying Ukraine with arms to defend themselves against President Putin’s expansionism and the US announcing plans that they’re building a natural gas pipeline to Ukraine. Couple those things with hitting reset on Hillary’s reset button. That isn’t done with a cheesy-looking red button. It’s done by putting US missiles in Poland, Romania and throughout the Baltic States. That doesn’t mean going to war with Russia. It simply means confronting Putin’s expansionist initiatives. Better yet, it means acting proactively to prevent Russia from attempting to expand its influence.

President Putin is acting like a superpower. The West’s mistake is in treating Putin’s Russia like they’re a superpower. They aren’t. They never will be. Their economy can’t produce the wealth they need to compete with an economic and military superpower.

This paragraph highlights what went wrong with Mitt’s 2012 campaign:

On the third principle, he said, “We’re an abundant nation. We have the resources” to lift people out of poverty. He didn’t say precisely how he would accomplish that without increasing the size of the government, but he argued that Mr. Obama’s policies have not worked. “They work for a campaign, but they don’t get the job done,” he said. Only conservative principles like a focus on family formation and education, he added, would “end the scourge of poverty in this great land.”

That’s exceptionally timid. Just blast it out there. Capitalism is the only economic system that lifts families out of grinding poverty. Mitt’s biggest personal weakness is that he’s an apologetic capitalist. What he needs is a lesson like this from Milton Friedman:

Republicans need a candidate who a) isn’t bashful about being a capitalist, b) loves explaining the virtues of capitalism vs. the tyranny of collectivism and c) highlights the times where capitalism has improved people’s lives.

In 2015-16, that means highlighting how Obama’s EPA has hurt the coal, the natural gas and oil industries and how private citizens and local governments have made life significantly better for people. Highlight how North Dakota’s state policies have helped the Bakken lead a fossil fuel comeback that led to cheap gas prices. The GOP presidential nominee needs to remind people of the Democrats that said we “can’t drill our way to cheap gas prices.’

Mitt won’t make that case. That’s why he’s wrong.

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For years, Democrats have said that we can’t drill our way to cheap oil prices. That’s part of the Democrats’ catechism. Today’s cheap oil prices are forcing Democrats to eat their words:

In 2012, President Obama called it “a slogan, a gimmick, and a bumper sticker … not a strategy. They were waving their three-point plans for $2-a-gallon gas,” Obama told a laughing audience during an energy speech in Washington. “You remember that? Drill, baby, drill. We were going through all that. And none of it was really going to do anything to solve the problem.”

“‘Drill, baby, drill’ won’t lower gas prices today or tomorrow,” Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., echoed on the floor of Congress in 2012. “But it will fuel our addiction to fossil fuel.”

Here in St. Cloud, the cheapest gas I’ve seen this month is $1.91/gallon. I remember August, 2008 because the know-it-alls in the DFL were criticizing Michele Bachmann for saying that lifting the moratorium on offshore drilling would lead to $2.00/gallon gasoline if the Democrats would just let it happen. FYI- Gas was at $4.11/gallon at the time.

Naturally, the DFL accused Michele of being insane or of not knowing what she was talking about. On Jan. 20, 2009, the day Barack Obama was sworn in as our 44th president, gas was $1.78/gallon. Nobody in the DFL admitted that Michele was right. The conservative blogosphere, however, was ‘admitting’ it frequently.

Then President Obama’s policies took over and gas prices started increasing. Intentionally.

President Obama is now attempting to claim credit for the latest dramatic drop in oil prices. He shouldn’t. Here’s why:

Oil production on federal lands, those under the president’s control, fell 6 percent since 2009, according to the federal Energy Information Administration, while production on private lands increased 61 percent.

Let’s restate that with different wording. Where President Obama can obstruct the flow of oil, production has dropped by 6% since 2009. Where President Obama can’t obstruct oil production because oil is discovered oil on private lands or under state-owned lands, production has grown by 61% since 2009.

A simple tongue-in-cheek observation is in order. If God is going to create oil, He should create it where the government can’t stop production. Here’s a different observation worth appreciating:

America built the Empire State Building, then the world’s tallest office building, in 410 days during the Depression. We built the Pentagon, still the world’s largest low-rise office building, in 16 months while waging a war across two oceans. Keystone has been studied for more than six years. And Obama considers this insufficient?

Actually, there no longer is any reason to think he has ever reasoned about this. He said he would not make up his mind until the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled. It ruled to permit construction, so he promptly vowed to veto authorization of construction.

After reading all of this information, a person might believe that Democrats are stupid when it comes to the rules of supply and demand. They aren’t, though they frequently sound like it. It’s that Democrats are willing to say anything to appease the environment activist wing of the Democratic Party rather than doing the right thing.

This is instructive:

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) objected that if Congress authorizes construction of Keystone this “would take consideration out of the hands of the administration,” and “out of the current administration process.”

The reason why Republicans want this taken “out of the current administration process” is because the process is the fast track to nowhere, which is the Democrats’ goal.

Simply put, it’s time to tell the Democrats to sit down and shut up when it comes to setting energy policy. Thanks to the work done at the state level and by private landowners, the US is on the cusp of regaining its status of being the world’s energy superpower.

It’s instructive that Democrats are attempting to obstruct that progress for the American people.

In 2007-08, then-Sen. Obama campaigned as America’s first post-partisan presidential candidate. In 2004, he said he envisioned a nation not composed of red states and blue states. He envisioned a return to the US becoming the United States. President Obama lied to us. Here’s what we got instead:

Matt Lewis nailed it in this article:

[The Keystone XL Pipeline]project has been mired in controversy and delay for years. But it actually has supporters on both sides of the aisle, including labor unions on the left and free-market conservatives on the right. It’s largely just liberal environmentalists who are pressuring Democrats to hold things up.

That’s more proof that President Obama earned the title of being the “Most-Partisan President” in US history. He’s done more to stand in the way of progress than Jimmy Carter could’ve done in 4 presidential terms.

Here’s the part that Lewis especially got right:

Obama has the ability to rhetorically present both sides of every issue. But he also has a habit of ultimately coming down on the left side. He’s a liberal at heart. But there’s more to it than that. Obama fans are loathe to admit it, but the president can be a divider, and an obstructionist.

It’s foolish to think that President Obama plays things straight down the middle. That isn’t him. He’s a hardline leftist who hates compromise. We’ve seen, in fact, through his delaying the employer mandate and his executive actions on immigration that he’s mostly an autocrat. He isn’t a statesman or a diplomat. He’s a hardline leftist autocrat at heart.

But Obama’s own State Department produced an environmental impact statement long ago green-lighting the project. “The central finding in the draft environmental impact statement,” The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza told NPR’s Terry Gross last year, “was, if you don’t build Keystone, the Canadians will sell this stuff anyway, they’ll build pipelines to their east coast, to their west coast, and they’ll send it to the Gulf of Mexico via rail, and by the way, sending oil by rail releases a whole lot more greenhouse gas emissions than putting it in a pipeline.”

I knew that President Obama’s initial explanation for delaying the Keystone XL Pipeline project was dishonest. Pundits at the time said it was just to get past the 2012 election without upsetting the environmental activist wing of the Democratic Party. I immediately said that he wasn’t worried about upsetting the environmental activists in the Democratic Party. I said that he did it because he’s an environmental activist at heart.

President Obama has given us ample proof that he’s the “Most-Partisan President” in US history. It’s up to us to believe what our eyes have seen.

Bill Jacobson’s op-ed for USA Today highlights in outstanding detail President Obama’s unconstitutional actions. Let’s start with this:

Three areas of the Obama administration going it alone stand out: Immigration, Obamacare and the environment. Immigration is perhaps the most dramatic example.

Legalizing and eventually providing a path to citizenship for the estimated 10-12 million illegal immigrants is a top administration priority. But that priority hit a roadblock in the form of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and soon, Senate. Out of frustration, Obama has taken unilateral action to evade the immigration laws.

Prior to 2014, the administration already had imposed non-repatriation policies at the border, and established the “mini-dream” policy, precluding deportation of people who were brought to the country illegally as minors and met certain other criteria. These policies, however, only applied to a relatively small portion of the total illegal immigrant population. So more was needed, and that “more” would not be coming from Congress.

It’s worth highlighting this first because it’s likely to get dealt with first. With the government funded for the year except the Department of Homeland Security, Republicans can play hardball on this issue. All they have to do is attach a rider to funding DHS prohibiting DHS from spending any money on documents that President Obama promised when he took this unconstitutional action.

That’s the short-term fix. The medium-term fix will come when the courts slap down President Obama’s actions in due time. The long-term fix will happen when a Republican president secures the Tex-Mex border, then signs one-piece-at-a-time immigration reform.

It’s worth noting that it’s Congress, not the president who sets immigration policy:

Congress’s legislative powers are enumerated in Section Eight:

The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defence[note 1] and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

Here’s the heart of Prof. Jacobson’s commentary on the subject:

This immigration end-run creates a class of people who effectively are exempt from the immigration laws, without Congress ever having recognized such an exemption. It is not prosecutorial discretion but a usurpation of legislative power.

The executive branch never is vested with legislative authority. The minute this gets to the courts, they’ll rule against the Obama administration.

Here’s Prof. Jacobson’s excellent closing argument:

The exploitation of environmental regulatory authority not to implement laws, but to create a regulatory equivalent of legislation, is an abuse of executive discretion. At every level, the Obama administration has signaled that going it alone is the only way to get things done.

But that is not how our constitutional system is set up. The Framers understood the threat of an overreaching executive who wants to be king not president.

When President Obama leaves office, the next president will have a lengthy list of things to clean up from President Obama’s assault on the Constitution.

In a startling event, President Obama said that the US had eliminated Afghanistan as a source of terrorism:

In addition to his Alice-in-Wonderland declaration, President Obama said that US combat missions have finished. This is additional proof that the fastest way to end a war is to lose it. Regardless of President Obama’s sunny talk, the reality is that the terrorists have adapted. They haven’t given up the mission of creating a worldwide caliphate. They’ve just moved their training and planning bases from Afghanistan to another location.

In the days after 9/11, someone stated publicly that 9/11 was the day that terrorists had declared war on the United States. Rudy Giuliani corrected the person, saying that the terrorists had been at war with us for years, possibly decades, and that 9/11 was just the day that we joined that fight.

Similarly, the terrorists’ threat hasn’t ended just because President Obama held a press conference saying that the terrorists no longer posed a threat. The terrorists have a say in the matter, too. In fact, they’ll have a bigger say in the matter than President Obama will have.

That isn’t meant as disrespectful. It’s just that President Obama leaves office in 2 years. At that point, he won’t play the role of principle decision maker. That said, many of the terrorists will still be around 3 years from now. They’ll still have a say in the matter.

President Obama’s statements are either proof that he’s exceptionally arrogant or they’re proof that he’s buried his head in the sand on this issue. That isn’t good. We need a commander-in-chief who is tuned into reality. We need a commander-in-chief who isn’t afraid to see what he sees.

Right now, we don’t have that type of commander-in-chief.

Dana Milbank’s article highlights the Left’s lack of intellectual gravitas.

Rubio’s emotional, and at times inaccurate, response to the policy change shows why Obama’s move to normalize ties to Cuba after more than half a century is both good policy and good politics. It’s good policy because it jettisons a vestigial policy that has stopped serving a useful purpose, and because it is a gutsy move by Obama that demonstrates strong leadership and will help revive him from lame-duck status. It’s good politics because it will reveal that the Cuban American old guard, whose position Rubio represents, no longer speaks for most Cuban Americans.

It apparently didn’t bother Milbank that President Obama didn’t negotiate a deal with Cuba. Apparently, Milbank likes the thought of giving up leverage without getting anything in exchange.

This wasn’t a negotiation. It was a capitulation. It sold out Cubans at a time when Cuba’s supporters were hurting and getting worse. Venezuela’s, Iran’s and Russia’s economies are tanking thanks to $60/bbl oil. That’s way less than they need to keep their economies afloat. Without Russia’s and Venezuela’s support, Cuba’s dictatorship dies the minute the Castros croak.

This paragraph is laughable:

But Rubio was responding with his gut, which has been seasoned by the unwavering dogma of Cuban exiles. He began his remarks with the phrase “As a descendant of Cuban immigrants and someone who’s been raised in a community of Cuban exiles,” and he observed that “Cuba is close to home for me, both because of my heritage, also because of the community I live in.”

Apparently, Mr. Milbank frowns on people with actual expertise, which explains his fawning over President Obama. President Obama didn’t bring expertise on issues. He just brought a cocky attitude and a certainty that, though he was devoid of expertise, he knew how to right America’s wrongs.

By comparison, Sen. Rubio understands the history and plight of the Cuban people. He’s gained valuable insight while sitting on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to supplement the insight he had before joining the Senate. This, in Milbank’s mind, disqualifies him from speaking intelligently on the subject.

This is the perfect illustration of the Left appreciating trash-talking narcissists more than they appreciate people with topical expertise. It’s the perfect illustration of the Left’s foolish priorities.

Marco Rubio’s op-ed utterly demolishes President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba. In his op-ed, Sen. Rubio correctly states that President Obama’s decision will have long-lasting, negative consequences — for us and the oppressed Cuban people:

The opportunity for Cuba to normalize relations with the U.S. has always been there, but the Castro regime has never been interested in changing its ways. Now, thanks to President Obama’s concessions, the regime in Cuba won’t have to change.

The entire policy shift is based on the illusion—in fact, on the lie—that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people. Cuba already enjoys access to commerce, money and goods from other nations, and yet the Cuban people are still not free. They are not free because the regime—just as it does with every aspect of life—manipulates and controls to its own advantage all currency that flows into the island. More economic engagement with the U.S. means that the regime’s grip on power will be strengthened for decades to come—dashing the Cuban people’s hopes for freedom and democracy.

Cuba’s economy has been circling the drain for 2-3 years. Venezuela and Russia, its 2 biggest supporters, have hit tough times, too, thanks to rapidly dropping oil prices. At exactly the time when Cuba is collapsing from within, President Obama threw them a lifeline with this initiative.

Already, a Minnesota representative is planning a trip to Cuba:

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A Minnesota congressman who has long advocated for changes to the United States’ Cuba policy says a decision to normalize relations with the island country is a “monumental step” in the right direction. Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan praised Wednesday’s announcement that the U.S. would re-establish diplomatic ties to Cuba. Nolan traveled to Cuba in 1977 during his first stint in Congress and was involved in a past deal to release U.S. prisoners held there.

Nolan says he hopes to travel to Cuba next year to meet with officials there.

Another Democratic member of the Minnesota delegation, Betty McCollum, described the announcement as “a new beginning.” She says she would continue working to end a U.S. trade embargo with Cuba. McCollum spent time in Cuba last summer.

Apparently, Nolan and McCollum, like President Obama, are willing to ignore Cuba’s disgusting human rights abuses. Apparently, they haven’t thought things through nor have they put a high priority on human rights. Sen. Rubio has:

While my personal ties to Cuba and its people are well known, this is not just a personal issue. American foreign policy affects every aspect of American life, and our people cannot realize their full promise if the world becomes more dangerous because America retreats from its role in the world. Moreover, the Cuban people have the same rights that God bestowed on every other man, woman and child that has ever lived. All of those who are oppressed around the world look to America to stand up for their rights and to raise its voice when tyrants like the Castros are trying to crush their spirits.

It’s amazing that the ‘party of the little guy’ supports the dictators who trample the little guys for criticizing the Castros’ oppressive dictatorship. What isn’t surprising, though, is that Rick Nolan is ignoring the Castros’ reign of terror. He’s always been soft on human rights and friendly towards oppressive dictators.

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