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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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Later today, the Senate Intelligence Committee will release a report on terrorist interrogations. It’s already being called the “Torture Report.” Retired CIA officer Jose Rodriguez wrote this op-ed to expose Dianne Feinstein’s and Nancy Pelosi’s dishonesty. Let’s start with this:

According to news accounts of the report, Feinstein and her supporters will say that the CIA violated American principles and hid the ugly truth from Congress, the White House and the public. When the report comes out, I expect that few of the critics who will echo Feinstein’s charges will have read it and far fewer will read or understand the minority response and the CIA’s rebuttal.

The interrogation program was authorized by the highest levels of the U.S. government, judged legal by the Justice Department and proved effective by any reasonable standard. The leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and of both parties in Congress were briefed on the program more than 40 times between 2002 and 2009. But Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tried to deny that she was told in 2002 that detainees had been waterboarded. That is simply not true. I was among those who briefed her.

Sen. Feinstein and Rep. Pelosi should be tarred and feathered for their dishonesty. That Ms. Pelosi would say that she hadn’t been briefed by Mr. Rodriguez is proof of Ms. Pelosi’s utter dishonesty. She should be criticized mercilessly for being a liar. After that, Democrats should be tarred and feathered for deserting a program that saved American lives for purely partisan reasons.

Initially, Democrats insisted that the CIA do all that it could to prevent another terrorist attack:

In one ear they hear the public, the media and members of Congress raising alarms about the terrorist threat from the Islamic State: Do something! Do it now! Why didn’t you do something sooner?

The Democrats’ dishonesty is easily explained. In the days after 9/11, Democrats put the needs of the nation first. By 2006, the Democrats noticed how animated the anti-war left had become. Seeking to capitalize on the anti-war left’s enthusiasm, Democrats like Sen. Feinstein, Ms. Pelosi and candidates like Amy Klobuchar ran as anti-war lefties. The same anti-war lefties then powered Barack Obama’s presidential election victory in 2008.

Members of Congress and the administration were nearly unanimous in their desire that the CIA do all that it could to debilitate and destroy al-Qaeda. The CIA got the necessary approvals to do so and kept Congress briefed throughout.

Democrats say that waterboarding violates American principles. That’s BS. Since when does saving hundreds of American lives violate American principles? I’d love seeing a Democrat explain how saving American lives violates American principles, especially since the Constitution requires the president to protect and defend the United States.

This morning’s op-ed isn’t Mr. Rodriguez’s first op-ed. Here’s what he wrote in his April, 2014 op-ed:

On Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify and release hundreds of pages of its report on U.S. terrorist interrogation practices. Certain senators have proclaimed how devastating the findings are, saying the CIA’s program was unproductive, badly managed and misleadingly sold. Unlike the committee’s staff, I don’t have to examine the program through a rearview mirror. I was responsible for administering it, and I know that it produced critical intelligence that helped decimate al-Qaeda and save American lives.

Here’s Mr. Rodriguez’s opinion of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report:

The committee’s staff members started with a conclusion in 2009 and have chased supportive evidence ever since. They never spoke to me or other top CIA leaders involved in the program, or let us see the report.

The thought that this report would be praised by Democrats as the definitive report on the CIA’s interrogation techniques is insulting to thoughtful, honest people. The Feinstein Report is a political hatchet job. It isn’t a serious review of the CIA’s interrogation techniques.

If a CIA expert said that EITs “saved American lives”, I’ll trust him, not partisan Democrat hacks like Sen. Feinstein or Ms. Pelosi.

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This week’s Onions & Orchids editorial contains a complaint that a well-educated fifth-grader would be ashamed to write:

Onions: I keep hearing the words, that the president poisoned the well. You can’t poison a well if there is no water. The president has waited 515 days for the House Republicans to act and pass the bill. All this time people have been deported and families broken up. Their American children are costing millions to be put in foster care. I really wish they would grow up and act like mature members and do good and stop voting “No” or not voting at all. They could trump the president and pass the immigration bill. That excuse of not trusting Obama, just does not wash. The President has put 30,000 agents on the border, but if there is a will they will find a way — nothing can be 100 percent. They can enter our country by planes, boats or through the wilderness area we share with Canada. They are not hurting the president. They are hurting real people and that is not how to govern.

First, it’s pure fallacy to say that “people have been deported and families broken up” during the Obama administration. Most of the so-called deportations aren’t deportations. Prior to the Obama administration, people apprehended while crossing the border were classified as people apprehended at the border. From the time that they took office, President Obama’s DHS has classified people caught at the border as deportations.

Had the Bush administration counted people caught at the border as deportations, the Obama administration’s deportations would be miniscule by comparison.

Second, I don’t care if President Obama has waited 515 days for the House of Representatives to pass the Senate immigration bill or if he’s waited 1,515 days, the Constitution doesn’t give him the authority to write new law. And yes, President Obama wrote new law because, in addition to telling DHS not to deport illegal immigrants, he gave them temporary legal status. Only Congress can write that provision. President Obama’s only responsibility in that setting is to sign the law that Congress passed.

Third, the reader says that not trusting President Obama isn’t an excuse for not passing the bill. On November 4, the American people said the opposite. With a booming voice, they said that they wanted Congress to not pass an immigration bill until President Obama could be trusted.

Finally, this explosion of illegal aliens is hurting blue collar workers nationwide. With an overabundance of low-skill workers, companies don’t have an incentive to hire legal immigrants and people born in the United States. They can pay cheap wages to illegal aliens. These companies get the additional ‘bonus’ of not paying for health insurance benefits.

President Obama is a lame duck president who wants to stay relevant. The nation is turning the page. It’s time to start fixing the things President Obama broke.

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After watching this video, it’s clear that Jeb Bush doesn’t have a clue about conservatism:

This post shows that Paige Lavender, a reporter/commentator for Huffington Post, is utterly clueless. Before we get into Jeb Bush’s statements, here’s what Ms. Lavender said:

PAIGE LAVENDER: We’ve seen in the last 2 election cycles that the Republican primary tends to favor the more conservative candidate.

In 2008, there weren’t any conservatives in the race. Of the liberals, John McCain was the most liberal. He got the nomination. In 2012, the GOP candidates were marginally more conservative. Mitt Romney wasn’t as liberal as McCain but he wasn’t a conservative, either. He was simply the least liberal of the liberals running.

The good news is that Republicans will have a handful of conservatives to pick from in 2016, starting with Scott Walker, then adding John Kasich and possibly Mike Pence. GOP activists won’t have to hold their noses when supporting one of these candidates. Conservatives will be able to enthusiastically support one of these three candidates.

The last 20 seconds of this video will hurt Gov. Bush:

Here’s what Gov. Bush said:

GOV. BUSH: I kinda know how a Republican can win, whether it’s me or somebody else and it has to be much more uplifting, much more positive, much more willing to, you know, to be practical now in the Washington world, to be willing to lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles.

Jeb Bush, like Mike Huckabee before him, doesn’t have a clue about conservatism. True conservatism has a healthy libertarian streak to it, mixed with a healthy skepticism of Washington, DC-run programs. We prefer smallish programs administered at the local level because that’s the best way to ensure accountability. Gov. Bush enthusiastically supports Common Core, which is federalizing education curriculum and standardizing tests nationwide. It’s even telling school boards which text books fit with Common Core’s curriculum.

Conservatism is about giving people lots of positive options, whether we’re talking about families’ health care decisions or telling parents that they can send their children to schools that aren’t failing students.

For the last 6-8 years, Republicans had to play defense because Democrats controlled the agenda. The next Republican president will work with GOP majorities in the House and Senate. That means they’ll be setting the agenda. Their first assignment must be to fix the messes created by President Obama, Sen. Reid and Nancy Pelosi. That means finally getting the fed to shut off the QE2 spigot. That’ll require the GOP to starting over with health care reform. This time, it’s imperative to get it right. Getting America’s economy requires siding with construction unions while ignoring environmental activists on pipeline projects.

There’s no shortage of things that need fixing. When a Republican governor is elected to become the 45th president of the United States, he’ll have lots of things to fix or to get started on. Hopefully, the 45th president won’t be Jeb Bush.

This article highlights why Mary Landrieu’s political career is all but officially over:

In the last six years, Landrieu lost ground to Republicans in every Louisiana parish. In 2008, she defeated Republican John Kennedy by 121,111 votes statewide. This time, Cassidy and third-place finisher Rob Maness, a tea-party favorite who has since endorsed the congressman, combined to lead Landrieu by 186,207 votes, a net swing of 307,318.

Get out the marmalade. Sen. Landrieu is toast. Seriously, I’d be surprised if this election isn’t called within half an hour of the polls closing. This isn’t a nailbiter. It’s a blowout.

President Barack Obama may not be on Louisiana’s Senate runoff ballot, but it’s clear his widespread unpopularity in the state stands as Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s biggest hurdle to a fourth term.

There’s no question that President Obama has buried a ton of Democrats this cycle. Still, it isn’t fair to say it’s all his fault. If Mary Landrieu or Mark Pryor or Mark Udall or Mark Begich had shown a spine in voting against Obamacare and the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda, they might’ve had a better shot at winning. When they didn’t stand up for the voters, the voters punished them.

President Obama’s agenda has set the Democratic Party back mightily. When President Obama was sworn in, there were 257 Democrats in the House and 60 Democrats in the Senate. When this congress is sworn into office, there will be 186 Democrats in the House, 46 in the Senate.

President Obama was the pied piper but Senate Democrats followed his tune into this electoral grave.

This Our View editorial in the St. Cloud Times proves how intellectually dishonest the Times’ editorial page is. Here’s exhibit A:

Even if the bill had passed, President Obama doesn’t support the bill. He prefers to have the State Department work through the approval process for the project.

It isn’t that President Obama prefers having “the State Department work through the approval process.” It’s that he’s using the State Department to delay the project because he’s a true believer in climate change. This isn’t about process. It’s about President Obama’s ideology.

Further, President Obama has consistently and repeatedly sided with environmental activists rather than occasionally siding with construction unions. Thus far, President Obama hasn’t shown an interest in helping farmers or siding with the unions.

That isn’t the only spin in the Times’ editorial. Here’s another part:

Closer to home, Gov. Mark Dayton said he thinks the best way to untangle the glut of oil trains on Minnesota rail lines is to transport more oil by pipeline. The large increase in the number of trains carrying oil from North Dakota to Midwest refineries has caused delays for grain, propane and coal shipments by rail.

Gov. Dayton is as enthusiastic about building pipelines as President Obama. Gov. Dayton’s appointees to the Public Utilities Commission voted to delay the building of the Sandpiper Pipeline by asking “for a review of six alternative routes proposed by opponents of the project.”

The net effect of that is to effectively delay construction of the Sandpiper Pipeline project until after he leaves office. It’s possible the Sandpiper Pipeline will eventually get built but it isn’t likely to happen with Gov. Dayton’s time in office.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel resigned this morning:

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will resign on Monday after just under two years on the job. According to a report by Helene Cooper at The New York Times, President Obama has decided to replace Hagel after coming to the conclusion over the last several weeks that the current Defense chief was not the right person to lead the fight against ISIS.

According to the article, there was an ongoing fight between Hagel and some of President Obama’s staff:

Others reportedly questioned his overall leadership of the department, saying he “struggled to inspire confidence” and “had problems articulating his thoughts, or administration policy, in an effective manner.” Sources close to Hagel, however, blame those articulation problems on the White House’s heavy-handed message control. They also told Bloomberg News that the relationship with the White House had soured so much that Hagel no longer spoke in meetings because “White House aides with less experience in military affairs than the wounded Vietnam War veteran often ignored what he said.”

Imagine that. This administration took a dim view of senior administration officials speaking without reciting the administration’s talking points. Who could’ve seen that?

That’s what happens when the administration doesn’t trust its senior officials. That’s what happens when the top figure in the administration, President Obama, is a paranoid, narcissistic control freak. That being said, Hagel was a terrible defense secretary. His first day of testimony at his confirmation hearings were the worst performance I’ve ever seen in a confirmation hearing. Here’s what got Hagel in trouble at his confirmation hearing:

It was the troop surge in Iraq that became a flashpoint between McCain and Hagel during Thursday’s hearing. McCain repeatedly tried to get Hagel to answer whether he was “right or wrong” when he once called the troop surge a “dangerous foreign policy blunder.”

“I’m not going to give you a yes or no; I think it’s far more complicated than that…I’ll defer that judgment to history,” Hagel said, adding that he was referring to both the overall Iraq war, as well as the surge, in that comment

McCain fired back: “I think history has already made a judgment about the surge, sir, and you’re on the wrong side of it.”

Hagel shouldn’t have been confirmed. It’s only fair that his time at the Pentagon is brief.

Talking Points Memo’s article shows that they’re either hallucinating or they’re thinking words don’t have meanings. They’re talking about possibilities about how to skirt the Supreme Court’s ruling should they rule against the administration:

The specter of the Supreme Court gutting Obamacare and putting health coverage for millions of people at risk is back in a very real way, with the justices taking up the lawsuit that would prohibit tax subsidies from being given to people in the 36 states that use the federal health exchange, HealthCare.gov.

But while the White House has been publicly mum about how it would address that worst-case scenario, policy experts have told TPM that there could be ways for the Obama administration to get around such a ruling.

The specifics would need to be worked out, but the crux is this: States could continue to use HealthCare.gov as their technical backdrop, but they would be considered state-based exchanges. That would allow the law’s tax subsidies to keep flowing, even if the Supreme Court were to invalidate them on the federal exchange, as the lawsuit’s plaintiffs argue it should.

That might work with the Nevada and Oregon exchanges but it won’t fly with the 36 states that refuse to create a state-run exchange. Apparently, that didn’t dawn on these geniuses until later in the article:

“One such scenario would be for HHS to effectively deem all of the exchanges to be state-based, but continue operating them through HealthCare.gov,” Caroline Pearson, vice president at Avalere Health, an independent consulting firm, told TPM earlier this year. On Thursday, she added that the legal grounds for such a move would be “uncertain,” however.

Every bill that’s signed into law, especially lengthy, complex statutes like the ACA, contain a list of definitions specific to that legislation. Section 1311 of the ACA establishes how state-run exchanges are created. This part is vital:

SEC. 1311. AFFORDABLE CHOICES OF HEALTH BENEFIT PLANS.
(a) ASSISTANCE TO STATES TO ESTABLISH AMERICAN HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGES.—
(1) PLANNING AND ESTABLISHMENT GRANTS.—There shall be appropriated to the Secretary, out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, an amount necessary to enable the Secretary to make awards, not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, to States in the amount specified in paragraph (2) for the uses described in paragraph (3).
(2) AMOUNT SPECIFIED.—For each fiscal year, the Secretary shall determine the total amount that the Secretary will make available to each State for grants under this subsection.
(3) USE OF FUNDS.—A State shall use amounts awarded under this subsection for activities (including planning activities) related to establishing an American Health Benefit Exchange, as described in subsection (b).

This is vital in the context of HHS “effectively deem[ing] all of the exchanges to be state-based.” Section 1311, paragraph (3) specifically talks about the grants from HHS to each of the states. The states must use that money to create their exchanges. Since 36 states didn’t accept grants from HHS under Section 1311, paragraph (3), that means the exchange is federally run.

Technically, Oregon and Nevada took HHS grant money. Therefore, they’re technically classified as state-run exchanges. Wyoming and Wisconsin, by contrast, didn’t accept 1311 grants from HHS. Therefore, those states’ exchanges aren’t state-run exchanges.

Simply put, that means any attempt by the Democrats to change the clearly-written definitions in the ACA will likely be quickly rejected by the Supreme Court. It’s further proof that Democrats put their ideology ahead of doing what’s right for the nation.

Last night on the Kelly File, Megyn Kelly and Charles Krauthammer had a great discussion on President Obama’s imminent executive order that would prevent authorities from deporting Hispanics fitting a certain description. First, here’s the video of the interview:

Here’s the key part of the interview:

“Look, I believe it is an impeachable offense,” Krauthammer told Kelly. “If the circumstances were different, if we were at the beginning of a presidency, if we hadn’t had years when the Congress has been supine and unresponsive at other grabs of their authority by the executive–like Obama unilaterally changing Obamacare after it was passed about 30 times with no response from the Congress–the same as Obama essentially re-writing some of the drug laws.

“This idea of prosecutorial discretion is really a travesty. It is intended for extreme cases. For a case where you want to show mercy for an individual or two where it’s an unusual incident, unusual circumstances and you say, okay, we’re going to give this person a pass. It was never intended to abolish a whole class of people subject to a law and to essentially abolish whole sections of a law. And that’s exactly what’s happening here.”

When statutes are drafted, the legislative language often has descriptions of who’s subject to specific parts of the law. That’s especially true with income tax codes, where the language must include a description of who pays what tax rate. If they didn’t include that description, the legislation wouldn’t apply to anyone or it would apply to everyone.

The only constitutionally-sanctioned remedy for what President Obama wants to do is to work with Congress to change the United States’ immigration statutes. Therein lies the problem. President Obama doesn’t play well with others. He doesn’t even get along with Harry Reid, much less with Mitch McConnell or John Boehner.

At the end of the interview, this interesting exchange took place:

MEGYN KELLY: What would happen, Charles, in this country if we had a Republican president who said, ‘you know what? I’m gonna use my prosecutorial discretion to just not go after those who harass women going into abortion clinics. I realize that there are laws on the books that say we should go after them but I just see them as worthy of my mercy and I tried to push a bill through Congress but those darn Democrats wouldn’t allow it. So with the stroke of my pen, I’m now gonna say we’re just not going to prioritize those prosecutions…’ This may be a precedent that the left might not want to set
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Well, the example I like to use, let’s say you get a Republican president who says ‘I’ve tried to get the abolition of the capital gains tax because it’s hurting our economy but the congress simply won’t cooperate and I will not wait so I have issued an executive order that the IRS will no longer collect capital gains taxes or pursue anyone who doesn’t pay them.’ Everyone would say that this is obviously a breech of the Constitution and it would be an impeachable offense.

They’re both right. There’s no question whether the left is willing to transfer large parts of the legislative branch’s authority to the executive branch. They did that with the ACA and with Dodd-Frank. There’s no question, either, about whether President Obama sees himself as an autocrat. Finally, there’s no question that these Democrats are willing to ignore their responsibility to defend their branch of government against intrusion by the other branches of government.

The only positive that’ll come from this is that President Obama’s executive order is politically stupid. If he signs that executive order, Democrats will be criticized as being anti-law enforcement and pro-chaos. Then they’ll be tarred and feathered for looking the other way when laws were being broken just because the man who broke the laws was from their political party.

This isn’t a solution to a real problem but it is a political headache for Democrats.

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