Thursday, February 13, 2014

Everything begins with leadership. That's why Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam took out the ax yesterday. He wants to win. He wasn't winning. He wasn't going to win. So he changed up the leadership.

That's what every failing franchise and business in America usually does, rather than re-committing to failure. They make tough choices and changes. Good To Great and all that jazz. Cliched, yes, but true. "If everybody says you're drunk, you'd better sit down," says the old Irish saying. Everybody says the House GOP is staggering. It had better sit down and at least think about what victory in November would mean if the same chronic dysfunction in the House GOP Caucus continues.

The leadership team-in-waiting in the Senate is secure and very capable. Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, Texas' John Cornyn, and South Dakota's John Thune are all smart, principled, experienced and crucially, strategic thinkers. If the country is so disgusted with Obamacare and the feckless president it is named for as to give McConnell a couple of extra seats behind the six he needs for a simple majority, McConnell and the Senate team will be a constructive partner with whomever is running the GOP House.

That's the big problem though. No one seems capable of running the House GOP caucus. It is leaderless, rudderless and even when partnered with a GOP Senate majority, almost guaranteed to be as dysfunctional then as it is now.

Don't blame the rank-and-file members, and don't fall in with Representative Peter King and start bashing everyone with whom you disagree in personal terms. The problem is that the Speaker, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy are simply terrible leaders even though they are prodigious fundraisers and good friends to the vast majority of their caucus. Nice guys, everyone of them. Terrific in fact. And we know what happens to nice guys when they go up against Democrats.

Imagine next year with a Senate Majority Leader McConnell and a House Speaker Boehner/Cantor.

What would be the agenda?

McConnell could and I hope does immediately bring an end to all judicial confirmation proceedings --at every level-- for the next two years as a means to put a big period at the end of a tortured quarter-century of judicial confirmation nightmares which began with the nomination of Judge Bork in 1987.

The low point came with Harry Reid's trashing of 200 years of Senate practice by ending the power of the minority last year. A two-year time-out during which the Senate can agree on rules that will apply post-2016 is an agenda item that the Senate GOP could do on its own. The Senate is also its own master on all other nominations, and the big dog on foreign policy disputes with the president.

The Senate and the House could also continue to hold oversight hearings, though the record of the House in this regard is not encouraging. Perhaps only one hearing made a dent in public opinion since this session began more than a year ago --the Benghazi hearing chaired by Darrell Issa and featuring Mr. Gregory Hicks, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. One of the many failures of the House leadership since November, 2010 has been its inability to figure out how to harness oversight authority into compelling narrative that shapes new and old media alike and transforms public opinion in the process.

Even if the House GOP leadership suddenly got a clue on how to actually move public opinion via hearings, could it also move any kind of legislation along a path of an agreed-upon strategy with the new GOP Senate majority? That grand strategy could either be to move incremental reforms in various areas --like the Clinton welfare reform compromise of mid-1996, perhaps in the area of immigration-- or to negotiate a "grand compromise" that might actually work out long term entitlement and tax reform between a legacy-eager president, incoming Ways and Means Chair Paul Ryan and whomever would be chairing the Senate Finance Committee. (It is currently Orrin Hatch but I don't know if he keeps the seat in 2015.)

One strategy would be complete confrontation, but not a wise one. Those hungry for brinksmanship should know now that shutdowns in 2015 will be what Hillary is hoping for, and while the drama of a shutdown could much easier to manage with a majority of both houses, still the president holds an institutional upper-hand in such show-downs, and all eyes will be on 2016 as soon as the polls close this November. (For the latest on what the would-be presidents are up to, see Jen Rubin's column today.)

The point is, the Congressional GOP will need a strategy for 2015-2016, and they will need it long before the November post-election organizing meetings. Yes, new members will be arriving in scores due to retirements and upsets, and no one can pledge the next Congress to an agenda drafted by this one.

But the House GOP and the key GOP Senators need to begin now to plan the agenda for next year, or fiascos like yesterday's will be the rule and not the exception. Framed and floated policy proposals need to be provided to the public not just to encourage turnout but also to avoid huge missteps like the cut to the COLA of the career military. (Example: Far too many Manhattan-Beltway big thinkers want to get rid of the mortgage interest tax deduction and the charitable contribution tax deduction, underpinnings of the tax returns of their core supporters on Main Street. Terrible ideas, both of them, but a cloistered Congressional Party will embrace them and be surprised when their supporters back home scream at them just as they did on the military COLA. Many bad ideas could be avoided by listening. Many good ideas could be similarly identified. The ossification of the Congressional imagination is pretty far advanced even with people like Arthur Brooks, Bill Kristol, Yuval Levin and Pete Wehner roaming the halls and working the phones on policy issues. The House GOP needs to force feed input into its caucus.)

The best ideas even when combined with a solid majority won't matter a bit unless the House gets leadership from its top down. Most people expect the Speaker to give up the gavel willingly in November or to have it taken from him in the sort of fight that will cripple the new session before it begins. So hope for a new Speaker with a vision. That could be Eric Cantor, or Jeb Hensarling or Tom Price, but whomever it turns out to be, they need to be ready to lay out in detail what the next 15 months would look like and to act not as this Congress has --episodically and from lurch to lurch-- but in accordance with a plan.

What a concept: A plan, articulated early and in public, debated, amended and bought into by a majority of the majority in private, and vigorously pursued on every platform using every tool of persuasion. That's what the GOP needs, and what it very much lacks right now.

A Cantor-Cronyn Committee to explore post-November plans would be a very good thing to have set up right now to start thinking between the #2's staffs on what 2015 might look like. Every successful big turnaround takes planning, not an avalanche of ad hoc improvisations. The time to start is now.

Indeed, the time to select the next speaker is already on us and if it is going to be Eric Cantor, he should step up with a plan to get to a plan as opposed to another six months of drifting along and hoping the collapse of Obamacare may save the GOP. It might in November, but the undoing would be rapid and complete if a new majority acted next year as the current House majority did this week.

Speaker Boehner would help the GOP make this transition to coherence by announcing his plans for next year now. That would be leadership.
Did I Move?  
Ann Coulter / Townhall Columnist
With all the smirking on the left about their electoral victories, it's important to remember that Democrats haven't won the hearts and minds of the American people. They changed the people. If you pour vinegar into a bottle of wine, the wine didn't turn, you poured vinegar into it. Similarly, liberals changed no minds. They added millions of new liberal voters through immigration.

So why are Republicans like Trey Gowdy, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and John Boehner making fools of themselves in order to spot the Democrats three more touchdowns?

The House Republicans' "Standards for Immigration Reform," for example, contains this fat, honking nonsense: "One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents."

As the kids say: WTF?

That may be a pleasant-sounding sentiment, but it has absolutely nothing to do with our country's history. Not the first thing. Did Republicans really think they could pawn off the idea that our forefathers fought and died at Valley Forge so that illegal aliens wouldn't have to live in the shadows?

Yeah, it was a long shot. We didn't know you guys had read the Constitution. We'll be quiet now.

Apart from the fact that protecting children from the mistakes of their parents has not the slightest connection with the nation's founding, it's a ridiculous concept.

Yes, children suffer when their parents break the law. Also when their parents get divorced, become alcoholics, don't read to them at night, feed them junk food and take them to Justin Bieber concerts. None of that is the child's fault.

But it's not the country's fault either.

If we have to excuse lawbreaking so as not to "punish the children," there's no end to the crimes that have to be forgiven -- insider trading, theft, rape, murder and so on.

How do you think kids feel when their father has to "live in the shadows" because he committed a rape? The kids did nothing wrong, but they have to go to bed every night wondering: Is tomorrow the day Dad is going to be caught?

How do you function like that? And how awful it must be when their dad is sent to prison! How do you think Jack Abramoff's kids felt? What about Martha Stewart's kid?

Why not just forgive the crimes of all perpetrators who have kids? At a minimum, shouldn't we allow criminals to defer their sentences until their kids turn 26 so they can stay on Dad's health insurance? Or at least until their kids have gone to college? Chris Christie can give them in-state tuition!

"It's not the kids' fault" proves too much. People can get away with anything if they're willing to use their children as trump cards to avoid the force of law.

The once-respected Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., compared illegal aliens brought here as kids to children who steal a grape or scream in a restaurant:

"When children wander into neighborhood yards, we don't call that trespassing. When children cry and yell and scream at restaurants or on airplanes, we don't call that a violation of the noise ordinance. When children eat a grape at the grocery store or eat a piece of candy waiting in line before Mom or Dad pays for it, we don't have them arrested for petty larceny."

Yes, but in those cases, both the child and his parents had a right to be where they were -- the yard, restaurant or grocery store -- when the child suddenly behaved like a child. With illegal aliens, the parents are more like gypsies teaching their kids to beg and pick pockets. The parents forced the kids into being lawbreakers.

Similarly, Palestinians use their children to commit acts of terrorism against Israel, so that when Israel responds, the parents can wail, "They're bombing children!"

(I thought only liberals couldn't do analogies.)

Americans are under no moral obligation to admit huge numbers of people who have no particular right to be here just because the Democrats need 30 million new voters.

Why shouldn't Republicans oppose mass immigration on the grounds that immigrants will vote Democratic? The only reason the Democrats want mass immigration is because they know immigrants will vote Democratic. (Also for the cheap nannies and gardeners.)

Immigration is the "single issue" that decides every other issue. If this country were the same demographically today as it was in 1980, Romney would have won a bigger victory in 2012 than Reagan did against Carter. And we wouldn't have to hear about soccer all the time.

We're living in a different country now, and I can't recall moving! Had I wanted to live in Japan, I could have moved there. Had I had wanted to live in Mexico, Pakistan or Chechnya -- I could have moved to those places, too.

(Although maybe not. They all have stricter immigration policies than we do.)

I'm sure they're lovely, but I wanted to live in America. Now I can't. At the current rate of immigration, it won't exist anymore. The Democrats couldn't win elections there, so they changed it.

With the repeal of Obamacare in the balance, I have argued that it's insane for Republicans to waste resources primarying their own guys in 2014. Even the most heinous Republican can usually argue, "Would you really rather have a Democrat in this seat?"

But any Republican who supports mass immigration -- whether with Marco Rubio's amnesty bill, or idiotic arguments about "not punishing the children" -- has forfeited that claim. If the country is going to be ruined anyway, it could not matter less who wins any particular seat on this Titanic.

Afghanistan: Jihadis in army uniforms murder two American troops

  / Townhall Columnist
The continuing presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, serving as a shooting gallery for hostile “allies,” laboring under impossible Rules of Engagement with no vision of what would constitute victory and no desire on the part of their commanders to attain it if they did have one, is nothing less than criminal. Barack Obama and the Army High Command should be tried for the deaths of every one of the soldiers killed in insider jihad attacks.

“Afghans in army uniform kill two American troops,” from Reuters, February 12:
KABUL — Two Afghan men in army uniforms turned their weapons on American forces in east Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing two U.S. troops, officials said.
An Afghan interior ministry official said the shooting took place in Kapisa province, just north of the capital Kabul.
The NATO-led coalition confirmed two foreign troops had been shot dead but did not identify their nationalities. A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said both victims were Americans.
It was the first “insider” attack this year. There were ten such incidents last year, resulting in the deaths of 15 members of the ISAF international security forces, according to a Reuters tally.
The attacks led the NATO-led force to briefly suspend all joint activities, a cornerstone of its mission in Afghanistan.

U.S. drops to 46th in press freedom

  / Jihad Watch

Come NinevehIt’s worse than that, too. Reporters Without Borders didn’t take into account the mainstream media’s voluntary self-censorship and refusal to report on the truth about Islam and jihad, its demonization and smearing of foes of jihad terror, and its cowardly capitulation to Islamic supremacist intimidation and thuggery, adopting what are essentially Sharia blasphemy laws for fear of offending Muslims or provoking a riot.

If the freedom of speech is ever fully extinguished in the United States, as it could be far more easily than most people think, the responsibility will lie to a tremendous degree with those who should have been its foremost guardians: the mainstream media. Allen Drury’s bleak and dystopian 1973 Cold War novel Come Nineveh, Come Tyre envisioned a weak, wishful thinking-driven, fondly Leftist U.S. President, Ted Jason, as given to fantasy-based policymaking as the present incumbent, presiding over the bloodless surrender of the United States to the Soviet Union. The media adores President Jason, cheerleads for him energetically, defames and denigrates his foes relentlessly, and does everything it can to make him look good, right up until the point when a few of them realize that the freedom of speech is gone, and they have outlived their usefulness.

In one scene, the nation’s top TV news anchors, columnists, and newspaper publishers, having turned against the President and his program far too late, are arrested wholesale and committed to St. Elizabeth’s insane asylum in southwest Washington, “on complaint,” scream the headlines, “of Domestic Tranquility Board and Justice Department Special Branch.” The group of once-powerful media giants is herded past the asylum’s gate:
As it passed out of sight and the heavy gate began to close, one last anguished cry, so desperate and filled with pain that it would have moved the observer, had observer there been, came from the lips of [famed columnist] Walter Dobius.
“We did it!” he cried. “We did it! We d–”
But who he meant by “we,” and what it was that he thought “we” had done, was never to be divulged, for at that point he was summarily, and no doubt roughly, choked off. The gates clanged shut and no further sound escaped the walls of St. Elizabeth’s.
When the freedom of speech is finally gone in the United States, will Christiane Amanpour, or Bob Smietana, or Niraj Warikoo, or Kari Huus, or Alex Kane, or Max Blumenthal, or Michael Kruse, or Anne Barnard, or Scott Shane, or Mark Hicks, or any other of the nakedly biased “journalists” who have in recent years sided with Islamic supremacist enemies of free speech and abetted their defamation of foes of jihad terror and defenders of free speech, be lamenting, “We did it!” as the gate clangs shut on them? Or will they be eagerly jockeying for power among the new authoritarian elites?

More likely the latter.

“Report: US Drops to 46th in Press Freedom,” by Taheshah Moise for Breitbart, February 12 (thanks to Anne Crockett):
According to Reporters Without Borders, America dropped 13 spots on the World Press Freedom Index 2014, designed to rank 180 countries in terms of the freedoms journalists enjoy and the regulations placed on them by government authorities.
The Index, published Feb. 11, shows that America now ranks number 46, below countries like South Africa and France. The Index has been published annually since 2002, but the 2014 ranking for America marks one of the most significant declines ever reported.
According to Christophe Deloire, the Reporters Without Borders Secretary General, the World Freedom Index is based on seven criteria: the level of abuses, the extent of pluralism, media independence, the environment and self-censorship, the legislative framework, transparency and infrastructure.
Investigative journalist James Risen believes the Index rightly shows the drop in American journalists’ freedoms due to crackdowns on reporters and whistleblowers and the efforts of the Obama administration and the National Security Agency to limit the amount of information America has concerning the “War on Terror” and other subjects.
“I think 2013 will go down in history as the worst year for press freedom in the United States modern history,” James Risen said.
Risen, who has reported for the New York Times since 1998, said he has personally felt some of the backlash of the guarded Obama administration and has seen some of his colleagues suffer repercussions as well.
Rather than pursue journalists, the Obama administration has focused on their sources—the two most scrutinized whistleblowers being Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.
“We have an administration that came in claiming that it was going to be the most transparent in history when in fact it is one of the most secretive in history, and certainly the most aggressive anti-press administration in modern American history,” Risen said….

Playing devil's advocate
By: Diane Sori

“He gave the president exactly what he wanted, which is exactly what the Republican Party said we did not want.” - Rep. Tim Huelskamp R-Kansas

Some traitors are obvious...the names Barack HUSSEIN Obama and Hillary Clinton just roll off the tongue...but sadly some traitors cause one to sigh in total disillusionment...and Speaker of the House John Boehner is one such man...or is he.

Leading the Republican push to raise the government’s borrowing limit until March 2015 without any conditions, on the surface it appears that John Boehner sold his country, his party, and 'We the People' out...yet he bowed to the will of Barack HUSSEIN Obama...the man he knows damn well is on target in his quest to implode our country from within.

And 27 fellow Republicans* voted right along with him.
This 221 to 201 vote represented the first debt ceiling increase since 2009 that was NOT attached to other legislation. And thanks to Boehner the Republican party is for now even more divided. Appearing to set off a battle between TEA Party Republicans...translation: fiscally responsible Republicans...and the 'old guard' establishment types...the last thing we need as we countdown to the mid-terms is any more division between the party loyal and the party's next generation of leaders. 
The last thing we need for sure but could this move of Boehner's have actually been done to bring the two factions together...let me explain.

Playing devil's advocate, let's look first at what this vote appears on the surface to be...Boehner's supposed sell-out appears as an out-and-out victory for, as well as a total capitulation to, Barack HUSSEIN Obama and Harry Reid who must be 'high-fiving' each other over the fact that they pulled off yet another screwing of 'We the People'...or did they. And I just bet those Senate Republicans... Republicans who stood in unison with the Democrats in saying that spending money for previously incurred obligations and debts is a must to assure the financial standing of the federal government ...must have salivated as they awaited their turn to vote to complete the 'supposed' sell-out of the American people...the American people who elected them to their bidding NOT the bidding of what looks like to some to be a traitor.

And in his outward pushing for this approval without attaching 'conditions' Boehner showed exactly where he stood in regards to our veterans for he dropped the condition that would have tied the debt ceiling increase to a repeal of cuts to military retirement pensions...but what's NOT being least by the that this will still be voted on as a stand-alone measure, meaning these cuts can still be done away with.

And so it appears that the 'Boehner Rule' of 2011,where he stated that any debt ceiling increase must be offset by an equivalent spending cut was just empty words. And right now it sure seems that way. However, those Republicans who voted for this approval are presenting a far different scenario as they are saying they voted as they did to avoid yet another politically damaging legislative impasse over spending...and they just might be right as now some leading Republican strategists and pundits (including's Financial Reporter and FOX News Contributor Guy Benson) are coming to their defense saying that what appears to be a debt ceiling capitulation actually is a clever ploy by Boehner to keep the focus one hundred percent on ObamaCare come the it should be because ObamaCare is Barack HUSSEIN Obama's Achilles heel.

Remember, many Democrats up for re-election in November are already distancing themselves from ObamaCare, so a smart Republican strategy would be to use ObamaCare against slam them with it non-stop...but that can't be done if other issues are hanging around. So now let's think this through more clearly and realize that by this vote coming down as it did...with Boehner knowing beforehand that he did NOT have the votes to stop it...the Republicans have now actually cleared off their plate and taken away any of the obstacles the Democrats could use against them.
Everything else still hanging around can and will be voted on separately and how the Democrats vote on those issues...especially anything involving our military and our veterans...will be completely owned by them along with any and all ramifications that come with their votes. And this translates into the Democrats NOT being able to blame the Republicans for causing another government shutdown because they refused to raise the debt ceiling.

Poor Democrats...anything that happens from now on they will have built...and they will now own.

So if you look at it this way Boehner's move was actually quite clever for now Republicans across the entire ideological party spectrum...from hardcore Conservatives to TEA Party Republicans to the more moderate Republicans...all who are in agreement that another round of political brinkmanship most likely would harm the party come November...just like it did after October's government shutdown...has now had all obstacles and baggage removed by this one vote, thus clearing the way for ObamaCare to be used as the arrow to be shot right into Obama's Achilles heel.

And the prize will be the Republicans re-taking the Senate and increasing their majority in the House...and maybe just maybe this was John Boehner's plan all along. After all, even a a broken right twice a day.

And from a devil's advocate perspective it does make sense, but I'll leave it up to you to decide...

* John Boehner, Ohio; Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Va.; Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Calif.; Chief Deputy Whip Pete Roskam, R-Ill.; Ken Calvert, Calif.; Dave Camp, Mich.; Michael Grimm, N.Y.; Richard Hanna, N.Y; Doc Hastings, Wash.; Darrell Issa, Calif.; Devin Nunes, Calif; Hal Rogers, Ky.; Dave Reichert, Wash.; Chris Collins, N.Y.; Howard Coble, N.C.; Charlie Dent, Pa.; Mike Fitzpatrick, Pa.; Pete King, N.Y.; Frank LoBiondo, N.J.; Buck McKeon, Calif.; Patrick Meehan, Pa.; Gary Miller, Calif.; Ed Royce, Calif.; John Runyan, N.J.; John Shimkus, Ill.; Chris Smith, N.J.; David Valadao, Calif.;          Frank Wolf, Va.