"What happened was so outrageous, so demeaning, so un-judicial, so awful in every respect, that we just absolutely have reached a boiling point," said Rep. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), senior Democrat on the House Rules Committee.
House Democrats are up in arms because Chairman Darrell Issa quickly adjourned a committee hearing on the IRS targeting of tea party groups without letting any Democrat speak. Lois Lerner, former head of tax-exempt groups at the IRS, had once again exercised her Fifth Amendment right and refused to answer questions during the hearing so Issa saw “no point in moving forward.”
However, because the committee chairman cut the microphone on Rep. Elijah Cummings as he tried to speak, House Democratic leaders are now saying that Issa “not only violated House rules, but also undermined the workings of democracy,” reports The Hill.
Cummings accused Issa of staging a politically motivated attack on the Obama administration without allowing the Democrats to respond — a dynamic he characterized as "un-American."
"Basically, what happened yesterday is Chairman Issa wanted to hold a hearing, and then shut it down before the Democrats could [utter] one syllable. There's definitely something wrong with that picture," Cummings said. "It is un-American, it is unfair, and I reminded Chairman Issa that each one of my colleagues on the Democratic side, we too are elected by 700,000 people, and they deserve a voice."
"The fact is, Mr. Cummings came to make a point of his objections to the process we've been going through," Issa said on Wednesday. "He was actually slandering me at the moment that the the mics did go off -- by claiming that this has not been a real investigation.
"This has been a bipartisan investigation by multiple committees in which we had testimony in multiple hearings...in which it was very clear there was targeting of conservative groups -- in which there were people acting outside the norm," he continued.
"We're going to continue our investigation. But just because Mr. Cummings would like to have a more convenient truth, doesn't give him the right to make a speech."
The House rejected a Democratic resolution on Thursday that condemned Issa’s conduct.
“While we are facing true challenges and real obstacles, there is no other nation that I would trade places with. There is no other country that I would rather be.”
Florida Senator Marco Rubio spoke to a packed house Thursday afternoon at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Although not as riveting as the Cruz speech or as well-received as the Christie speech, Rubio was all business, making excellent points concerning the global impact of American leadership.
“I am convinced that despite the bad leadership that we are getting today, we are literally on the verge - if we make a few right decisions - of a new American century.”
Rubio then went on to illustrate a world in which the totalitarian regimes of China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia were left unchecked to make whatever decisions they wished:
“Without American engagement, the world I just painted for you is not only a possibility, it is a real probability.”
The highlight of his speech came when he called out the Obama Administration for its foreign policy failures that have put both the economy and the American people at risk.
“We have a president who believes that by the sheer force of his personality he could be able to shape global events. We have a president that believes that by going around the world and giving key speeches in key places, he can shape the behavior of other nations,” Rubio said. “We do not have the luxury of seeing the world the way we hope it would be. We have to see the world the way it is." He continued, "We need leaders that understand clearly what our role in the world is in an unapologetic way, and we also need to be able to afford it - which means that we need an economy has sustains it.”
On another note, conspicuously absent from Rubio’s address was any mention of immigration reform. Redemption narrative? We’ll soon see.
We also find out that she is a former Hannity intern who gives a "maybe" when asked if she would go to MSNBC.
After strolling into CPAC with his eight-man security entourage and posing for pictures with countless college students, a smiling Donald Trump sauntered up to the main ballroom podium and delivered a rambling yet impassioned speech that covered virtually every political issue under the sun.
“No teleprompter,” he roared, just before beginning his remarks in an obvious jab at the president. “No teleprompter.”
Then he got down to business.
“I have to tell you,” he said, “that our country is in serious, serious trouble. We owe 17 trillion dollars!”
“We have debt that’s beyond belief,” he continued. “We have deficits that nobody can comprehend. China, which I’ve been talking about for the last five years, just de-valued their currency.”
“[And] the reason they did it is because our leadership is so weak, and so pathetic, they can get away with it," he said. "Believe me, they’re taking our jobs.”
Unsurprisingly, too, he used his plum speaking slot to compare President Obama to one of conservatives’ least favorite American presidents: Jimmy Carter.
“We have a president who just came out today with his lowest job approval ratings -- 38 percent,” he said, referring to the new Fox News poll that dropped Wednesday. “We’re getting into Jimmy Carter territory. And I never thought we’d see something like that [again].”
“I think by next month, we’ll surpass the late, great Jimmy Carter,” he added with a chuckle.
Then abruptly turning to more serious matters, he addressed the Republican Party’s electoral prospects in 2014 -- and beyond.
“I believe the Republicans, and conservative Republicans [are] going to take the Senate,” he asserted matter-of-factly. And when Republicans challenge Hillary in 2016, he added, they’ll “probably” triumph as well.
“[Because we] have so many problems and so little leadership,” he told the audience. “And it’s all about the leadership.”
Curiously, Mr. Trump was also very concerned about the sorry state of America’s roads, bridges and infrastructure -- problems, he said, that are contributing to America's decline. This was unacceptable in his view.
“We’re becoming a third world country,” he declared.
“The bottom line is very simple [to fixing our country],” he concluded. “Make America strong again, make America great again. We have such unbelievable potential. [We] need the right leaders.”
And with that, the speech ended in lukewarm, scattered applause.
Thursday was a banner day for observers of the (very) early 2016 GOP horserace at CPAC, as six rumored presidential candidates addressed attendees. Below is video and brief commentary about each speech, in order of appearance: (1) Sen. Ted Cruz - Whether it was a scheduling necessity of a deliberate strategy, the decision to have Cruz kick off the festivities was savvy. The (occasionally late-arriving) CPAC crowd queued up early and jockeyed for position to see the junior Senator from Texas, who was a big draw. The off-the-cuff ten point conservative plan Cruz outlined was jam-packed with red meat and energized the audience:
(4) Gov. Chris Christie - The New Jersey Governor was greeted with a generous, but not raucous, standing ovation by the audience, which seemed to warm to his message as he progressed through his energetic speech. Christie underscored his conservative credentials -- including beating Big Labor to achieve landmark pension reform -- and noted that deep blue New Jersey has now re-elected its first pro-life governor since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. He beat up on Beltway dysfunction, crowed about the conservative achievements of Republican governors around the country (don't forget, he's RGA chairman), ripped Democrats' misplaced obsession with income inequality, and warned that Republicans must convince voters of what they're for, not just what they're against. And in a pointed reminder about the realities of electoral politics, Christie said, "we don't get to govern if we don't win:"
(5) Gov. Bobby Jindal - Louisiana's chief executive focused most of his remarks on the important issues of education reform and religious freedom, peppering his address with a number of anti-Obama zingers that for some reason fell flat in the room. Jindal is a keen intellect and a strong manager, but I've yet to see him really electrify a room. He performed well today, but there was a palpable lull in enthusiasm inside the ballroom between Christie and Rubio. If Jindal wants to be a contender at the next level, overcoming this stylistic shortcoming -- the exact nature of which is tough to pin down -- needs to be a priority. He's long on substance, which is a real asset:
(6) Sen. Marco Rubio - At last year's CPAC gathering, Rubio spoke back-to-back with Sen. Rand Paul and seemed to be overshadowed by his colleague from Kentucky. The Florida Senator struck me as strangely unfocused and off his game. This year, on the heels of a well-received and impassioned floor speech on Cuba and Venezuela last week, Rubio broke through with a truly excellent message. He attacked 'big government' economics, scolding Democrats for intentionally dividing America rather than fostering growth and opportunity. He also built a stirring case for a strong America in the international arena, defending the United States as the world's indispensable nation. He closed with a moving tribute to his father and the American dream, appearing to fight back tears as he recalled his dad's last days. Some conservatives will never forgive him for his 'Gang of Eight' gambit (immigration went unmentioned in his comments), but Rubio once again showed why he's a force to be reckoned with. This may have been the best speech of the day:
Beyond the 2016 buzz, three GOP Senators also delivered memorable speeches: Mike Lee of Utah spoke about the positive, proactive agenda he's seeking to help build within the party -- admonishing conservatives to stop talking about Ronald Reagan, and start acting like him. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania recounted the blow Harry Reid and the White House suffered in the Senate yesterday, when President Obama's radical DOJ nominee was defeated. And Tim Scott of South Carolina spoke compellingly about his journey from being a failing high school freshman to a United States Senator.
Speaking Thursday afternoon at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre made it clear the civil rights organization isn't backing down when it comes to protecting the Second Amendment rights of American gun owners ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.
"The NRA's five million members and America’s 100 million gun owners won't back down, not now, not ever," LaPierre said. "Our Second Amendment in this country separates us from any other country on earth. It makes us better than other countries and it makes us stronger than other countries."
After thanking the audience and NRA members for their ongoing support and fight against anti-gun legislation, LaPierre railed against the media.
"The media's intentional corruption of the truth is an abomination...They've never told the truth about the NRA. They hate us," he said. "One of America's greatest threats is a national media that fails to provide a level playing field for the truth."
LaPierre also warned about legislative power grabs at local states levels and the filled money coffers of anti-Second Amendment activists.
"This election will be won or lost on every street ... where every NRA member lives and works and volunteers and campaigns," he said. "The NRA will not go quietly into the night. We will fight."
Fox News Host Alisyn Camerota: "You've heard some of our leaders liken this exchange to a chess game. You are a world-class chess master. How would you check mate Putin?"
Kasparov: "I could do that if played chess and played by the rules. He's playing poker. He has a weak hand, but he knows how to raise the stakes and he knows how to bluff, and it's time to call his bluff."
Kasparov also added this: "Dictators can be stopped only by demonstration of strength. [...] It's dangerous to confront Putin today, but tomorrow it will be more dangerous and more costly."
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), addressed CPAC on Wednesday afternoon, urging a "new agenda" for the conservative movement that contradicts the existing Republican establishment. According to Lee, the current strategy employed in Washington is to let President Obama's numerous failures speak for themselves and somehow that will result in electoral victories. Lee disputed this, and urged conservatives to "get to work" and go on offense to win elections.
If conservatives do not do this work, we will lose in 2014, and 2016, and beyond. We will lose, and we will deserve to lose.
Lee then reminded the CPAC crowd that Ronald Reagan was once blamed for handing President Carter his presidency because Reagan challenged Ford in the Republican primary in 1976. Reagan, according to Lee, knew that the issues in the Republican party primarily lay with the establishment, not with his candidacy. Reagan challenged the audience members at the fourth-annual CPAC conference to form a "New Republican Party" that emphasizes positive change and solid principles, and by 1980, he won the presidency in a landslide. Lee urged the crowd to take up this spirit and essentially reboot the GOP for the next election.
We have concrete, specific proposals to help lower-income families overcome welfare, improve education and job training, and rescue at-risk communities with too few jobs, too few fathers, and too little hope.
We have solutions to end cronyist privilege and corporate welfare, to close the Beltway Favor Bank, and put America’s political and corporate elites back to work for the rest of us.
And we have introduced legislation to rescue America’s working families from the middle class squeeze. To make it more affordable to raise and educate their kids, and afford health insurance and a home of their own.
We have an agenda. And contrary to the Establishment’s advice, we’re not hiding it from the media or the American people, or from you. It’s time for the Republican Party to stop talking about Ronald Reagan and start acting like him.
Liberal tolerance has struck again in academia, this time at Rutgers University.
Former Secretary of State and Stanford University Professor Condoleezza Rice was invited to speak at the 2014 Rutgers commencement ceremony. Now, a faculty board at the university is demanding the invitation be revoked. Tolerant liberal students are demanding the same.
Rutgers University professors and students are crying foul over the school's decision to invite former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to speak at this year's commencement ceremony.
Rutgers' New Brunswick Faculty Council passed a resolution last week calling on the university's board of governors to rescind its invitation to Rice, who will receive $35,000 and an honorary doctorate for the speech, The Star-Ledger reported.
The resolution said Rutgers should not honor Rice because of her role in the war in Iraq and the Bush administration’s policy of "enhanced interrogation techniques," such as waterboarding, the report said.
So why the outrage? Students and professors are accusing Rice of promoting torture during her time in the Bush administration. The good news is school officials who made the decision to invite Roce
“How do you win elections? You stand for principle.”
Cruz was in his element this morning as he kicked off the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland’s National Harbor. The speech was a mix of old and new; and while the content contained the Senator’s hallmark principles, it was the tone, empowered by his skillful eloquence, that set his words apart.
There was no riling of the troops with a monologue over the evils of Obamacare - Cruz set that wave in motion and others have since taken up the torch. Instead, the audience was inspired by a fresh message calling for positive change through responsibility and courage.
“How do we inspire people? Number one: we tell the truth…The truth is that Washington is corrupt. You are in some of the richest counties in the country. As more and more people make great wealth in Washington, young people, single moms, and small business owners suffer…Real change is changing the corruption here in Washington, D.C.”
The most notable tenant of the Senator’s speech, however, was his appeal to the youth in the audience. He spoke directly to them, saying that young minds must be won in order for the party to achieve success in the future. According to Cruz, the American people want to support what he termed was a “bold, winning agenda” that would turn the country around.
Among the key points included in his agenda were an expansion of an American energy renaissance to increase national security and job creation, supporting school choice, passing a strong, balanced budget, ending corporate welfare, and passing a Constitutional amendment institutionalizing term limits for members of Congress.
Leaders in the Republican Party are certainly working to market a new, positive image that, should it continue to pervade the dialogue, will prove to be stronger than ever in 2014. Watch Cruz’s performance here, and be inspired for yourself.