The Reasons Behind Obama’s Failures

Ted Bromund /

In early October, President Obama warned his supporters to “make no mistake: these policies [of mine] are on the ballot. Every single one of them”. After the November elections, he probably wishes he hadn’t said that: the scale of the liberal defeat is remarkable, as are its causes.

In 2008, Obama had long coat-tails: when he took office in 2009, the House of Representatives had 256 Democrats. In 2015, it will probably have 188.

But the underlying reasons for Obama’s failure run deeper than the normal swings of the political pendulum. Four of them are vital. The first is that a good part of Obama’s appeal in 2008 was that he was, supposedly, a man above mere politics. He was compared to Abraham Lincoln, a canny politician we now misremember as being above the partisan fray.

This was nonsense. If you want to get anywhere in politics, you have to be a politician. And the essence of politics has not changed since Aristotle’s time. That doesn’t mean that politicians are all liars. But it does mean that anyone who looks for salvation in a politician is going to be disappointed. Obama was hyped so high in 2008 that he had nowhere to go but down.

Another reason for Obama’s failure was that he sought, in his words, to begin “the work of remaking America”. The entire American political system was designed by the Founding Fathers to frustrate his plans. The Constitution, with its checks and balances and its separation of powers, was intended to limit the government and prevent transient majorities from having their way.

Within those limits, Obama has actually – and from a conservative perspective, regrettably – done a lot: Obamacare itself is proof of that. But inevitably, having set out his stall on the claim that he would fundamentally transform the United States, Obama has come up short. He has increasingly resorted to unilateral executive actions precisely because he resents the system’s constraints, but that just feeds the narrative that he’s more emperor than president.

The third reason for Obama’s failure is that most of his ideas were wrong. There were no shovel-ready jobs waiting for the stimulus spending. Fixing health care did not require ripping apart the insurance market. The answer to a weak economy was not expensive green energy.

Iran was not waiting for an outstretched hand of friendship. Russia wanted a reset for malicious reasons of its own, not because it wanted to be our friend. Al-Qaida was not on the run. The Arab Spring was not a new democratic dawn. The European Union was not a force for prosperity. Israel was not the reason the Middle East is so troubled.

Everyone makes mistakes. But it’s hard to bounce back from so many fundamental errors, especially when – and this was Obama’s fourth error – the administration has been terrible at the boring business of being competent.

The fiasco of Obamacare was bad enough. But then there was the Veterans Administration scandal, the Secret Service’s prostitute parties, the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups, Ebola and the Justice Department’s gun-running into Mexico, to name only a few of the screw-ups that have tainted the administration.

We should never attribute to malice what can plausibly be explained by incompetence. And conservatives aren’t shocked when governments make mistakes: it’s what we expect them to do. But incompetence wears more heavily on liberals, because they are the ones who always want government to do more. The evidence is overwhelming that government can’t do it well.

Obama came into office wanting, in his words, to make government cool again. But as respected U.S. political analyst Michael Barone points out, since Watergate and with the exception of the 9/11 aftermath, trust in government peaked under Ronald Reagan, precisely because Reagan sought to limit government. Under Obama, it has fallen to near-historic lows.

The conservative triumphs in 2010 and 2014 have not irrevocably set America’s destiny: there are no permanent victories in politics. But there was a fundamental contradiction between the apolitical fantasy that Obama embodied, and the real-world desire of the American people to support liberal policies, especially when incompetently administered.

Once the fantasy wore off, reality set in. And for liberals, reality is often bad news.

Originally appeared in the Yorkshire Post.

How to Reform No Child Left Behind - Daily Signal

How to Reform No Child Left Behind

Ted Bromund / Lindsey Burke /

Lawmakers already are talking about reauthorizing No Child Left Behind — the George W. Bush-era education initiative. “I’d like to have the president’s signature on it before summer,” challenged Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who will assume chairmanship of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee when Congress resumes in January.

But lawmakers should be pursuing bold education reforms, not searching out weak legislative compromises that fail to limit federal overreach. Congressional conservatives should take this opportunity to rewrite NCLB in a way that empowers state and local educators, not Washington bureaucrats.

Previous proposals introduced by Mr. Alexander and Rep. John Kline, Minnesota Republican, would have streamlined NCLB and created some nominal flexibility for states and school districts. But more substantive reforms are in order. The following four policy goals should accompany any reauthorization of NCLB.

First, policymakers should enable states to completely opt out of the programs that fall under No Child Left Behind. One such proposal is the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS) Act. Including the A-PLUS approach in a prospective reauthorization of NCLB would let states consolidate their federal education funds and use them for any lawful education purpose they deem beneficial. This would allow states to escape NCLB’s prescriptive and programmatic requirements and use funds in ways that would better meet their students’ needs.

Next, policymakers should work to reduce the number of programs that fall under NCLB. The original Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) — the precursor to NCLB — included five titles, 32 pages and roughly $1 billion in federal funding. By the time ESEA was reauthorized for the seventh time in 2001 as No Child Left Behind, new mandates had been imposed on states and local school districts, and the law authorized dozens upon dozens of federal education programs, a reflection of national policymakers’ tendency to create a “program for every problem.”

In order to pay for the dozens of competitive and formula grant programs funded under NCLB, the annual cost of the federal initiative now exceeds $25 billion. The growth in program count and spending over the decades has failed to improve educational outcomes for students and, as such, should be curtailed.

Policymakers should also eliminate burdensome federal mandates. Accountability and transparency “should be vehicles to reinvigorate the relationship of the American people with their schools rather than merely mechanisms employed by government officials to oversee and hold government schools accountable,” wrote former Deputy Education Secretary Eugene Hickok and education researcher Matthew Ladner in a 2007 analysis of NCLB.

To achieve that goal, Congress should eliminate the many federal mandates within NCLB masquerading as accountability, including Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements, Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) mandates and costly “maintenance of effort” rules, which require states to keep spending high in order to receive federal funding.

Finally, and at a minimum, policymakers should include a state option for Title I funding portability. The $14.5 billion Title I program accounts for the bulk of NCLB spending. It serves one of the 1965 ESEA’s original and primary purposes by channeling additional federal funding to low-income school districts.

However, Title I funds are distributed through a convoluted funding formula which, as researcher Susan Aud has noted, includes “provisions that render the final results substantially incongruent with the original legislative intention.”

To make Title I work for the disadvantaged children it was originally intended to help, the program’s funding formula should be simplified, and Congress should let states make the funding “portable,” allowing it to follow a child to the school of his parents’ choice — public, private, charter or virtual.

During any prospective ESEA reauthorization, Congress should reduce program count (and associated spending), eliminate federal mandates on states and local school districts and create portability of Title I funding. Such an approach represents a first small step toward reform. Bold reforms are needed, including the opportunity for states to completely exit the 600-page regulatory behemoth that is No Child Left Behind.

Originally appeared in the Washington Times.

Timeout! Minnesota City Passes Moratorium on Solar Power - Daily Signal

Timeout! Minnesota City Passes Moratorium on Solar Power

Ted Bromund / Lindsey Burke / Tom Steward /

MONTICELLO, Minn. — Supporters of solar power say the future is bright in Minnesota, thanks to a slew of subsidies toward requiring big utilities to generate 1.5 percent of their power from solar by 2020.

Despite a rush by some cities to get on the bandwagon, Monticello was the first municipality in the state to impose at least a temporary moratorium prohibiting installations to generate solar power.

“Given this emerging technology, it would be wise for the city to be proactive and take the opportunity to understand this issue for development and for regulations,” said Angela Schumann, Monticello community development director, in recommending the moratorium to the City Council on Nov. 24.

The interim ordinance slaps a year-long ban on applications or the issuance of city permits for the principal use of property for solar energy generation.

“Right in the middle of town, we could have a huge solar farm, which probably isn’t in the best interest of the city to have that there as opposed to a business,” said Monticello Mayor Clint Herbst.

The moratorium idea surfaced as City Hall began receiving anonymous exploratory inquiries about the availability of land within and just outside the city limits.

“They usually don’t disclose. They’re usually general questions,” said Schumann in an interview. “The handful of inquiries we’ve gotten are really more related to property. Is this property in the city. Is it out? Does the city allow solar energy, and in what capacity? And they really don’t disclose who they’re working for or in what capacity. So it’s difficult to know whether they’re solar development companies or landowners.”

After checking with other cities it became apparent to Monticello zoning officials entities tied to solar energy producers were targeting their neighbors.

“There’s been several cities or counties that have talked about whether they need to do a moratorium because there’s been this kind of a bit of a feeding frenzy around solar farms and solar energy development,” said Brian Ross of CR Planning, a consulting firm that advises local governments on energy policy and land use.

Read more at Watchdog.org.

State-Run University Spent $96,000 on First-Class Airline Tickets - Daily Signal

State-Run University Spent $96,000 on First-Class Airline Tickets

Ted Bromund / Lindsey Burke / Tom Steward / Deena Winter /

LINCOLN, Neb. — The University of Nebraska has been dinged by the state auditor for allowing employees to spend nearly $96,000 on 20 first-class flights around the world, book $300-a-night oceanfront resort rooms for a week and get reimbursed for alcohol while traveling, in violation of state law.

While digging through travel records, auditors found 20 first-class airline tickets costing nearly $96,000 charged by the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

The state accounting manual requires reimbursement for flights be limited to coach fare, if it’s available. No reasons were given for the upgrades, according to State Auditor Mike Foley’s letter to the university.

Jack Gould, issues chairman for Common Cause Nebraska, said university employees need to remember they’re spending taxpayer dollars and tuition of “students working two, three jobs.”

“Those people are working hard out there, they’re not living first-class,” Gould said.

Among the first-class UNMC trips:

University spokeswoman Melissa Lee said the cases cited by the auditor represent a small share of total travel.

“It’s among our highest priorities to be responsible stewards of our resources,” Lee said via email. “We’re confident in the policies we have in place for reporting travel.”

Read more at Watchdog.org.

Obama’s Cuba Move Shows He’s Listening to International Left - Daily Signal

Obama’s Cuba Move Shows He’s Listening to International Left

Ted Bromund / Lindsey Burke / Tom Steward / Deena Winter / Mike Gonzalez /

Why did President Obama go for broke on Cuba, announcing the United States would normalize relations with that repressive regime? The answer appears in his statement to the nation. There, the president not only made clear that this change has been on his bucket list for some time, but also that his knowledge of Cuba comes straight out of the international Left’s playbook.

“When I came into office, I promised to re-examine our Cuba policy,” Obama said, proving once again that last month’s midterm shellacking seems to have had an odd effect on our president. Rather than make him humble, rejection at the polls has liberated him to do all the things he wants in his “legacy.”

His rationale for acting was instructive, too. In essence, for 15 minutes Obama reeled off a list of talking points one could hear anywhere from the Left Bank of the River Seine to, say, any dusty classroom in Cuba. The only thing missing was the picture of Che so omnipresent in Paris or Havana. The image his platitudes sought to create was the following: the embargo, not Communism’s internal insanity, has left Cuba a pauperized police state; our relations have been frozen by ideology, not principles or national interests; and the United States used to be Cuba’s colonial power.

Now, the one thing all these views have in common is that they are A, untrue, and B, favorite talking points of the international Left.

President Obama Versus Reality

Obama: “I was born in 1961, just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba and just a few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion, which tried to overthrow his regime. Over the next several decades, the relationship between our countries played out against the Cold War and America’s steadfast opposition to communism. We are separated by just over 90 miles. But year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between the two countries.”

The Castros are still in power not because of the embargo, but because they practice state terror.

Reality: The remarkable aspect of this is that for 55 years one man, with help from his brother, has imposed Communist repression on the Cuban people, plunging them in economic penury while perfecting a police state. The United States was simply reacting to the theft of its property and the affront to its principles. In the Bay of Pigs, it was Cubans who invaded their island. Gone unsaid is that Cuba hosted nuclear missiles aimed at America (see: Cuban Missile Crisis).

Obama: “Today, Cuba is still governed by the Castros and the Communist Party that came to power half a century ago. Neither the American nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that’s rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.”

Reality: The policy is not rooted in the Bay of Pigs, or the Missile Crisis, for that matter. It is rooted in the beatings and imprisonment that Cuban dissidents receive today, and the affront to our values that human rights being trampled 90 miles away represents. The Castros are still in power not because of the embargo, but because they practice state terror.

Obama: “To the Cuban people, America extends a hand of friendship. Some of you have looked to us as a source of hope, and we will continue to shine a light of freedom. Others have seen us as a former colonizer intent on controlling your future … Let us leave behind the legacy of both colonization and communism.”

Reality: Nobody in Cuba sees the United States as a former colonizer, namely because the United States never colonized Cuba. Only the communist regime speaks in these terms to the 11 million Cubans it tries (unsuccessfully) to indoctrinate. The United States, much to its credit, came to the aid of Cubans in 1898 after they had spent more than three decades in an on-again, off-again protracted war with Spain. After dispatching Spain in a matter of weeks, the United States said right from the beginning that Cuba would become independent, which it did only four years later.

The United States Did Not Colonize Cuba

Three of my great-grandfathers fought in this war, on both sides (the fourth had not yet arrived from Spain). I grew up with a grandmother who was seven years old when the war ended. My house, in other words, resonated with talk of the war and the U.S. occupation 60 years later. The consensus was that there was no way Cubans would have been free from Spain if the United States had not entered on the side of the Cubans.

Nobody in Cuba sees the United States as a former colonizer, namely because the United States never colonized Cuba.

Sure, the United States played a large role in Cuba until the Castro takeover in 1959. These were the results: in 1957, Cuba had the lowest infant mortality rate in all of Latin America, and thirteenth-lowest in the world. They’ve now dropped to twenty-fifth in the world. In the pre-revolutionary era, Cuba was third in all of Latin America in terms of caloric intake. It now ranks last in per capita daily caloric intake.

In the 1950s, Cubans had 58 newspapers to choose from; only four other countries in Latin America had more. By 1994, the print media had decreased to only 17; all are controlled by the Cuban government.

In other words, President Obama could have been proud of the role that the United States has played in Cuba, from 1898 to the present. Instead, he chose to spout the clichés of the internationalist Left and to curry their favor by recognizing Raul Castro.

Originally appeared on TheFederalist.com.

Mississippi Looking to Expand Use of Police Body Cameras - Daily Signal

Mississippi Looking to Expand Use of Police Body Cameras

Ted Bromund / Lindsey Burke / Tom Steward / Deena Winter / Mike Gonzalez / Steve Wilson /

Smile Mississippi, police may have you on camera.

Police body cameras could work as an accountability tool for patrol officers and help protect them from false abuse complaints. Studies have backed up the advantages of using the devices, but with technology and data storage come privacy concerns.

Columbus and Cleveland police already use body cameras in Mississippi.

Mississippi Rep. Chuck Espy, D-Clarksdale, has proposed a bill for next year’s session that would have state taxpayers buying cameras for patrol officers.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi supports the use of body cameras for police, but it acknowledges issues to address.

“Body cams can be a win-win,” said Rebecca Curry, director of policy and advocacy at the Mississippi ACLU.  “For police who have accusations filed against them, they can have a transcript of what actually happened. And if something went on with police misconduct, the public has a right to know, and [cameras] would assure accountability and transparency.”

Curry said procedures would need to be put into place to safeguard people’s privacy rights and give officers guidance about when to use the cameras and when to turn them off.

“I know the public might not be incredibly comfortable with you always being on film in any encounter with the police,” Curry said. “But there are some things we can do to put up some safeguards to protect the privacy of citizens, make sure the data is not retained too long and delineate guidelines for when a camera should be in use.”

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said he supports the use of the cameras, but address the issues first, he says.

“It’s good idea and a good concept, but the body cam is the least expensive part of the process,” Bailey said. “What do you do with the video when it gets full? You have to download it somewhere.”

Read more at Watchdog.org.

Government Audit Finds Welfare Fraud, Lack of Oversight - Daily Signal

Government Audit Finds Welfare Fraud, Lack of Oversight

Ted Bromund / Lindsey Burke / Tom Steward / Deena Winter / Mike Gonzalez / Steve Wilson / Deena Winter /

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska’s state auditor has unearthed a variety of problems with the way Nebraska doles out welfare and monitors the program, including $11,000 in payments for six months’ worth of cab rides, even though the welfare recipient owned a car.

Even though the problems were found during audits that are still in progress, State Auditor Mike Foley sent a letter to the state Department of Health and Human Services notifying it of the findings so far “due to their significance and the urgent need for corrective action.”

The auditors questioned costs in about half of the 20 cases it tested in the Employment First program, which people must participate in before getting welfare, or what’s now called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. TANF is a federal block grant program for low-income families with children that tries to shepherd people back to work while providing cash assistance.

This year, 6,441 Nebraskans qualified for a program in which they can get up to $222 per month, plus $71 for additional household members, to help with transportation, clothing, rent and education costs. Recipients can have resources of no more than $6,000 to be eligible for the program.

Auditors found a lack of monitoring of the program by DHHS contractors, timely eligibility reviews and said even after the department was notified of fraud allegations, it failed to follow up.

Before receiving monthly cash assistance, welfare recipients must search for jobs, education or training, but auditors found the only monitoring of contractors was a monthly random sample review to see if work participation rates were properly calculated.

Auditors found in 20 test cases that DHHS failed to follow its own rules and regulations and properly monitor contractors, causing more than $61,000 in questionable expenses out of a total $79,251 in supportive service payments.

Auditors also examined 20 cases to ensure the recipients were needy, and income wasn’t properly calculated in 11 of 20 cases; they also found nearly $7,800 in overpayments.

Auditors also said there was a lack of procedures to determine if a recipient was properly reporting resources, since caseworkers aren’t required to verify resources worth less than $1,500, regardless of how many resources they had. Recipients cannot have more than $4,000 in resources for single person, $6,000 for two or more.

Read more at Watchdog.org.

If Obama Wants More Solar Energy, Why Is He Making It So Expensive? - Daily Signal

If Obama Wants More Solar Energy, Why Is He Making It So Expensive?

Ted Bromund / Lindsey Burke / Tom Steward / Deena Winter / Mike Gonzalez / Steve Wilson / Deena Winter / Bryan Riley / Nicolas Loris / Alden Abbott /

President Obama has made it quite clear he wants to see more renewable energy in the United States. Then why is his administration making it more expensive?

The U.S. government recently announced plans to impose taxes of up to 78.42 percent on imported solar parts to protect U.S. manufacturers from foreign competition.

In this case, a foreign-owned firm that produces goods in the United States and benefits from U.S. government subsidies is seeking tariffs on inexpensive and allegedly subsidized foreign-made goods used by U.S. companies to generate solar energy.

Got that?

Mukesh Dulani, president of SolarWorld, the German-owned company that requested the tariffs on foreign-made goods, said, “These remedies come just in time to enable the domestic industry to return to conditions of fair trade.”

But according to Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy, “… the U.S. government is actually creating a module shortage that will make it hard for the U.S. solar industry to reach its 2015 and 2016 goals.”

The imported solar products in question allegedly were subsidized by foreign governments and sold at a lower price in the United States than in the countries where they were produced.

Before the proposed duties take effect, the U.S. International Trade Commission must determine whether U.S. companies have been injured by these imports. The legal hook in this matter is the U.S. “antidumping laws,” statutory provisions that allow for the imposition of tariffs on goods that are allegedly being imported at “unfairly low” prices and thereby harm American industries.

In reality, antidumping laws have little to do with “fair” trade. As The Heritage Foundation has observed:

“The antidumping laws are confusing and arbitrary, and in many instances merely allow American firms to secure punitive tariffs against competing importers where no unfair trade practices are involved. Worse, these laws drive up the costs of imported components used by other American enterprises, making their products less competitive in world markets.”

For example, U.S. law forbids the ITC from considering the impact of the imports in question on the overall American economy and downstream industries, only on the firms requesting protection from their foreign competitors.

And what about the billions of dollars in subsidies U.S. solar manufacturers have benefited from, including around $100 million in state and local incentives that SolarWorld received for its Hillsboro, Fla., production facility?

The solar industry has received handout after handout, including billions of dollars from taxpayers in the stimulus package, a generous investment tax credit as well as loan guarantees backed by the federal government (Solyndra anyone?). Further, 37 states have renewable portfolio standards that mandate the use of renewable energy.

The complexities involved in the SolarWorld case provide a good illustration of why U.S. antidumping laws should be modernized to allow Americans to take full advantage of the increasingly interconnected global economy.

And the market distortions caused by the federal government using taxpayer dollars to pick winners and losers provides plenty of reason to get the government out of the energy business.

Why Did John Kerry Just Apologize for America? - Daily Signal

Why Did John Kerry Just Apologize for America?

Ted Bromund / Lindsey Burke / Tom Steward / Deena Winter / Mike Gonzalez / Steve Wilson / Deena Winter / Bryan Riley / Nicolas Loris / Alden Abbott / Mike Gonzalez /

Before hopping on a plane to Lima last Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a key speech on Latin America in which he again engaged in the ritualistic self-flagellation for which this administration has lamentably come to be known. Kerry’s apologia included everything that’s been in the news for the past month, and then some.

It was more than an embarrassing moment or a wasted opportunity: it was a win for tyranny. The cause of liberty needs a strong, confident America that has the back of those who’ll dare anything to be free. Instead, Kerry strove to make clear that he was not the Ugly American, bringing up Ferguson, New York, and the Senate’s partisan report on our treatment of terrorist prisoners.

“Democracy is not a final destination; it is an endless journey,” the secretary pondered. “And we see that right here at home.”

“Even yesterday with the report that came out from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence—we hold ourselves accountable to an ugly, horrible period,” Kerry went on, adding later: “from the streets of New York City to Ferguson, Missouri, we are learning in painful, searing ways that justice and equality are not things that you can just parse out to some and deny to others.”

Kerry also made sure to mention the “genocide trial” of “former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt,” who during his 18-month tenure as president in the early 1980s dealt severe setbacks to Cuban- and Soviet-backed communist guerrillas. Kerry knows full well that the international Left has zeroed in on this trial as a way to besmirch President Reagan, who kept the region from becoming a forward base for Soviet outposts.

We’ll Whip Ourselves, Not Tyrants

So who did Kerry not mention? Search his speech at the State Department website for these words: Cuba, Castro, Venezuela, or its strongman Nicolas Maduro—whom Congress has just passed sanctions against for gross human rights violations—or Bolivia and its dictator-wannabe Evo Morales, Nicaragua or its anti-American leader Danny Ortega. Or save your time and take my word: they’re not there.

On the day Kerry spoke, Cuban police beat up human rights protestors and the next day Hong Kong police forcefully ended pro-democracy demonstrations.

Neither are mentions of Leopoldo Lopez, the Venezuelan opposition leader behind bars for almost a year, or his compatriot, the brave Maria Corina Machado, who will soon join him there. Also missing were Cuba’s stalwart Ladies in White, middle-aged women who are undeterred by the beatings they receive in the streets of Cuba but dress up their wounds and take to the streets again. Or Cuban opposition leader Antunez or Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera.

All of them are begging the Obama administration for support, but all they got from Kerry were infantilisms and platitudes about “climate change, and clean energy—which is, after all, the solution to climate change,” “the LGBT community” and the fact that “we recognize a basic truth: Social and economic exclusion anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

So it shouldn’t surprise that on the day Kerry spoke Cuban police beat up human rights protestors on the streets of Havana, and the next day Hong Kong police forcefully ended pro-democracy demonstrations.

The World’s Oppressed Need Our Moral Support

America, to be sure, doesn’t conduct its foreign policy to correct all the world’s wrongs, but to secure our freedom and sovereignty. “She goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy,” famously said one of Kerry’s predecessors, John Quincy Adams, in his 1821 Independence Day speech. But Adams understood that we are safer when freedom expands in the world, so he quickly added in the same speech a call for European citizens to overthrow their monarchical tyrants, outraging foreign diplomats in attendance and earning a protest from the czar’s government in Moscow.

Foreign liberty lovers seek moral validation of their cause, the knowledge that the world’s only superpower stands by them and believes in their cause.

To this day, what foreign liberty-seekers want from us is not “boots on the ground,” much less “nation-building.” They seek moral validation of their cause, the knowledge that an outside power—the world’s only superpower, no less—stands by them and believes in their cause. Rios Montt was a strongman more than three decades ago. There are anti-American dictators in Latin America right now who daily repress populations who need to know we’re on their side.

By happenstance, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was speaking at The Heritage Foundation at the same time Kerry spoke at State. Cruz made the following succinct point about the policy followed by Kerry and his predecessor Hillary Clinton: “weakness is provocative.”

“Today, the consequence of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy is that our friends no longer trust us, and our enemies no longer fear us,” said Cruz. “That is profoundly dangerous for America and is profoundly dangerous for the world.” Cruz added that, under Obama, the United States risks going from “the leader of the free world to a dutiful and obedient member of the international community.” He should have included Kerry in that critique.

Originally appeared on TheFederalist.com.

We Shouldn’t Legitimize the Castros and Establish Diplomatic Relations with Cuba - Daily Signal

We Shouldn’t Legitimize the Castros and Establish Diplomatic Relations with Cuba

Ted Bromund / Lindsey Burke / Tom Steward / Deena Winter / Mike Gonzalez / Steve Wilson / Deena Winter / Bryan Riley / Nicolas Loris / Alden Abbott / Mike Gonzalez / Peter Brookes /

Whoa! Sure, we should be thrilled the Cubans have released American Alan Gross, but Team Obama’s plan to normalize diplomatic relations with the Castro regime as a result is a bad idea.

At best.

First, it’s not as if this were some sort of humanitarian gesture on the part of the Cubans. They got three DGI — Cuban intelligence — officers in return for Gross and another unidentified Cuban who reportedly spied for the United States

Plus, while the regime released Gross and another, Cuba is still a prison in the shape of an island where some 11 million Cubans toil under the weight of one of the world’s most repressive regimes — and have done so for decades.

With all the discussion of “American values” recently over the Senate report on CIA interrogations after 9/11, it’s interesting we’d embrace Cuba, a communist dictatorship which suppresses social, political and economic liberties.

Where are the American values in that?

Moreover, the establishment of diplomatic relations legitimizes the Castros and their “storied” struggle against us. The last thing we should do is prop up this regime or give it a propaganda victory.

Worse, this might also be just the beginning of a warming in relations with the Castros for this White House.

For instance, ending the American embargo on the Cuban regime — which would require congressional approval — might be next. This will put more money in the pockets of Havana, which will undoubtedly use it to crush rights at home and stir up anti-American trouble abroad.

Have we already forgotten Cuban mischief-making in this hemisphere — and beyond — when Havana was flush with Moscow’s financial, military and moral support during the Cold War?

Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised by this move by Team Obama, which is likely looking to Cuba for an “at last” foreign policy win in a long string of failing strategies from Russia to Iran to the Islamic State.

Unfortunately, caving to Cuba won’t be one.

Originally appeared in the Boston Herald.