- The Capitol Steps ring in the season with two Christmas Carol parodies, as they poke fun at former Vice President Al Gore's ongoing insistence that the earth faces imminent doom from global warming and give Homeland Security's version of "The Night Before Christmas."
- The Danish newspaper editor who published the cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban is blasting Sony for caving in to hackers demanding that it scrap a movie depicting the assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.
Flemming Rose is foreign editor at Jyllands-Posten, the largest daily newspaper in Denmark, and is author of "The Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited A Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech." He published the Mohammed cartoon in 2005. Months later, the massive, deadly protests erupted in the Middle East in response to the cartoons.
This week, Sony Pictures decided not to release "The Interview" after hackers threatened to carry out a 9/11 terrorist attack on theaters showing the movie. Rose is deeply disappointed in the decision.
"I think it's a disaster. I think it's outrageous that Sony is caving in to this kind of pressure, even though I understand they would like to protect their people working for them," said Rose. "Sony is outsourcing the right to decide what is going to run in U.S. movie theaters to a dictator in North Korea."
Far from solving the problem, Rose says succumbing to this sort of cyber bullying only encourages more of it.
"It's a slippery slope. If you give in to this kind of intimidation and threats, you will not get less of this. You will get more because you tell the intimidators that it works," he said.
Rose hopes Sony executives will have a change of heart and release the film. If they don't, he has some other ideas to mitigate the damage to the freedom of speech.
"I think they should put it free online or they should call on every movie studio in Hollywood to do movies with similar plots," said Rose.
Nine years ago, Rose was faced with a similar decision. After learning that the author of a children's book about Mohammed could not get an illustrator to work on the project over fears of backlash, he commissioned Danish cartoonists to draw the founder of Islam, both to see if the cartoonists would limit their own expression and to start a dialogue about self-censorship in Denmark. Rose says he never thought about nixing the idea, although he never expected the reaction the image of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban would have in the Middle East.
The cartoon drew limited reaction for weeks. Three months later, Muslim groups in the Middle East launched protests in response. Over 200 people were killed. Rose still has no regrets for his decision and says there is no blood on his hands or on his newspaper.
"People often say the cartoons triggered violence in the Middle East. I think that's a very unfortunate phrase. There were people who made a decision to commit violence. It bears no automatic or mechanical relationship between publishing cartoons that cause offense to some people and committing violence. It's a decision that individuals make and they should be held accountable for what they do," said Rose.
Beyond that, Rose says standing up for freedom of speech and of the press is a vital for those who wish to preserve them and it's a lesson Sony and everyone else needs to embrace.
"If one person stands up, it's very easy to silence him. But if one thousand, five thousand, ten thousand and even one million do the same thing, it will dilute the fear. You cannot go after one million people," he said.
After Sony canceled the release of "The Interview" set for Christmas Day, some theater owners announced they would replace the film with "Team America: World Police," a profane film mocking then-North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il made by the creators of the "South Park" television show. However, Paramount Pictures quickly blocked any theaters from showing the movie. Rose says that only makes the problem worse.
"At some point, nobody will be able to say anything. It will all cause some kind of offense. If people feel they get their way when they threaten when they are offended by something, this is an open-ended process that will end in a tyranny of silence," said Rose.
After the cartoon controversy, Rose spent several years traveling the world and debating the importance of free speech versus respecting various cultures and other sensibilities. Rose believes the solution to what he faced and Sony is facing now is for people around the world to demand the freedom of speech.
"This is a global debate and we need a global solution. I think that the global solution will be a global first amendment that free speech is a fundamental right in any society and it cannot be balanced by religious sensibilities or dignity or certain versions of history," he said.
- President Obama's outreach to Cuba is simply a product of his leftist ideology and rewards an oppressive communist regime while gaining nothing for the United States, according to former U.S. Ambassador to the United States John Bolton.
On Wednesday, as he confirmed a prisoner swap with Cuba, Obama declared that our 53-year-old policy of severed diplomatic relations and an economic and travel embargo aimed at the Castro regime was a failure and bore considerable blame for the poor relations between the two nations and for the impoverished state of the Cuban people. Obama then announced negotiations designed to resume normal diplomatic relations and called on Congress to lift economic and travel embargoes aimed at Cuba.
Bolton wholeheartedly rejects Obama's narrative.
"It's a very bad decision. It's highly ideological. It comes from a leftist perspective that the president expressed in his remarks explaining the new policy. He believes that we are as much responsible for our disagreements with Cuba as the communist regime in Havana is," said Bolton.
"It is an ideological tick and the president has given political legitimacy to the Castro regime. He's thrown them an economic lifeline and gotten essentially nothing in return," he added.
Bolton says Cuba will not interpret this shift as an imperative to respect the human rights of its people. Instead, he says the Castros see it as nothing more than a badly needed infusion of money.
"What they wanted was a little relief temporarily. It's no indication they're going to change fundamentally or that any other of these regimes will change as well. In fact, the signal that is sent internationally is that if you're an adversary of the United States and you want something from us, you've got the next two years to get it," said Bolton.
According to Bolton, Obama is actually limited in what he can do on his own. In the 1990s, Congress codified the trade and travel embargoes, meaning lawmakers would have to reverse them as well. Bolton stresses, however, that the damage extends far beyond those policies.
"The damage comes from the signal it sends to foreign governments. Basically, the embargo was an important political signal to people to say, 'Don't get too close to Cuba or you're going to have consequences in your relationship with the United States.' Now the signal from Obama is that we don't care and I think that will benefit Cuba enormously from investment elsewhere in the hemisphere, from Europe, from China, from Russia," said Bolton.
In addition to his time representing the United States at the UN, Bolton also served in the State Department. He says the U.S. has always employed a longstanding rule of dealing with adversaries that Obama seems to be ignoring.
"Negotiation is not an end in itself. This issue is does the outcome of the negotiation benefit the United States," he said.
Bolton says throughout the Cold War, Republican and Democratic presidents usually engaged the Soviets only when the conditions tilted in America's favor. He believes Obama has the wind at his back in this situation but insists on the U.S. getting the raw end of the deal.
"The Obama administration has negotiated in case after case from a position of strength and giving everything away," said Bolton.
Other statements offered as facts in Obama's speech on Wednesday also frustrate Bolton, who alleges they're just not true. First, he disputes Obama's contention that the embargo against Cuba has failed.
"I believe the embargo has been a success. It was never designed to overthrow the Castro regime. It was put in in 1959. If that were the objective, why did President Eisenhower plan and President Kennedy implement in 1961 what became known as the Bay of Pigs invasion, which was obviously designed to overthrow Castro. If they thought the embargo was going to do that, they needn't have planned the invasion," said Bolton.
Another issue that rankles Bolton was Obama's multiple mentions of Cuban animosity toward the U.S. because our history of colonizing it. He says history proves that never happened.
"He referred to American colonialism, which would be news to President McKinley and others in 1898 who fought with the Cuban people against Spain to liberate Cuba," said Bolton.
Bolton says this effort to re-establish diplomatic ties also encourages more of the world's bad actors, including Cuba's Marxist friends in Venezuela and the Russians, who were already looking to revive it's military presence on the island that played host to the greatest threat of nuclear war in the twentieth century.
"All of this signals that the administration is not going to push back on that," he said.
While Obama paints diplomatic relations and canceled embargoes as the path to infusing Cuba with democratic ideals, Bolton says all this policy will do is increase the likelihood for repression to continue once the Castros are dead.
"I think it gives this dreary, authoritarian regime a lifeline to perpetuate itself, to become, after the Castros die, another Latin American dreary, authoritarian government. I really hoped that when they met the actuarial tables, that you'd have the possibility of a real representative government in Cuba. I think that has now been pushed way off into the future, which is why it's not only bad from the U.S. perspective. It's bad from the perspective of the Cuban people," said Bolton.
- Former Reagan administration Pentagon official Frank Gaffney alleges President Obama's plan to pursue normal diplomatic relations with the communist regime in Cuba is yet another example of the president "switching sides" and embracing some of our most dangerous adversaries.
On Wednesday morning, news reports announced Cuba was freeing jailed American aid worker Alan Gross after five years of captivity. Obama later addressed the nation, announcing that Gross and an imprisoned U.S. intelligence figure were released in exchange for three Cubans convicted of spying in the U.S. Obama also announced he was scrapping the longstanding policy of severed diplomatic relations with the Castro regime and pushed Congress to lift longstanding trade and travel embargoes to the island nation as well.
The reaction has been bipartisan in both directions, with Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) enthusiastically endorsing the re-establishment of diplomatic ties and the opening of a U.S. embassy in Havana. However, Cuban-Americans like Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) slammed the policy shift as a reward for Fidel and Raul Castro oppressing their people for nearly 60 years.
Gaffney says this is a terrible move by Obama but not at all surprising.
"I think this fits a larger pattern that the president has engaged in since coming to office of switching sides vis a vis America's enemies around the world and its friends. The examples of this are legion. He'd been romancing the Russians from the get-go, the Chinese, more recently Iran and now, of course, Cuba," said Gaffney, who also cited Obama's friendliness with non-state belligerents like Hamas, the Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood.
But why now? Gaffney says it's to throw the Castros a lifeline.
"The Cubans are in desperate straits again. They, of course, lost their principal life support when the Soviet Union collapsed after President Reagan essentially took them down," said Gaffney.
He says Cuba struggled mightily to find new benefactors and now they are in trouble too.
"They found (late Venezuelan President) Hugo Chavez to keep the Castro regime a going concern. He's gone of course. Now, under his successor, the Venezuelan government is bankrupt and with the plummeting price of oil, neither the Russians nor the Venezuelans nor the Iranians are in a position to pick up the slack," said Gaffney, who alleges Obama came to the rescue of a communist regime in peril.
"I think that the president has stepped into the breach to save the Castro brothers and their oppressive, authoritarian and communist dictatorship," said Gaffney. "[Obama] thinks that switching sides across the board is, if not in the interests of the United States, is consistent at least with his ambition fundamentally to transform this country."
Gaffney says Obama's track record is clear in warming up to Russia and now easing sanctions against Iran and Cuba. He notes that Obama will probably sign pending sanctions against Venezuela and the timing of the new Cuba policy will allow American money to flow into Cuba and on to Venezuela.
In his statement Wednesday, Obama said the U.S. policy has been in place since before he was born and therefore needed to change. He also argued that a more open diplomatic and economic relationship will be a good thing for the American and Cuban people because the previous policy never achieved it's intended goals.
According to Gaffney, the refusal of many other nations to shun the Cuban regime did weaken the impact of our policy, but he says it was still effective enough to keep the Castros in check.
"It is a principled position that has materially restricted the danger that the Castros have been able to pose to our interests and our friends in this hemisphere," said Gaffney. "[The new policy] is a betrayal of the people of Cuba, who I believe yearn for freedom and have been denied it as long as this president has been alive."
Obama also contends that a closer relationship with Cuba will lead to the exporting of freedom and will empower the people to demand a better government. He cited the impact American outreach to China has had on our influence on that culture over the past 40 years.
Gaffney says China is a great example of what we don't want to re-create.
"Engagement with China has given rise to a nation that is now eating our lunch economically, has largely decimated our industrial base and is accruing a military capacity to threaten us both in the region and even here at home," said Gaffney.
Moreover, he says engagement with China has not led to less repression of the people.
"If that's the model, it will not produce transparency. It will produce a greater and more extended period of time, under which people who hate this country are able to remain in power and people who would love to be friends of this country remain repressed," he said.
- Many Republicans are furious at Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) for demanding a vote related to the president's unilateral action on immigration and allegedly aiding lame duck Senate Democrats with their agenda, but Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli calls such criticism a "canard" and lauds the senators for standing up for the Constitution.
Cuccinelli served as Virginia attorney general from 2010-2014 and was defeated for governor in 2013. Senate Conservatives Fund is loathed by most mainstream Republicans, since the group has recruited and endorsed conservative challengers to GOP incumbents in recent cycles.
On Friday, the Senate was going through a series of motions to set up debate on the so-called "cromnibus" spending bill that funds most areas of government through September 2015 but forces a debate over money for Homeland Security in February. Sen. Lee unexpectedly objected, forcing senators back to Washington for weekend debate and a setting up a vote on the constitutionality of Obama's immigration policy sponsored by Sen. Cruz.
In response, Reid not only called the Senate into a rare weekend session, but also adjusted the rest of the schedule for the lame duck session to focus on confirming controversial Obama nominees. Many Republicans are livid at Lee and Cruz for demanding a vote they say the GOP cannot win in a Democratic Senate and for giving Reid motivation to approve nominees who would not have been confirmed.
"That's a canard and the people making it know it," said Cuccinelli. "The notion that one shouldn't fight to protect the Constitution in the acts of Congress is pretty appalling and God forbid we make them do it on a Saturday and stay late. That was really childish and sort of disgusting to watch."
However, the actions taken by many in the GOP last weekend was far worse than the rhetoric aimed at their conservative colleagues.
"What was even more disgusting is the 20 Republicans who didn't vote with Ted Cruz to declare the president's executive amnesty unconstitutional, even though in the last six weeks they've all said it is. Heritage Action has done a good job of compiling their statements to that effect and yet they voted the other way, probably because they were upset about being dragged in on a Saturday," said Cuccinelli.
After a very dramatic effort to pass the "cromnibus" and avoid a government shutdown in the House two days earlier, Senate leaders in both parties were eager to avoid another funding cliffhanger. Cuccinelli sees that as another GOP failure and says his group will remember this vote when it evaluates Senate races in the future.
"For those of us who care about the Constitution, that vote looms large. For people who just cared about whether the bill passed or not, it was a speed bump on the way," said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli is also fighting back against the assertion that the vote on the Cruz point of order was meaningless because it couldn't pass. He says if Republicans had put principle over expediency, the vote could have put Democrats in a very awkward political position.
"The Republicans didn't band together to force the Democrats to actually vote on the underlying issue and that is the funding of the president's executive amnesty. A lot of people said there's no way Republicans could win that. I don't believe that. If Democrats actually had to go on the board on that issue exclusively, a lot of Democrats would have been in very difficult political territory," said Cuccinelli.
More Obama nominees have been confirmed over the past few days, including Dr. Vivek Murthy, who was confirmed as Surgeon General despite his activism on gun control issues. However, Cuccinelli rejects the accusation that Cruz and Lee are responsible for Murthy and other questionable nominees getting through.
"(Majority Leader Harry) Reid had every intention of pushing the nominees that he moved forward because he had to fill the clock this week. Literally right now, at this moment while you and I are talking, was the original plan for Reid. That wasn't going anywhere and that didn't change. He just changed where on the schedule he did that," said Cuccinelli.
The actions by Cruz and Lee followed on the heels of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) trying to rally opposition to the "cromnibus" because of changes to the Dodd-Frank laws. Cuccinelli says Warren received the same response from her leadership and Cruz and Lee did from theirs because establishment instincts run deep in both parties.
"There is, unfortunately, in this country, a cabal of the leadership of both parties that doesn't really care about the little guy, doesn't care about the middle class," said Cuccinelli.
"You know it was interesting to watch Elizabeth Warren fight over a banking provision, where the taxpayers are now on the hook for derivative trades with big banks. Nobody who cares about individual taxpayers and individual Americans should actually disagree with Elizabeth Warren. She was right. But it's more of the corporatist mentality in the establishment leadership of both parties that brushed aside concerns like that," he said.
In the four years since Republicans won control of the House of Representatives but Democrats maintained a majority in the Senate, GOP leaders repeatedly stated there was only so much the party could do with a Democrat in the White House and Reid running the Senate. However, they promised big changes if Republicans were to control the Senate. That will happen come January and Cuccinelli says Senate Conservatives Fund will be looking for a very early sign that leadership plans to pursue conservative policies.
"They're at least going to have to deliver to the president a complete repeal of Obamacare, which they all campaigned on, and watch what the president does. The notion that we're going to do the president's bidding for him (and) we're not going to send him bills he doesn't like because he might veto them is ludicrous. It literally abandons one's own voice in the process. If that's the case, what did we vote for on November 4?" said Cuccinelli.
While legislative business will happen under GOP control across Capitol Hill next year, the work in Washington will soon be overshadowed by the 2016 presidential race. Candidates are already jockeying for position even though no one has formally entered the race. Cuccinelli expects a spirited GOP primary, but urges Republican voters to choose a conservative nominee if they want to be celebrating come November 2016.
"In my lifetime, and I was born after Barry Goldwater, 100 percent of Republican nominees for president who ran as conservatives won. One hundred percent. And a hundred percent of Republican nominees for president who ran as not conservatives lost, a hundred percent. The most electable candidate is a movement conservative," said Cuccinelli.
- Terrorism expert Dr. Walid Phares says the terrorism that unfolded in an Australian cafe is indicative of Islamic terrorist groups focusing on much smaller targets rather than massive events like 9/11 and he says politically correct commentary during and after the crisis only makes the threat worse.
Phares is a longtime professor of Middle East studies and is currently an adviser to the U.S. Congress on the Middle East and terrorism. His latest book is entitled, "The Lost Spring."
Over 17 hours, a terrorist eventually identified as Mon Haron Monis held numerous people hostage at a Sydney, Australia, cafe and chocolate shop. After 17 hours, police stormed the cafe. Monis was killed but is believed to have killed two hostages before police stopped him. Phares says terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are encouraging followers to carry out simple plots like this as opposed to grand schemes to kill hundreds of people.
"What we see now is the infamous doctrine, which has been pushed by Al Qaeda and applied by ISIS, is death by a million cuts," sais Phares. "You don't have to have large operations involving large cells or multiple individuals. What you have to have is one jihadist. That person doesn't need to be connected to the organization. All that is needed is to inspire that person, to have indoctrinated that person or self-indoctrinated."
According to Phares, both Al Qaeda and ISIS have issued statements in the past several months encouraging so-called lone wolf attacks against the United States and our western allies in an effort to end all western military action in Iraq and Syria. He says both groups have standing orders to carry out terrorism like the hostage crisis in Sydney.
The standoff took on a new dimension when Monis covered much of the front window with a black flag with Arabic writing. Media in Australia, the U.S. and beyond immediately urged viewers not to jump to conclusions about the motivation behind the attack. Phares says the mystery over motive was erased as soon as the flag went up.
"Where's the message? The flag is the message. Only the jihadists will use the flag in a violent action, not the Boy Scouts," said Phares.
"They panicked when they saw the flag and said this was ISIS. In fact, this is a jihadi flag. It would apply to Al Qaeda. It would apply to Ansar al-Sharia. It would apply to ISIS. In this case, as I have studied well, it would even apply to the other side of the Sunni jihadists to the Shia jihadists, such as Hezbollah," said Phares.
The flag's universal symbol of jihad is especially significant, given that Monis has dabbled on both sides of Islam's most contentious divide.
"Yes he was born and raised as a Shia Iranian. He came to Australia and then he shifted. He became a Salafist according to his own website. So he's a very strange bird, who has mutated from one side to the other side of jihadism. The result is the same. He believes in the general action against the West, against Australia and against, of course, what he considers the enemy of the caliphate or the enemies of the jihadists," said Phares.
Just as infuriating to Phares as the media's head-scratching over the motive behind the attacks is the instant hyperbole over the need to stop any anti-Muslim backlash.
"The problem with uninformed, naive or misled reactions is that they create the backlash before it's created. They start to talk about Islamophobia and backlash against communities before this even happens," said Phares, who says the strongest backlash against radical Muslims is often from their own neighbors in Middle Eastern countries.
In the hours since the hostage crisis began, activists on all sides have discussed their ideas for preventing future events like this. On the topic of guns, gun rights groups say more individual rights would put people in a better position to stop a lone gunman before they can do any serious damage. Gun control groups assert that more restrictions would stop people like Monis, who had a lengthy criminal record, from obtaining a weapon. Still others fear thick security could become commonplace at public gathering places if these sorts of attacks increase in frequency.
Phares says none of those are the first line of defense.
"Education, education, education. Before looking at guns, before looking at law enforcement, before looking at anything else, we need to educate our public. We need the President of the United States to deliver a speech on what this ideology is. We need Congress to legislate," said Phares.
"Once that is done, then each has homework to do. Law enforcement are focusing on one issue. Civil society is part of it, and of course we're going to have NGOs of moderate Muslims who will go against the jihadists. It's a whole construct. Unfortunately, the leadership, the president and the executive branch, are not on the same page of this strategy as of now," he said.
- The House of Representatives avoided a government shutdown Thursday night, but Rep. Tom McClintock says it came at the cost of letting the outgoing Senate Democratic majority have control over government spending for nine months after they lose power and he says Republicans relinquished their strongest weapon for confronting President Obama's immigration actions in the new Congress.
"This was a huge surrender of the prerogatives of the Congress to bring this administration under control, which is what the American people clearly voted for us to do when we saw a nine seat shift toward the Republicans in the U.S. Senate," said McClintock.
On Thursday night, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted 219-206 to approve a $1.1 trillion spending package that funds most of the federal government until the end of September 2015. However, it only extends funding for the Department of Homeland Security until February. The combination of an omnibus bill and a continuing resolution was tagged as a "cromnibus" bill. Nearly seventy conservatives voted against the plan. Fifty votes from Democrats put supporters over the top after heavy lobbying from President Obama and the decision of House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) to back it.
McClintock says the "cromnibus" strategy never made any sense to him. He and other conservatives preferred a short continuing resolution into next year so Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress could lead the way on spending.
"Instead of negotiating with the new Republican Senate that has has the imprimatur of approval of the American people, they decided they'd get a better deal, I don't know why, by negotiating with Harry Reid, (outgoing Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman) Barbara Mikulski and the Democratic Senate that voters just thoroughly repudiated," said McClintock, who says those rejected leaders have largely handcuffed Republicans for most of 2015.
"So now, the cold, dead hand of Harry Reid and the Democratic Senate will be steering the new Republican Congress' spending priorities for the first nine months of the new Republican Congress," he said.
According to McClintock, the rationale for the "cromnibus" strategy offered to him by GOP leaders was that they didn't want "fiscal distractions" interfering with policy priorities like approving the Keystone XL Pipeline in January.
"First of all, these are not fiscal distractions. This is the entire spending plan of the United States government. There's nothing more fundamental than that. Secondly, there's no reason why you couldn't take up issues like Keystone at the same time," said McClintock.
Leadership has argued that passing all funding for the rest of the fiscal year except for the Department of Homeland Security will allow Republicans to fight tooth and nail against what they see as Obama's unconstitutional amnesty afforded to some five million people in the country illegally. McClintock says that's unlikely to work either.
"The problem is Homeland Security funds the entire border security programs such as it is. That's a hostage we're not going to shoot, so why would we want to choose a strategy that would require us to shoot a hostage that we're not going to shoot," he said, arguing that this approach only makes it harder to thwart Obama's actions.
"It makes no sense. Had we maintained the choice over all of the budget we would have been in a much stronger bargaining position. I think this has greatly weakened out bargaining position going into that discussion in February," said McClintock.
The congressman says the Republican approach should have been a simple continuing resolution lasting only a few weeks until the Republican majority takes hold in the Senate.
"The better way to go was simply to adopt a three or four-week continuing resolution to keep the government open, put all the appropriations questions into the new Senate that's just been freshly approved by voters so that their priorities can be accurately reflected in the spending plan that will be locked in until October 1 of next year," said McClintock.
Some of the greatest drama in the House played out during the vote for the rule allowing debate on the spending package. Normally just a formality, the vote dragged on as GOP leaders lobbied members to vote for the rule. The procedural hurdle was cleared after Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Michigan) switched his vote and Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Indiana) finally cast his ballot with leadership.
However, Stutzman later claimed he supported the rule only after leadership vowed to pull the "cromnibus" and put forward a simple short-term continuing resolution. The congressman alleges leaders reneged on that promise once Obama supported the plan and leadership concluded it could get the votes for passage from Democrats.
McClintock says he knows nothing about that squabble, but he does admit to supporting the rule, noting his general approach is to support rules to protect the power of the majority to set the agenda. But Thursday's vote is one he'd like to have back.
"In retrospect, I think the bill raised such important fiscal and constitutional issues that it shouldn't have been brought to the floor in its current form. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. Every now and then I make a bad vote. That was a bad vote and I regret it," said McClintock.
Several conservative members were seething over the tactics used by House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team to get the bill passed and made it clear they'd prefer that he wasn't speaker in the next Congress. McClintock is not happy with leadership but says making a change is easier said than done.
"The problem with replacing John Boehner as speaker is you have to have a replacement that is competent to take that role. The problem is the people who were competent to replace Boehner were not willing to do so and the people willing to replace Boehner were not competent to do so," said McClintock.
The congressman noted that no one inside the House GOP Conference challenged Boehner for the post last month. McClintock believes any challenge to Boehner going forward should play out in the conference and not on the House floor during the vote for Speaker of the House next month.