Matt Vespa - It’s Official: Rubio Is Not Running For Re-Election
Posted: 5/27/2016 10:15:00 PM EST

After much speculation, former 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is not running for re-election. He said he might have considered it more seriously if his friend–Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera—wasn’t running. Heat Street was on a conference call with Rubio and Lopez-Cantera, where the Florida Senator urged the top donors present to back the lieutenant governor in the Senate primary:

Despite rampant speculation that Sen. Marco Rubio was reconsidering running for reelection to his Senate seat, the Florida Senator intends to keep his word and leave at the end of his term. In fact, Rubio was on a phone call with major donors Friday morning to urge them to support his friend, Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Heat Street has learned.

The call was hosted by Trey Traviesa, who served in the Florida House of Representatives when Rubio was Speaker. Traviesa has been a long-time fixture in Rubio’s fundraising circles and was also a member of Mitt Romney’s national finance team.

Both Rubio and Lopez-Cantera were on the call. Two sources close to Rubio confirmed to Heat Street that Rubio was on the call to make it clear that he was not running for reelection and to urge the donors to support Lopez-Cantera financially. ”He was pitching CLC [the nickname for Lopez-Cantera] hard to these guys,” one source told us, laughing at how the call was taking place at the same time as media stories were flooding social media that Rubio was thinking of getting back in the race.

According to our sources, Rubio described to the donors how critical Florida would be to keep the Republican majority in the Senate, and said that Lopez-Cantera was the Republican candidate best suited to win in November. Heat Street has been unable to confirm the identities of the major donors who were on the call, but they are reportedly heavy hitters in the Republican fundraising world, and Rubio encouraged them to do everything they could to raise as much as possible for Lopez-Cantera.

Street added that Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, and even Donald Trump, have been urging Rubio to run for his seat this year, but apparently to no avail. Now, Rubio said he’s pretty much on the Trump train, even throwing the possibility of speaking at the Republican National Convention on the billionaire real estate magnate’s behalf (via USA Today):

This past week, the Florida senator told reporters he’ll not only vote for Trump, he'd be willing to speak on his behalf at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer. And he didn’t rule out the possibility of serving in a Trump administration.

Rubio said his apparent shift isn't that hard to understand. Supporting Trump as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is an easy choice, he said, compared to the prospect of a Hillary Clinton victory at the polls in November.

"Donald Trump will sign the repeal of Obamacare. She won’t," Rubio told reporters Thursday. "I want the successor to Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court to be a conservative. I believe that’s the kind of judge that he’ll appoint, and I know she won’t. I want someone that will defend life. I know he will and she won’t."

Rubio said Trump earned his status as the GOP presumptive nominee at the ballot box.

"He campaigned and the voters chose him," he said. "I respect that process. And so I’m going to support him. I’m going to vote for him.”

Rubio took some serious flak for the reversal. Yet, is he wrong? I was never a Trump supporter, even saying that the billionaire would never win the nomination, let alone the general election. Oh my have the tables have turned—but that’s politics. At times, things don’t go your way. Republican primary voters have spoken and they want Trump. These are the cards we’ve been dealt. Again, you don’t have to support Trump right now. Some may never support Trump, but at least we can agree that we’re all anti-Hillary, right? I don’t know if I can take the plunge for Trump. It’s a debate that might rage until Election Day, and this goes for a rather substantial proportion of the GOP. What I don’t think is helpful is for the party to engage in this unicorn search of finding someone to mount a third party bid. It’s going to split the party, and more critically, waste valuable time attack Hillary. Can that be the détente position? You don’t have to back Trump, but you should do everything you can to defeat Hillary Clinton. The other part of that equation can be decided, in private, in the ballot box on Election Day.

Matt Vespa - Sanders, Radio Hosts Get Into Testy Exchange Over Whether A Left Wing Agenda Can Work When Government Is So Bad
Posted: 5/27/2016 7:45:00 PM EST

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump are making the rounds in California ahead of the June 7 primary. Trump has already clinched the Republican nomination, but Sanders and Clinton are still duking it out, despite the fact that Clinton is the likely nominee. Yet, as Sanders campaigns throughout the Golden State, the hosts of the John and Ken Show on KFI Radio got into a rather testy exchange with Sanders over his agenda and the efficiency of government in a recent interview that was transcribed by Buzzfeed.

The hosts noted that Sanders platform is far left, dotted with items like free college and universal health care. But they’re main question was how is this going to work, let alone garnering more support for these programs, when you hear stories about the inexcusable waiting times (and appalling care) at Veterans Affairs, along with the pervasive failure over at the Transportation Security Administration. Some of these security lines have resulted in travelers waiting hours to be screened prior to boarding. Airlines are not happy with the deteriorating situation. Recently, a top official dealing with was removed from his position as head of security for the TSA, though he had collected $90,000 in bonuses despite no improvements with the security line situation.

The impetus for the heated exchange was connected to a question asked concerning Sanders calling out Disney CEO Bob Iger for not paying his workers a living wage. Iger, a Clintons supporter, responded of Facebook, noting that that Disney has created thousands of jobs in the U.S.—and asked the self-described Democratic socialist what he has done to improve the U.S. economy, which has been minimal to say the least. The hosts then asked Sanders

HOST: “You didn’t answer the main question about what jobs have you created. It’s pretty vague, your background. What have you done in your life?”

SANDERS: There’s nothing vague—

HOST: I’m not really clear on what kind of jobs you’ve had, besides Senator.

SANDERS: I have been in the U.S. House of representatives and actually before that, I was a mayor of 8 years. You ever been to Burlington, VT?

HOST: Yeah, but have you ever not been paid by taxpayers?

SANDERS: All right, look, if you don’t like government my friend, that’s fine. I’m proud of the record I’ve established as a mayor, making Burlington, VT, one of the more beautiful small cities in America, proud of my record in the House, proud of my record in the United States Senate. You don’t like government? That’s your point of view. I am proud of what I have accomplished.

HOST: All right, let me ask you about that because obviously your proposals expand government a lot, cost a lot of money, when it comes to free health care, free college educations, when we look at the government and we see the VA feeding cockroaches to veterans in Chicago—

BERNIE: All right, you know—

HOST: We see the TSA—

BERNIE: Hold on—

HOST: What is it that you see about the government that we don’t between let’s say the TSA and the VA for example?

BERNIE: What I see is—apparently you love the work that Wall Street is doing—

HOST: No, no, you’re generalizing.

BERNIE: Wait a second! Can I respond to you?

HOST: No, we don’t, but you’re generalizing, that’s not fair. What do you know about us?

SANDERS: Why did you just—you just told me that the VA is feeding cockroaches. I was chairman of the Veterans committee. Millions of veterans every day are getting high-quality, uh, health care. Now, in some instances, the health care is inadequate and people are doing a bad job—of course, it’s a huge healthcare system. You don’t think that happens in private hospitals? You don’t think that happens in private doctor’s offices? So the answer is, yeah, if the question is, do I believe that government should play an important role in making sure that elderly people can live in dignity so that we have decent social—

HOST: That wasn’t my question!

SANDERS: Excuse me! Can I—excuse me!

HOST: My question was about—

SANDERS: Wait a minute, you know, you invited me on the program. And I’m happy to be on the program. And I’d like to answer your questions, but I have to respond. I do believe that government should make sure that all of our people earn a decent minimum wage by raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. Yeah I do believe the United States should join every other major country on earth in guaranteeing health care to all people.

HOST: My question about the VA was, it’s pretty clear from the scandal the last couple of years that the veterans are waiting weeks and sometimes months. Sometimes, they’re dying before they get an appointment and sometimes the supervisors are lying about the waiting lists and lying about the response time. And in Chicago, they’re breathing in black mold at the nursing home and they’re being served cockroaches. It seems like there’s a lot of dysfunction spread around the country. What I want to know is, it would help get more support for your ideas if we saw the TSA running properly, the VA running properly, and similar agencies that the public has to deal with.

SANDERS: Well, I think it goes without saying that we want all of our government agencies to run as cost-effectively and as efficiently and as well as possible.

HOST: Why don’t they?

SANDERS: Excuse me. But if you all think that the private sector today is doing just a great job, let’s talk about Wall Street’s greed which drove this country into the worst economic recession and the fraud, the rampant fraud that exists on Wall Street who paid $5 billion, Goldman Sachs paid $5 billion to the government as a settlement because they were selling worthless subprime mortgage packages. You can talk about corporations that are shutting down all over America and moving to China where they pay people a few bucks an hour and bring their products back into this country.

Sanders then said he had to run, but hoped to continue this discussion at a later date. The total cost of Sanders’ agenda is a staggering $33 trillion over the next ten years, which would add $21 trillion to the national debt. Oh, and the projected $15.3 trillion in tax increases aren’t going to be enough to pay for this left wing goodie bag.

Matt Vespa - Huh? MSNBC's Brian Williams Says We Dropped Atomic Bombs On Japan 'In Anger'
Posted: 5/27/2016 6:32:00 PM EST

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell discussed President Obama’s speech at Hiroshima, where he said, “death fell from the sky,” and where he hoped for a nuclear-free world. It was the first time a sitting president had visited the city, which we decimated in one of two atomic bombings during World War II that ended with Japan surrendering to the United States, ending humanity’s most destructive war.

Mitchell referenced the work of former U.S. Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Sam Nunn (D-GA) for their work in trying to curb the spread of nuclear material, where Brian Williams added that we used nuclear weapons against Japan “in anger” (via NewsBusters):

ANDREA MITCHELL: And Brian, just a word to two men that you knew very well, Dick Lugar and Sam Nunn, the fact that they had this nuclear threat initiative and that they controlled through a bipartisan act of Congress, controlled the spread of nuclear materials, non-state actors and materials even in this age of terror, all these decades after the end of the Cold War is just remarkable and I don't think they get enough credit for it.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: It is and that is still the threat that people worry about that this material will fall into the wrong hands. If people have found the U.S. to be preachy in the years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki about the use of weapons, it’s because we’re the only nation to have used them in anger. Sometimes, I am amazed that the world has been without these weapons all the years since, but it is a point of, a great pride by the people who have seen to it.

Mitchell then thanked Williams, and NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss, for “helping us understanding the context better.” Beschloss had compared Obama’s speech to John F. Kennedy’s 1963 address at American University. Both the United States and the then-Soviet Union were discussing whether to implement a nuclear test ban treaty.

Yet, the notion that anger was the motivating factor in dropping atomic bombs is nonsense. We did it to end the war. Period. Williams previously stated on the broadcast that between 300,000 to 1 million Japanese were killed in the serial and incessant bombing campaigns we conducted throughout the country prior to dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One could make the argument, like the late Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, that proportionality should have been considered prior to the use of nuclear weapons. Of course, I disagree. I’ve already written about the outrageous casualty projections made at the time by the Joint War Plans Committee for our planned ground invasion (Operation Downfall) of the island nation, which would have soared into the hundreds of thousands for our forces—and into the millions for the Japanese. The atomic bombings were conducted to save lives and end a horrible war. It was a moral act. Given that Obama’s visit has somewhat rehashed the debate as to whether nuking Japan was necessary, are liberals more disconcerted about the method in which we decided to end 262,000 Japanese lives, or is it the death toll itself?

Again, if liberals and historical revisionists are aghast at the death toll from just the atomic bombings, they seem to forget the 300,000 to a million that were killed prior to Hiroshima and Nagasaki through our sustained air campaigns. At least 100,000 men, women, and children were killed when we firebombed Tokyo in March of 1945—where’s the outrage over that act? When you take a look at the casualty estimates for the ground invasion, the very conservative ones show that over 1.2 million Japanese and American lives were saved through the atomic bombings. How is that immoral? It is not.

We should never be apologetic, hesitant, or ashamed, at using weapons at our disposal that bring wars to a swift end.

Christine Rousselle - Friday Fun: National Spelling Bee Recap
Posted: 5/27/2016 4:00:00 PM EST

Last night was the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and for the third year in a row, it ended in a tie. Eleven year-old Nihar Janga and Jairam Hathwar, 13, tied to share the highest honor in spelling after Janga nailed "gesellschaft" and Hathwar got through "Feldenkrais." At this point in the competition, the list of words had been exhausted and co-champions were declared.

This was Janga's first year at the Bee. Hathwar's brother Sriram was co-champion at the 2014 Bee.

Of course, half the fun of the Bee is the drama of the competition, and this year didn't disappoint. Between the dab, an Adele reference, and a few other lighthearted antics, this year's Bee was full of moments nearly designed to go viral.

Still, silliness aside, the competition was fierce and nail-biting. Janga could have clinched a solo victory twice, but tripped up on spelling "ayacahuite" and "tetradrachm," meaning the competition would continue.

Despite the fact that Bee organizers had changed the rules to attempt to prevent ties after the back-to-back tie finishes of the 2014 and 2015 bees, the list of championship words was no match for Hathwar and Janga. The two competed for nearly three full hours.

Perhaps the most talked-about moments at the Bee were Janga's antics. After clapping in Hathwar's face when he missed a word...

The Texas native threw up the "X" (reminiscent of Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant) to celebrate his victory.

Bryant approved.

Off the stage, the Scripps official Twitter account was having quite a bit of fun. Their correction of a troll's attempt to mock the Bee went viral and the user eventually deactivated their account.

Next year's Bee will be held in late May.

Katie Pavlich - Bernie Sanders Asked About Failures of Socialism in Venezuela and Refuses to Comment
Posted: 5/27/2016 3:50:00 PM EST

It's no surprise Democrat Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is an advocate of socialism. He's openly advocated for socialist policies on the 2016 campaign trail and back in the 1980s, Sanders argued bread lines are a sign of economic progress. 

"You know, it's funny. Sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is when people are lining up for food. That's a good thing. In other countries, people don't line up for food. The rich get the food and the poor starve to death," Sanders lamented at the time. 

But now that Venezuelan socialism is leading to the downfall of the country, with citizens hunting dogs and cats for food as the government fails to equally provide, Sanders doesn't have much to say. 

During an interview with Univision this week, Sanders was specifically asked about the current failing of socialist systems throughout South America. Sanders avoided commenting. MRC has the video and transcript: 

LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: I am sure that you know about this topic: various leftist governments, especially the populists, are in serious trouble in Latin America. The socialist model in Venezuela has the country near collapse. Argentina, also Brazil, how do you explain that failure?

BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: You are asking me questions…

LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: I am sure you’re interested in that.

BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: I am very interested, but right now I’m running for President of the United States.

LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: So you don’t have an opinion about the crisis in Venezuela?

BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: Of course I have an opinion, but as I said, I’m focused on my campaign.

Sanders is focused on his campaign while Venezuelans are focused on surviving.

Matt Vespa - Univision, Telemundo Report On Venezuela’s Socialist Disaster, ABC, CBS, and NBC…Not So Much
Posted: 5/27/2016 3:35:00 PM EST

If the majority of Americans are unaware of the pending collapse of Venezuela, blame the Big Three (CBS, NBC, and ABC). They have yet to cover the economic catastrophe that’s unfolding in a nation that once prided itself as a beacon of 21st Century Socialism. Low oil prices and left wing social programs have brought on what’s increasingly becoming a humanitarian crisis that’s impacting every aspect of the country’s socioeconomic sphere. It’s truly awful. Donald Trump may have attacked Telemundo and Univision, but they have done a much better job reporting on Venezuela’s disastrous conditions. The Media Research Center crunched the numbers and found that the Hispanic news networks had between 26 to 33 minutes of coverage for the month of May, while ABC News, NBC News, and CBS News have only mentioned Venezuela in reference to the Zika virus:

Unlike their English-language counterparts at ABC, CBS and NBC, however, between May 1-23 America’s top Spanish-language television networks, Univision and Telemundo, have dedicated 33 reports and nearly an hour of coverage to the convulsive developments in one of the world’s leading oil-producing countries. And unlike both Spanish-language television networks’ coverage of domestic U.S political developments, which tends to favor the liberal Obama administration, the dominant narrative in Univision and Telemundo’s coverage of Venezuela has been decidedly hostile to the Socialist government in power.

While ABC, CBS and NBC have ignored the economic disaster in Venezuela, all three networks have only mentioned Venezuela in their coverage in the context of the Zika virus outbreak. Meanwhile, during the May 1-23 period under study, the top Spanish-language television network in the U.S., Univision, dedicated over 30 minutes of coverage to the ongoing political and social crisis in Venezuela. Almost 15 minutes of that time took place during Univision’s Sunday public affairs show, Al Punto, including an interview with Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

Specifically, Univision and Telemundo have shown their viewers the severe shortages of basic necessities like food, medicine and personal hygiene products, riots and looting around the country, as well as growing clashes between state security forces and demonstrators seeking to remove Maduro from power. This sample from Telemundo below is indicative of the coverage.

Leah Barkoukis - Liberal PAC Backs Canova Over Wasserman Schultz in Primary Race
Posted: 5/27/2016 3:07:00 PM EST

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has had a tough week. First, Democratic candidate for president Bernie Sanders endorsed her primary challenger and helped fundraise for him, then there were reports that some congressional Democrats wanted her out of her position as DNC chair before the nominating convention in July.

Now, progressive PAC Democracy for America has also thrown its support behind her primary challenger, Tim Canova.

“DFA members are backing Tim Canova in this race for Congress, not for who he supports or who supports him, but because he has spent his life challenging the power of Wall Street banks, multinational corporations, and the systemic political corruption that keeps them profitable at the expense of everyone else,” DFA Chairman Jim Dean said in a statement.

“Simply put,” he continued, “if Democrats are going to be the party that confronts the wealthy and powerful who dominate our political process and enable growing income inequality, we need political revolutionaries like Tim Canova in the U.S. Congress.”

Canova welcomed the endorsement.

“DFA members in our district are overwhelming in support of our campaign. They understand that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has failed us by standing with Republicans and corporate interests against the people of South Florida,” he said. “This district deserves a nominee who will stand with working Americans, not wealthy elites. I'm glad to have them on board as we continue to build a grass-roots campaign that believes in progress for all.”

Based on their reasons for supporting Canova, it’s not surprising that DFA has also endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential contest. 

Christine Rousselle - The Week in Cartoons
Posted: 5/27/2016 3:00:00 PM EST

This past week was certainly an interesting one. From the arrival of a superbug to concerns over Zika to a bizarre comparison of lines at the VA to waiting for Space Mountain, it was full of bizarre headlines. In addition to all of this, the 2016 election chugged along per usual.

Here are the ten best cartoons to sum it all up:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

Matt Vespa - Venezuelan Socialism Is So Great That Starving People Are Now Eating From Garbage Cans
Posted: 5/27/2016 2:50:00 PM EST

Fox Business’ Elizabeth McDonald has obtained some horrifying footage of hungry Venezuelans eating from the garbage, as the nation continues its death spiral brought on by a dependence on oil and socialist tendencies. In April, the nation’s chamber of food noted that food producers had about 15 days of inventory left. Mass looting of supermarkets has ensued. It’s become so bad that there are reports of Venezuelans hunting dogs, cats, and birds for sustenance. Rolling blackouts are common, which has impacted hospitals, which lack basic medical supplies, including soap and gloves. Things have become so bad that dead and dying babies are becoming the norm.

Now, on top of hungry Venezuelans prying into trashcans, the nation could be on the verge of defaulting on its massive debt (via Fox Business):

People in the nation’s capital, Caracas, have resorted to eating and fighting over old food thrown away in garbage bags outside shopping malls where restaurants are located.

"They're ripping through garbage bags searching for food, the government says this is not happening, but we are very hungry here in Venezuela," says a male bystander on camera. A local says: "We are starving, we are eating dog food and food meant for farm animals."

Another video shows drivers in Venezuela pulling over to join in the ambush and looting off grocery trucks. That is what happened on the national highway to Puerto Ordaz, in southern Venezuela, where the country's largest oil reserve and a major steel operation is located. The National Guard is shown on camera standing back, not doing anything.

"People are starving, the last resort for them is to loot and steal rice," one bystander says on camera. "The National Guard is here but no one is paying any attention to them at all, they're letting it happen."

[…]

The situation in Venezuela is growing more desperate by the hour as its unraveling socialist economy is trapped in a debt vice. The collapse in oil prices has Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, the handpicked successor of Hugo Chavez, desperately fighting to avoid a default on its $185 billion in debt. Wall Street and government sources indicate that would be the largest default in history, with Venezuela’s debt about double the roughly $100 billion in debt Argentina had when it defaulted in 2001. Estimates of the amount of assets and reserves remaining in Venezuela that could be used to pay back its debt have ranged from Bank of America Corp.’s $50 billion to as low as Nomura Holdings’ $10 billion. Venezuela’s foreign reserves have sunk to their lowest levels in 13 years.

Law and order has reportedly broke down, with children’s lunches being stolen by hungry “thugs.” Coca-Cola has halted production due to a sugar shortage—and toilet paper has become a luxury item. It’s just a complete mess.

Katie Pavlich - Surprise: Media Ignores, Makes Excuses For Katie Couric's Deceptive Edit to Make Gun Owners Look Bad
Posted: 5/27/2016 2:46:00 PM EST

Earlier this week Washington Free Beacon reporter Stephen Gutowski busted longtime liberal activist and journalist Katie Couric for deceptively editing video in her new documentary, Under the Gun, to make gun owners look uninformed. She also framed them as supporters of terrorists and felons. 

As a reminder, from Couric's film: 

What actually happened: 

Couric is refusing to apologize for the move, as is her producer and the rest of the Under the Gun team. Couric's friends in the media are also giving her cover. 

According to the Media Research Center,  ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC all ignored the story. Fox News covered it. 

The New York Times refused to acknowledge the obvious edit:

I'll leave you with this:

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