Guy Benson - Poll: Hillary 37, Trump 35, Romney 22
Posted: 5/24/2016 10:25:00 AM EST

Having evidently failed to help recruit a serious third-party challenger to the extraordinarily weak Trump/Hillary dichotomy, former GOP nominee Mitt Romney is facing increasing pressure to take the plunge himself.  Click through and read those pieces, and you'll find cogent, earnest supplications from conservatives who are horrified by Trump -- and whose interest is piqued by a recent raft of polling data suggesting that the voting public may be ripe for a mainstream independent presidential bid.  We'll take a look at some of that data shortly, but let's start with some hard reality:  A 'control-F' search for the word "deadline" within those three hyperlinked analyses turns up a sum total of zero references.  Here's why that omission matters:

From a practical standpoint, it's getting awfully late to jump into the presidential race. The filing deadline to make the November ballot has already passed in Texas, the most Republican of the big states, and other deadlines are fast approaching. Ballot access has long been one of the biggest impediments to a viable third-party bid. The Democratic and Republican parties are quite content with their duopoly and haven't made it easier for others to compete.

I understand that the #NeverTrump third party theory rests on the idea that a Romneyesque figure could peel off just enough electoral votes to deny both Trump and Clinton the 270 electoral votes required to secure the presidency. According to the constitution, this scenario would send the decision into the Republican-held House of Representatives. So the Texas deadline expiring isn't a deal-breaker, theoretically, because the goal would be for an independent ticket to carry, say, a handful of states in the Midwest and Mountain West. As implausible as this scheme may sound -- and it sounds exceedingly implausible -- it's not technically impossible. Especially when you take a gander at numbers like this:

And among independent voters:

These data points come to us via the Washington Post/ABC News survey we wrote about yesterday, which also found that a sizable 44 percent contingent of registered voters would consider a third-party candidate. (FOr what it's worth, NBC/WSJ asked the same question, with nearly the same result). Romney -- who enjoys strong name recognition based on the last campaign -- is already well above the polling threshold required to secure a spot in the general election presidential debates (Libertarian Gary Johnson and his would-be running mate have cracked double-digits in another poll). WaPo's hypothetical three-way poll once again demonstrates how weak and disliked Hillary Clinton is.  Trump and Romney's combined backing would surpass her level of support by 20 points, yet splitting the anti-Clinton vote seriously risks allowing her to win the presidency with a small plurality of the popular vote. That's why the Republican Party is circling the wagons, including capitulations from even staunch Trump resisters like Sen. Lindsey Graham.  Still, given the public's longstanding and deep-seated antipathy toward both Trump and Clinton, it's not hard to see why a guy like Romney might be tempted to jump in with a splash, make a focused appeal to voters, and see what happens.  He could (probably convincingly) present himself as a center-right politician with whom many voters might have disagreements, but who is nevertheless qualified, dignified -- and neither a reckless, ignorant demagogue, nor a serially deceitful crook.  Not a terrible pitch.

But while some right-leaning Trump critics might leap at the opportunity to cast a ballot for Romney over the other two alternatives, a credible case that he could actually prevail remains elusive.  Worse, the reasonable fear that he'd guarantee a Hillary presidency is likely to worry even those who are strongly sympathetic to his cause.  Elections have been held, a decisive plurality of GOP voters have spoken, and a vast majority of the party appears to be reconciling itself to the resulting determination.  Principled holdouts will still have other options in November (e.g., the aforementioned Johnson/Weld duo), but tossing another non-Democrat option into the fray really does feel like an assist to Clinton at this stage.  On a personal level, Trumpism does not represent me in virtually any way, and I plan to cast a ballot against both Trump and Clinton in November.  But it's simply a fact that for better or worse, the Republican Party is the only viable vehicle for defeating the Left in modern American politics, and the Republican Party's voters have seen fit to make Donald Trump their standard-bearer this year.  My inclination is that it's time to allow Trumpism to sink or swim on its own.  As enticing as a Romney gambit might be for those of us who cannot fully make peace with Trump as the nominee, why hand Trump's hardcore base a ready-made excuse if he loses?  And why do anything to actively assist Hillary Clinton?  However, for a window into why 'Never Trump' efforts nevertheless persist in some righty quarters, I'll leave you with further evidence that both major party nominees are deeply invested in the same sordid system, and share many of the same sleazy friends:

And Trump is a major McAuliffe donor, because of course he is.  Pass the Pepto-Bismol.

Cortney O'Brien - ACU: Facebook Has Not Called to Apologize for Lack of CPAC Coverage
Posted: 5/24/2016 10:05:00 AM EST

Last week, the American Conservative Union declined an invitation to meet with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his team to discuss how the social media network seemingly suppressed conservative news. The meeting was a result of the Gizmodo report that revealed Facebook employees routinely prevented the rise of conservative trending topics. While several conservatives agreed to take part in the discussion at Facebook’s California headquarters, ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp explained that a single conversation is not sufficient to address how Facebook silenced news from the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Following the meeting, some of the attendees, like the Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell, were impressed by Facebook’s desire to be more transparent.

"I think this is a good step,” he said in a statement Monday. “Facebook was relying on a preponderance of liberal and leftist ‘news’ organs. By not relying on any specific news outlets, Facebook returns to its neutral roots. This is good for everyone on that platform."

ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp, however, said his organization still does not regret its decision to skip the meeting. Facebook admitting they found conservative bias in its ranks, he said, is not good enough.

"Facebook has admitted to harming CPAC, but they have not called us to apologize, and they have failed to explain what they did," Schlapp said in a statement on Tuesday. "This two-week long investigation (it’s amazing how fast an internal investigation can be conducted) seems to scratch the surface. Sen. Thune has done the right thing to press them and we urge Congress to vigorously scrutinize Facebook to prevent deceptive practices and false advertising in the future."

Schlapp is referring to Sen. John Thune’s letter to Facebook demanding the network “answer these serious allegations.”

Will a phone call be enough to assuage Schlapp's frustration?

Justin Holcomb  - Paul Ryan Gets His First Win: Bailing Out Puerto Rico
Posted: 5/24/2016 9:30:00 AM EST

Paul Ryan scored his first big so-called win on Monday as Speaker of the House.  The Democrats and Republicans have finally reached some sort agreement on whether or not to bailout the bankrupt U.S. territory Puerto Rico, according to a report from The Hill.  

The agreement to restructure the island’s $70 billion debt crisis reportedly fulfills a promise that Ryan made to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democrats during spending talks last December. 

This marks the first time that Ryan has handled such an issue by himself, without the help of John Boehner.  Ryan has helped create wins on highway, education and government funding during his short time as speaker, but former Speaker Boehner played a part in almost all of those negotiations. 

Although Ryan claims that he is not involved in the day-to-day negotiations for such appropriations, his Democratic counterparts say that there is more than he lets on.  Apparently, Pelosi and Ryan were in frequent contact throughout the entire process.

“A lot of things needed to be worked out at the leadership level,” a Democratic aide said.

Ryan has received backlash from his more conservative peers in the House of Representatives on the bailout.  However, he has apparently made special moves to ensure some conservatives wouldn’t derail the legislation. In several news conferences and statements, he aggressively refutes TV ads and media that blast the package as a taxpayer “bailout.”

Although the Puerto Rico legislation has not reached the House Floor, an agreement is expected to be made this week.   

Andre Walker - National Union of Students Collapsing After Pro-ISIS Leader Elected
Posted: 5/24/2016 9:30:00 AM EST

LONDON, United Kingdom - A third major university has voted to leave the British National Union of Students since it elected a pro-ISIS president. So far Hull, Lincoln and Newcastle have disaffiliated from the NUS since the election of Malia Bouattia, a Muslim who claimed her alma mater was a “zionist outpost.”

Ms Bouattia caused outrage across Britain when she organized the opposition to a motion condemning ISIS. At the time she claimed the motion was “Islamophobic” and would be seen as "pro-American." She won the day, because large numbers of communists on the National Executive Committee backed her position.

She is reported to have drafted a statement that read: “‘We recognize that condemnation of ISIS appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamophobia. This rhetoric exacerbates the issue at hand and in essence is a further attack on those we aim to defend.”

She followed up this success by taking the presidency of the NUS in April, from a far more moderate incumbent. According to the Huffington Post, Bouattia’s election led to immediate calls for disaffiliation from ten universities. If they all leave the NUS will become insolvent as it relies on membership fees to survive.

The President of the NUS has rarely been this high profile in the past, but concerns about Bouattia’s election has led to national and international media coverage. This was made worse when CageUK - a campaign group that supported the ISIS murderer Jihad John - publicly congratulated her on winning the presidency.

Despite her refusal to criticize the Islamic State, Bouattia has no such reservations about Israel and has been a fierce critic of the country for a number of years. She claimed the controversy around her election was a result of a campaign by “mainstream Zionist-led media.”

In the past she has also opposed the Middle East peace process claiming the talks between Israelis and Palestinians are “the strengthening of the colonial project.” Malia Bouattia claims she is not anti-semitic and is only opposed to zionism. She strongly denies claims from University Jewish Societies that she “sees a large Jewish society as a problem.”

Only one university has voted to stay in the NUS so far and that referendum was scheduled long before the Presidential election. There are allegations the motion to leave only failed because of a dirty tricks campaign by the NUS.

The campaign group ‘Exiter’ took to social media claiming members of ‘Stay With NUS’ were “running door to door harassing students.” The pro-NUS group deny the allegation, but this may not be enough to stop a second referendum at the University.

Cambridge University is voting on whether to leave the NUS today. British students are automatically enrolled in the NUS if they attend a university that is affiliated, they do have the legal right to opt out of the process but this bars them from being involved in their local student body. As a result such opt outs are rare.

Leah Barkoukis - War on DWS: Sanders Raising Money to Oust DNC Chairwoman
Posted: 5/24/2016 8:40:00 AM EST

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz probably never thought one of the Democratic candidates for president would end up targeting her in the 2016 race—but that’s exactly what’s happened.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, angry over the Democratic Party’s treatment of his campaign compared to Hillary Clinton’s, has not only endorsed Wasserman Schultz’s primary challenger, Tim Canova, he’s now also helping him fundraise.

Analysts still see Canova as a longshot bid to topple Wasserman Schultz and deny her a seventh House term. But Sanders’ intervention has given the challenger a much bigger profile, and already is helping him raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Canova -- a law professor and first-time candidate touting such progressive ideals as Wall Street and campaign finance reform -- boasted Monday that Sanders’ small-dollar fundraising blast brought in roughly $250,000.

“Like Bernie, we are running a campaign that is funded by working Americans, not corporations or wealthy elites,” Canova said. “Our political and economic systems are rigged in favor of the billionaire class and establishment politicians like Wasserman Schultz.”

In announcing his endorsement over the weekend, Sanders initially told CNN he’s backing Canova because “his views are much closer to mine than to Wasserman Schultz's." But he pulled no punches when it came to the incumbent, making clear that if elected he’d fire her as DNC chairwoman. In his Canova fundraising email, he said: "The political revolution is not just about electing a president, sisters and brothers.”

Canova told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Monday that “She’s concerned about her re-election and she should be.” But Wasserman Schultz, who won re-election in 2014 with more than 60 percent of the vote, seems unfazed.

"I am so proud to serve the people of Florida's 23rd district and I am confident that they know that I am an effective fighter and advocate on their behalf in Congress," she said in a statement.

2016 has been anything but predictable, so we’ll have to wait and see if Sanders’ efforts on behalf of Canova will pay off. 

Leah Barkoukis - IRS Employee Admits He Would Continue Targeting Conservative Groups: 'That's Just the Way It Is'
Posted: 5/24/2016 8:04:00 AM EST

As the House Judiciary Committee moves forward with the first of two hearings examining whether IRS Commissioner John Koskinen should be impeached for misconduct Tuesday, it seems the mindset that targeting conservative groups is OK has not changed one bit among some employees at the agency.

During a Washington Journal segment on C-SPAN, a self-identified IRS employee called in to tell guest Cleta Mitchell, an attorney representing targeted conservative groups, that he would continue to go after the groups she represents.

“I am a lowly clerk at the IRS, looking at your application for tax-free status,” said Bill, the caller from Elizabeth, New Jersey. “I go to your web page to see the goals of your group and one of the goals of your group is to abolish the IRS.”

“You can bet every dollar you got I’m going to go after you and target you and try and end your group and that’s just the way it is,” he continued.

Mitchell, who was on the show to discuss the possible impeachment of Koskinen, informed the caller that that type of behavior was out of line.

“Well, it shouldn’t be that way, actually, and I don’t know anybody who said they would they would get rid of the IRS, but if they did that’s their right, that’s their First Amendment right to do that,” Mitchell responded. “And a government employee is not supposed to superimpose his beliefs or his judgment or his concern about his job over those of a citizen who has a First Amendment right to express that opinion to abolish the IRS or to change the tax code.”

“Many of these groups did say they wanted lower taxes, they wanted to repeal the 16th Amendment, perhaps, that establishes the income tax,” Mitchell said.

“A government employee works for us and it’s not the government employee’s right or obligation and it’s not permissible for an IRS employee to say ‘I don’t like that group and so I’m going to try to punish them’ - that is viewpoint discrimination and it’s unconstitutional,” she said.

Matt Vespa - Iran: Our Missiles Can Totally Destroy Israel ‘In Less Than Eight Minutes’
Posted: 5/24/2016 7:30:00 AM EST

Iran claims that it can level Israel ‘in less than eight minutes,’ and the Obama administration has once again showed its penchant for fecklessness regarding the Middle East. This brazen declaration from Iranian military officials comes after their new 2,000km-range missiles that were tested over the past couple of weeks proved to be fairly accurate (via Daily Mail):

Iran has boasted it is capable of destroying Israel 'in less than eight minutes' - two weeks after testing missiles which can reach the state.

Senior military adviser Ahmad Karimpour said the country had the capacity to 'raze the Zionist regime' using the 'abilities and equipment' Iran had at its disposal.

The warning came just weeks after Iran claimed to have successfully tested 2,000km-range missiles capable of hitting Israel.

According to the Times of Israel, Karimpour - an adviser to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite unit al-Quds Force - said: 'If the Supreme Leader’s orders [are] to be executed, with the abilities and the equipment at our disposal, we will raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes.'

Earlier this month, Tehran military chiefs hailed the accuracy of a rocket it claimed could leave the Earth's atmosphere before hitting its target 'without error'.

These ballistic missile tests were part of the months-long negotiations over the nation’s nuclear program, but the U.S. and other world powers decided to water down language directed at its missile program in a way that these tests, while disconcerting, are allowed under international law (via U.S. News and World Report):

There was never any explicit linkage between Iran’s nuclear and missile programs in the negotiations with Iran and six world powers – the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. The topic of limiting Iran’s missiles came up early in the proceedings, Iran balked and the United States dropped the matter. It did not seem to be a problem, since the United Nations and other international organizations already had sets of restrictions in place. But most of those limitations were dropped under the final terms of the deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

[…]

On the same day at the U.N., U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power agreed that the missile test “merits a [Security] Council response.” But Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin objected, saying that Iran’s missile test did not violate U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which was adopted in July 2015 as part of the nuclear deal’s implementation.

Resolution 2231 rescinded six previous resolutions aimed at restricting Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. In particular, it negated Resolution 1929, which instructed that “Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities.” This language was the basis for a number of national and international missile-related sanctions.

Contrast the powerful enabling language of resolution 1929 with the feeble text that replaced it in resolution 2231: “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology, until the date eight years after the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] Adoption Day or until the date on which the [International Atomic Energy Agency] submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier.”

Under the old legal regime, Iran was told it “shall not” engage in missile programs, and member states were empowered to take “all necessary measures” to prevent missile technology transfer. Under the new deal, Iran is simply “called upon” not to continue its missile program for eight years at the most, and member states are not granted any specific powers to stop it. Somehow in the rush to reach a deal acceptable to Iran, the anti-missile language was watered down to the point of irrelevance.

[Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly] Churkin believes that this is a critical legal difference. "A call is different from a ban,” he said, “so legally you cannot violate a call, you can comply with a call or you can ignore the call, but you cannot violate a call." Power denounced this as Russia “lawyering its way to look for reasons not to act,” and a “call” versus a “ban” is a distinction without a difference.

Well, they’re doing it, and this administration doesn’t seem to see the nefarious intent. After all, Iran had missiles that can reach Israel. What they’re really after are missile packages that can reach us—here in the United States. But that’s a homework assignment for the next guy or gal in the Oval.

Matt Vespa - Top TSA Official Removed From Duties Over Backlash For Sluggish Security Lines
Posted: 5/23/2016 10:23:00 PM EST

A top Transportation Security Administration official was removed from his post over the absurdly long lines witnessed by travelers at airports. In some cases, people waited for hours to be screened by TSA agents. Christine wrote Chicago’s Midway International Airport’s lines were a total disaster. Moreover, it only strengthens the argument that such security services should be privatized. Facing mounting criticism, the TSA removed Kelly Hoggan, assistant administrator for security operations, along with establishing a “centralized incident command team at TSA headquarters,” according to NBC News. At a House Oversight Committee hearing, TSA Administrator Peter NEffenger tried to pass off the long lines due to staff shortages, but he had a more difficult time explaining why Hoggan had received $90,000 in bonuses, despite security lines not improving (via CNN):

Kelly Hoggan has been removed from his position as head of security at TSA, following our hearing on May 12 on mismanagement at TSA," the committee tweeted.

The House Oversight Committee conducted a hearing on TSA's operations on May 12. At the hearing the TSA Administrator, Peter Neffenger, was questioned why Hoggan was given $90,000 in bonuses when security lines were not improving.

His agency is on the defensive after three former TSA employees testified that they were retaliated against after "directed reassignments," where employees who have highlighted wrongdoing within the administration are shifted to other assignments.

Neffenger said then that he did not "tolerate" potential retaliation against whistleblowers and pledged to "look into it."

The TSA declined to comment. But in an internal memo from Neffenger on Monday, the TSA announced several changes to its management.

"These adjustments will enable more focused leadership and screening operations at critical airports in the national transportation system," Neffenger wrote in the memo, which CNN obtained from an official within the agency.

Neffenger attributed the long lines to the thousands of employees the administration lost in 2014 that they have yet to replace. But much harder to explain was the $90,000 bonus given to Hoggan following a scathing report by Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth that detailed numerous security failures at airports around the country.

Additionally, the bonus paid to Hoggan was doled out in $10,000 increments, leading the committee to believe that the TSA was attempting to be less than transparent, accusing the administration of "smurfing" the payment.

What a nightmare.

Catherine  Dunn - Sen. Elizabeth Warren Criticizes Trump, Sexism in Commencement Speech
Posted: 5/23/2016 7:00:00 PM EST

While giving the commencement address at Suffolk University, Sen. Elizabeth Warren made a side comment mocking Donald Trump’s high unfavorability ratings among women.

“By the way, President McKenna, how’s this speech polling so far?” she asked, referencing the university’s polling facilities. “Higher or lower than Donald Trump’s unfavorable numbers with women?”

According to a recent Fox News poll, 63 percent of women have an unfavorable opinion of Trump. Many have identified his unpopularity among women as a key vulnerability in his campaign.

Over the past few months, Warren has been a vocal critic of Trump for, among other issues, statements she identifies as sexist. In early May, she tweeted, “We get it, @realDonaldTrump: When a woman stands up to you, you’re going to call her a basket case. Hormonal. Ugly.” She also claimed that he built his campaign on “racism, sexism, and xenophobia.”

The issue of sexism holds personal relevance for Warren, the first female senator of Massachusetts. In her commencement speech, she explained how her mother discouraged her from attending college, saying that she should instead “find a nice man to marry and have him take care of [her].” After Warren graduated law school, employers would not hire her due to her pregnancy. She stayed at home with her children for several years and then worked as a law professor for several decades, until Sen. Harry Reid asked her to chair the Congressional Oversight Panel during the 2008 financial crisis. In 2012, she ran a successful Senate campaign against Republican Scott Brown, becoming one of 20 female senators serving in the 114th Congress.

Warren’s comment about Trump’s unfavorability comes at a time when both presidential candidates have reason to be concerned about their polling with the opposite gender. While, as mentioned, 63 percent of women have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, the same poll shows that 71 percent of men have an unfavorable opinion of Hillary Clinton.

Cortney O'Brien - Valerie Jarrett Cites 'Ending Two Wars' as Obama Accomplishments
Posted: 5/23/2016 6:30:00 PM EST

White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett was tasked with listing some of the ways President Obama made good on his promise to bring “hope and change” to America during her interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” this weekend. She cited a declining unemployment rate, a revived automobile industry and the millions of Americans who now have health care as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Some of those “accomplishments” are debatable, but one was downright false. During her answer, Jarrett had the audacity to say that Obama “ended two wars” during his two-term tenure.

Jarrett’s comments would be news to our military. The president declared he was pulling out American troops from Iraq in 2011, only to send over 4,000 soldiers back. Meanwhile, we are launching thousands of airstrikes against ISIS and assisting Iraqi forces in their new effort to retake the important city of Fallujah.

The Obama administration has had a hard time using the word “combat” to describe our presence in Iraq, despite military serviceman being killed while fighting ISIS. Earlier this month, Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV became the third service member to fall on the front lines of battle.

Oh, and Jarrett’s “60 Minutes” interview aired at the same time our military launched a drone strike against a major Taliban leader.

While the interview may have been conducted before the official Pentagon announcement, her comments coincided with the news that a drone strike had taken out Taliban leader Mansour in the Pakistan province of Baluchistan – the latest sign of the prolonged fight in the Middle East and South Asia.

So, we’ll ask again: What exactly are President Obama's accomplishments?

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