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:

Guy Benson - Brutal: MSNBC Panel Dumps on Hillary's Email Lies For Seven Straight Minutes
Posted: 5/27/2016 2:05:00 PM EST

The perfect bookend to my previous post today, in which I flayed Hillary Clinton and her defenders for their evolving dishonesty in light of a "devastating" new Inspector General report that undercuts and explodes various lies she's told for more than a year to spin away her national security-compromising email scandal. Here is the Morning Joe crew just slamming her updated talking points, which are unadulterated garbage. Rather than perform another in-depth fact check, I'll let MSNBC (!) do the heavy lifting, as they've done before, to their credit. Seriously, watch the whole thing. "Everything she said in there was just a lie:"

The only half-hearted defense floated in the entire segment comes not from Hillary supporter Mika Brzezinski, but by a Politico reporter, who suggests that perhaps not adhering to some email rules really isn't that big of a deal in the scheme of things. What this point completely misses, as Joe Scarborough points out, is the consequences of Hillary's deliberate failure to follow those rules or alter her behavior in the face of serious warnings. Because she used her unsecure bootleg server exclusively for all of her email use, she trafficked in thousands of classified emails -- including dozens at the secret, top secret and above top secret. That's the biggest reason the Powell comparison is fundamentally dishonest. In the extremely likely event that her server was penetrated by foreign hackers (the new report reveals Hillary's email guru being forced to shut down the server because it was under sustained malicious attack), hostile actors have all of that information. Information that the State Department deemed so sensitive and potentially harmful to US interests that they declined to release 22 emails in any form whatsoever, even with heavy redactions. That's the point here. National security. Hillary's arrogance is obnoxious, of course, but the stakes here are much higher than that.

I'll leave you with an additional reminder: The one big claim the Morning Joe panel didn't get around to tackling is her assertion -- replayed at the front end of the clip -- that she's turned over all of her work-related emails. She said this, by the way, while attempting to explain away why she was the only former Secretary of State approached by the IG who refused to cooperate with this independent investigation. The fact is that she and her lawyers unilaterally deleted 32,000 emails from that private server, which the IG's findings reveal she set up for the express purpose of 'thwarting records requests,' as the New York Times  has put it. Of those destroyed "personal" emails, we know for a fact (thanks to other hacks) that at least a handful of them were actually work-related. Would anyone else be surprised if there are additional work messages that magically disappeared with that batch of 32,000? If she'd wanted to be fully transparent, she would have submitted to supervision from a trustworthy independent entity (like the IG) during the deletion process. She did not, by design. Perhaps the only people who know the full truth are a small cadre of Clinton loyalists...and maybe the FBI.

Cortney O'Brien - Cruz Intends to Prevent Trump From ‘Watering Down’ Pro-life Language in RNC Platform
Posted: 5/27/2016 2:00:00 PM EST

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is concerned how Donald Trump’s meandering record on abortion will affect the Republican Party platform. In a conversation with radio host Pat Campbell on Friday, Cruz vowed to prevent the eventual GOP nominee from pressuring the Republican National Committee from watering down its pro-life agenda.

“You have my word. One of the reasons that we are continuing to work to elect conservatives to be delegates, even though Donald has the delegates to get the nomination, we intend to do everything we can to fight for conservative principles to prevent Washington forces from watering down the platform," Cruz said. "The platform is a manifestation of what we believe as a party, and I think it is important that it continue to reflect conservative values, free-market values, constitutional liberties, Judeo-Christian principles, the values that built this country, and that is exactly what I intend to fight for.”

When he was still hot on the presidential campaign trail, Cruz routinely placed Trump’s waffling pro-life agenda in the spotlight, reminding voters that the businessman was proudly pro-choice in the 1990s. In April, when Trump said he “absolutely” plans to change the RNC platform to make allowances for abortion in cases of rape and incest, Cruz said his remarks proved he really is a "New York liberal.”

Trump's abortion comments are especially disconcerting, Cruz said, considering RNC Chairman Reince Priebus suggested the platform is fluid and will be up to the convention delegates to decide this summer at the convention.

Yet, the chair insisted the party’s pro-life tenets will be upheld.

"I think our platform is pretty clear on those subjects. Life begins at conception, and that 14th Amendment rights apply to unborn children."

Will Priebus' promise appease the pro-life movement, or should conservatives be worried about the Republican Party’s dedication to pro-life values come this July?

Matt Vespa - Clinton Saying That ‘Nothing Has Changed’ Regarding Emails ‘Is Not Borne Out By The Facts'
Posted: 5/27/2016 1:35:00 PM EST

Yesterday, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski asked if Hillary Clinton was “lying straight out” over her email fiasco after a new State Inspector General report noted that she had violated the Federal Records Act by deleting emails she deemed to be personal. Now, we have The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza telling MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that the Clinton campaign’s position in this controversy is “not borne out by the facts.”

Mitchell played a clip from Clinton’s interview with Univision on her reaction to the IG report:

“Well, there maybe reports that come out, but nothing has changed. It’s the same story. Just like previous secretaries of state, I used a personal email—many people did. It was not at all unprecedented. I have turned over all of my emails—no one else can say that.”

Cillizza wasn’t having any of it:

“I mean, yeah—it’s not right. You can think this is a small issue or a big issue in the campaign, or no issue in the campaign, but what she said there is not borne out by the facts.”

He added that this report did look back at her predecessors, and that Secretary of State Colin Powell did have a private email address. But no one before her had exclusively used a private email for official business—“that is did not have a state.gov email address set up at all.” Moreover, Cillizza said that the rules over communications concerning government officials got stricter over time, so the rules “and what was allowable there” are not the same under Clinton.

Lastly, he said the report noted that this private system shouldn’t have been set up in the first place, and that the inspector general couldn’t find any evidence that Clinton and her team conducted a legal review over whether she could use a private email system.

In closing, Cillizza said, “What Secretary Clinton said there is not entirely accurate frankly. There are just facts that we know that have been unearthed by the independent—the independent inspector general’s office, and there’s an FBI investigation into her email set up. This is not just partisans talking back and forth.”

Earlier this month, CNN’s Jake Tapper took Clinton to task for saying that her email server was “absolutely permitted.”

“No, that’s no true. She says that because she permitted herself and there was no one absolutely prohibiting her,” he said. He concluded by saying, “A reminder to all the politicians out there. You’re perfectly entitled to your own opinions, not to your own facts.”

The Clinton campaign still contends it did nothing wrong

BONUS: Be sure to read Guy's post about how MSNBC's Morning Joe ripped into Clinton over her emails this morning. 

Matt Vespa - Yes, Dropping Atomic Bombs On Japan Was A Good Thing
Posted: 5/27/2016 1:15:00 PM EST

Editor's Note: In light of President Obama's visit to Hiroshima, I've re-published this post from last week. Please read Cortney's post about Obama's speech.

***

Today, President Obama visited Hiroshima. It was the first time a sitting president has done so. Of course, we’ve entered another arena of liberal debate: were the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ethical/justified/moral? The answer is yes to all three. First, let’s delve into something a bit disconcerting, which is that an increasing number of Americans feel that the bombing was wrong (via WaPo):

In the first Gallup poll from 1945 just after the bombings, a huge 85 percent of Americans approved the bombings. However, figures from 2005 show a significant decline to 57 percent. Meanwhile, another poll conducted by the Detroit Free Press in the United States and Japan in 1991 found that 63 percent of Americans thought that the bombings were justified in a bid to end the war, while just 29 percent of Japanese did.

When Pew followed up on that question in 2015, they found that the numbers of people who thought the bombings were justified had dropped in both America and Japan — to 56 percent among Americans and just 14 percent among Japanese. The total percentage of people who thought the bombings were unjustified stood at 79 percent in Japan, up from 64 percent in 1991. In America, those who thought they were unjustified rose to 34 percent, from 29 percent in 1991.

[…]

This change may have contributed to a generational shift seen in Pew's research: Just 47 percent of Americans 18 to 29 years old said the use of atomic weapons was justified when asked last year, compared to 70 percent of those 65 or older.

We nuked the Japanese, so you can bet that approval for these bombings weren’t going to reach high points. Granted, the majority of Americans still approve of the bombings and think it was justified. For my generation who appears to be confused (and it’s not just this issue), I suggest watching Ken Burns’ The War, or read any history book that deals with the Pacific theater or World War II—specifically the twilight months of the war. The Battle of Okinawa saw the entire 100,000+ Japanese garrison annihilated, with American casualties soaring over 70,000 in 82 days of combat. If the bombs weren’t dropped, total American casualties were expected to be at least 500,000, while the Japanese were projected to be at least a million maybe more.

Just looking at Japan’s southern most home island, Kyushu, the casualty rate alone was estimated to be over 100,000, according to the Joint War Plans Committee (via  CIA):

On 15 June 1945, the Joint War Plans Committee submitted its draft of the requested paper to the Joint Planning Staff. (24) The paper presented essentially the same case for an invasion of Kyushu that had been made in the earlier debates preceding the operational directive of 25 May. It also incorporated the same forecast of Japanese forces (six combat divisions, two depot divisions, 350,000 men) that had been presented in intelligence estimates going back to mid-1944.

In response to the presidential request for casualty estimates, the Joint War Plans Committee report laid down strong caveats on uncertainty and emphasized that the level of opposition and the time required to complete the operation could result in major variations. The report then offered the following figures as an "educated guess"

The JWPC assessment did not give a specific breakdown for each area individually, but a nominal breakdown can be derived by comparing the component figures given for each scenario. For example, the differences between the second and third scenarios for total casualties and numbers killed are 87,500 and 21,000, respectively. The operational difference between these two scenarios is the inclusion or absence of an attack on the Tokyo Plain. Thus, an interpretation could be made that the estimated casualty total for the attack on the Tokyo Plain was 87,500, including 21,000 killed. Subtracting these figures from the first scenario would yield figures for southern Kyushu of 106,000 total casualties and 19,000 killed, and a similar calculation shows 26,500 total casualties and 6,000 killed for northwestern Kyushu.

[…]

Attacking Kyushu would have meant invading an island many times larger than Okinawa; southern Kyushu alone is well over twice Okinawa's size in square miles. Kyushu was initially expected to be garrisoned by Japanese ground combat forces roughly three-and-one-half times the size of the forces on Okinawa. (82) Kyushu also had a civilian augmentation potential many times greater than Okinawa's. The initial estimates by the Joint War Plans Committee and MacArthur's staff of casualties that would be incurred in capturing southern Kyushu (105,000-106,000) were a little more than twice the Okinawa total.

By the first week in August, the estimated total of Japanese Army and naval ground combat troops on Kyushu was more than six times what it had been on Okinawa. Intercepted communications had been showing Japanese preparations to employ the same kinds of suicide attacks and other unconventional tactics and devices that had caused so many casualties in the Okinawa operation. The number of US Army and Marine troops to be committed in the landing was about three times the force that had been launched against Okinawa.

These figures are insanely high, and the Japanese were ready to fight to the death if Operation Downfall went into effect before President Harry Truman decided to use atomic weapons. PBS noted that Kyushu’s invasion plan–codename Olympic–had a casualty rate range of 31,000 for the first 30 days to 280,000 total. This does not include the Coronet phase­–the invasion of the largest island, Honshu, which includes Tokyo, which Truman did not sign off. Given what we know, more people would have been killed, Japanese and American combined, if we hadn’t used nuclear weapons against Japan. It was the right thing to do. It was the moral thing to do. Between the two bombings, 262,020 people were killed. This includes Japanese civilians who were instantly killed by the bombs and the radiation fallout that ensued.

Subtract the very conservative casualty rate (on both sides) of 1.5 million with that of those atomized in August of 1945, and you get 1,237,980. That’s a lot of saved lives—and that figure is probably higher since the Japanese casualty rate would certainly be in the millions. The atomic bombings saved lives and ended mankind’s most destructive war. Prolonging this theater of carnage would be immoral. Losing over 100,000 for an island that was to be used as a staging ground for the main island assault is ridiculously high. By these figures, more people (on both sides) would’ve died on Kyushu and those Japanese vaporized in Nagasaki. Is it because the two bombs were atomic?

If so, that’s a very silly reason. For months prior to the atomic bombings, Americans were bombing whole slates of Japanese cities, destroying at least 25 percent of its urban areas. In some instances, whole cities would be bombed back to the Stone Age. In one night, the United States killed over 100,000 civilians when we firebombed Tokyo in March of 1945. Where’s the outcry over that act, which went into the books as the most destructive air raid in history.

The late former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara gave a good counterpoint to the atomic bombings when he doled out how much of each Japanese city was destroyed by American airpower in the 2003 documentary The Fog Of War. He was trying to explain how proportionality should be a guideline in war. And that the destruction of the country’s cities through our serial air raids should’ve been taken into account when we dropped the atomic bombs. I still disagree due to the fact that the Japanese weren’t going to surrender, and (again) it would’ve saved millions of lives looking at the total butcher’s bill from the operation.

The atomic bombings weren’t pleasant. In fact, they were horrible. But so would’ve been sending millions of Japanese and hundreds of thousands of American troops into the meat grinder when two bombs ended up being the closing chapter in this brutal fight. Yes, there’s the argument that Truman wanted to scare the Russians. Yes, we sort of lucked out since the Japanese thought we had more atomic bombs—we didn’t. Nevertheless, they surrendered, and countless lives were saved. That’s rather righteous.

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