Really interesting stuff from National Review's Eliana Johnson, whose latest campaign dispatch sheds light on just how close Newt Gingrich has become with the presumptive Republican nominee -- and how hard the former House Speaker is said to be lobbying behind the scenes for a spot on the ticket. Are you ready for Trump/Gingrich 2016, America?
Gingrich has, in effect, launched his own campaign to secure the nomination. “I think Newt is lobbying to be the vice president, and I think their people are paying a lot of attention to him,” says Ed Rollins, a Republican operative and former Gingrich staffer now working for a super PAC supporting Trump’s candidacy. “It’d be a ticket with six former wives, kind of like a Henry VIII thing,” Rollins says. “They certainly understand women.” Trump’s search for a vice-presidential nominee is underway. The campaign confirmed last week that it had tapped veteran Washington lawyer A. B. Culvahouse to vet potential nominees, and Bloomberg News reported earlier this month that Gingrich is among a handful of people Trump is considering...“I don’t know two other people who can command more media attention than Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump,” says Rick Tyler, who served as Gingrich’s campaign spokesman in 2012. For Trump, Tyler says, naming Gingrich vice president would simply be “doubling down on an already successful strategy: keeping your enemies constantly on defense, constantly off balance, constantly explaining themselves. Newt knows how to do that.”
Let's just pretend Rollins' sarcastic (I hope?) "they certainly understand women" comment never happened, and instead focus on Johnson's details regarding how Gingrich has ingratiated himself with Trump's inner circle, effectively assuming the role of a deeply-trusted daily adviser:
Gingrich has a reputation for insinuating himself into campaigns by firing off dozens of e-mails brimming with ideas that range from brilliant to insane. While it’s a quality that has irritated previous presidential candidates such as John McCain and Mitt Romney, sources say that Trump has come to value the former speaker’s opinions. “They talk every day,” says a source familiar with the relationship, who claims that Gingrich e-mails Trump, campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and campaign manager Corey Lewandowski “countless times a day.”...Gingrich’s influence within Trump World is widespread. Inside Trump’s newly established campaign offices in Washington, D.C., his fingerprints are everywhere. “Right from the minute I joined we were told that Newt will have his hand in every major policy effort,” says one Trump aide. “So one of the things I do when I’m researching or writing anything, in addition to looking at what Trump has said about anything, I look at what Newt has said.”
Though the tidbits and speculation about Newt supposedly maneuvering to emerge victorious in the Veepstakes chase is certainly interesting, Allahpundit is right that the biggest piece of real news out of this piece is that Newt Gingrich is, and has been, playing a fairly major role within the Trump campaign. That's something worth keeping in mind whenever he's seen offering "independent" analysis -- sometimes tellingly obsequious -- on television or over social media. The apparent reality that Newt and Trump speak every day is also newsworthy. If the bolded comment above from a campaign aide is representative, and Team Trump really is relying heavily on Gingrich for guidance on "every major policy effort," that insight could be reassuring to some conservative Trump skeptics. Though Newt is infamous for wandering off the reservation from time to time -- in ways both ludicrous and troubling -- he's generally viewed as a genuine ideas-based conservative. If Trump is willing to afford the former Speaker a major seat at the policy table, if not a perch at the head of said table, that may help reassure recalcitrant righties that a true believer is set to play an outsized role in steering the Good Ship Trump. To wit, via the NRO story: "On Friday, the source says Gingrich sent five messages after lunch, musing on everything from Fox host Megyn Kelly’s interview with Trump to Trump’s recently announced list of potential Supreme Court nominees to ideas for targeting Bernie Sanders’ voters."
Therein lies the appeal of Gingrich as a potential Vice President, should Trump be elected. As for his utility as a running mate, that's a bit murkier. A Trump/Gingrich ticket would be historically undisciplined as far as campaign messaging is concerned. Perhaps the barely-controlled chaos would play well. Maybe it'd be an epic trainwreck. One thing is clear: Trump is not remotely averse to following his gut and taking astronomical, almost unthinkable, political risks. Teaming up with Newt Gingrich could end up being one of them. To call that ticket "flawed" would be to refer to the Titanic as "no longer operational." But considering who the two individuals poised to capture their respective parties' nominations are, it seems like "unprecedentedly flawed" is all the hotness with American voters this cycle. Of course, it sometimes feels like virtually anyone could beat this person. She's so bad at this:
All 529 Syrian refugees admitted to the US this month identified themselves as Muslim. More refugees have been received this May than any other month this fiscal year.
The Obama administration pledged last September to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in the 2016 Fiscal Year. Since October 1, 2015, 2,265 refugees have been placed in the US. The State Department Refugee Processing Center (RPC) reported that out of these refugees only 21, or less than one percent, were non-Muslims.
The Obama administration has been criticized by both sides for its actions towards the refugee crisis. Officials opposing the admittance of refugees have voiced concerns that terrorists may use the crisis to gain entrance to the US. The low number of Christians has also been a point of contention. According to an article by The Hill, opponents of the refugees’ entry believe the process might filter out Christians.
The United Nations’ High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) stated in December that Republicans’ comments on the disproportionate number of Christian refugees are misinformed. The US is not the only country receiving unexpectedly low numbers of Christian refugees. Jana Mason, senior adviser for government relation and external affairs at the UNHCR, said that out of the 2 million registered Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt, only 1.2 percent were Christian. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, 87 percent of all Syrians are Muslim, and 10 percent are Christian.
Activist group Human Rights First published a report in April highlighting that despite the recent increase in US resettlement efforts, meeting the goal of 10,000 would require the US to admit over 1,400 refugees each month from April to September this year. However, only 451 refugees were processed last month. The group criticized the administration for not promising to admit more.
Halfway through the fiscal year in March, the US had only received 1,285 refugees. Since then the percentage of Christian migrants continued to decline as the number of immigrants increased.
Of the refugees who arrived this month, 525 identified themselves as Sunni Muslims, while the remaining four simply described themselves as Muslims.
In case you missed it over the weekend, President Obama lifted the long-standing arms embargo against Vietnam.
President Obama on Monday fully lifted the United States’ 41-year arms embargo against Vietnam.
"At this stage both sides have developed a level of trust and cooperation, including between our militaries, that is reflective of common interests and mutual respect," Obama said at a news conference in Hanoi.
“This change will ensure that Vietnam has access to the equipment it needs to defend itself and removes a lingering vestige of the Cold War,” he added.
The move is receiving heavy criticism from Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, who argue the fight for human rights in the communist country jeopardized.
Dem CA Rep Loretta Sanchez says lifting Vietnam arms embargo "perilously weakened our leverage for securing human rights reforms in Vietnam"— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 23, 2016
Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce had a similar response to President Obama's decision.
“The security situation in Southeast Asia is driving several countries to seek closer military ties with the United States. That’s influence the administration could use to press Vietnam to better its very bad human rights record. But that’s now leverage lost with today’s action," Royce released in a statement. "The Obama administration’s ‘pivot to Asia’ should be about security ties, but also standing up for brave Vietnamese believers in democracy when they are under assault in Vietnam.”
President Obama will visit Vietnam this week.
In an attempt to prevent further terror attacks like the one in Paris in November, France has built a seven-foot fence around its largest soccer stadium and employed 1,700 security officers to help deter future attacks.
The new measures were installed at the Stade de France as a trial run for the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, which starts in under three weeks.
However, as thousands of fans became trapped as they passed through pat-downs and multiple ticket checks on Saturday, they became restless and ignited fireworks in the densely-packed crowd.
Marseille supporters even lit a bonfire inside the stadium after their team lost the match 4-2.
Apparently the security measures failed as the fans were able to bring in explosives and flammable materials.
Local police chief Philippe Gali told French radio Europe1 on Monday that this "proved the searches did not operate as planned … we're going to have to fix what didn't work." He also cited technical dysfunctions at the gates.
Following the failed test run, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve ordered Euro 2016 organizers to meet on Monday.
Disney's smash-hit movie Frozen, despite its complete lack of plot and decent-at-best soundtrack, will be getting a sequel in the near future. Some fans of the film are hoping that Elsa will have a female love interest in the new movie, and have started a campaign urging Disney to make this happen.
In the original film, Elsa was unique among Disney princesses/queens in that she did not have a romantic interest--of any gender or species. Instead, the formerly bitter and harsh Elsa realized that the love (in a general, non-eros sense) is the most important thing after her sister Anna sacrifices herself to protect her. Elsa's outpouring of grief for the loss of her sister manages to unfreeze both Anna and Arendelle, ending the eternal winter she inadvertently cursed upon her homeland.
The campaign has reached the actual stars of the film, and Idina Menzel, who voices Elsa, said she was open to the idea of Elsa being in love with a woman--but that it was up to Disney to decide.
“I think it’s great,” the Broadway star and actress told ET. “Disney’s just gotta contend with that. I’ll let them figure that out.” When asked if she’d support the decision if it were to happen, Menzel responded: “No matter what,” as the character “changed my life.”
Given that Disney reportedly recently finished the script for the film and recording is to begin shortly, it's unlikely that the movie will include this plot line.
Personally, I think this is all a bit silly. Shoehorning a sexuality onto a beloved established character won't do anything to change societal attitudes, it will just make people upset that a character they enjoy is being used simply to push an agenda. Further, part of Elsa's appeal is that she's (for lack of a better phrase), a strong independent woman who don't need no man--or woman. It would be pointless for Disney to pull a stunt like this.
Al Gore has proven to be a single-issue voter. For years, all he's been talking about is the weather. It appears, however, that the country’s most famous environmentalist is not yet convinced that Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton would be the best-qualified candidate to take on climate change. He has yet to endorse her – or anyone – in the 2016 race.
Is it possible that Gore, who has linked climate change to the refugee crisis, health and more, likes what he’s hearing from Clinton’s opponent Bernie Sanders? Certainly, it seems the Vermont senator has been more vocal about taking on climate change than his opponent. At a Democratic debate, he even equated it to terrorism.
Gore indicated that he will support the Democratic nominee regardless of who it is during an interview that aired on “Today” Monday morning. Yet, he noted that a Donald Trump presidency may not be the end of the world. Even after “Today’s” Anne Thompson presented Gore with some of Trump’s controversial comments regarding global warming, including the time he called it a “hoax,” Gore was comforted by the GOP candidate’s malleability.
But he left open the possibility that there could be some "hope" with Trump.
"I'm not Pollyannaish about it, but I do think that there is still some basis for hope," Gore insisted.
It’s been ten years since Gore starred in an “Inconvenient Truth” and many of the film’s dire predictions have not come true. As his climate theories get discredited one-by-one, will a Gore endorsement carry any weight in November?
With new polling pointing to a tightening general election contest, Donald Trump's campaign is setting its sights on Hillary Clinton's enduring and wide advantage among female voters. The former reality show star is expanding his lead with men, which has neutralized and even overtaken Clinton's "gender gap" edge. If Bernie Sanders supporters prove unwilling to rally to Mrs. Clinton when she finally sews up the nomination -- and if Trump can whittle down her lead with women, who will represent more than half of the overall electorate in November -- he has a realistic shot at beating her. One argument Trump fans offered on his behalf during the rancorous GOP primary was that he would be willing drop rhetorical bombs on the Clintons in ways that other candidates wouldn't ever dream of. Fact check: Mostly true. Here's a short online clip the Trump camp posted on Instagram, signaling that the billionaire fully intends to litigate Bill Clinton's sordid history of sexual misconduct and alleged assault as a means of undermining Hillary's positioning as a champion of women. Watch:
This is a characteristically unsubtle escalation by Team Trump, whose principal has been telegraphing this line of criticism for months. Just last week, the candidate raised the word "rape" in connection to the former president, drawing a swift response from Hillary's camp. As I've said and written on a number of occasions, even though lobbing this sort of attack may confound Clinton's campaign, dredge up long-dormant ugliness, and throw Mrs. Clinton off-message, it's also rife with political risk for the aggressor. It's entirely plausible that this tactic may backfire if voters believe Trump is unfairly using the sins (and alleged crimes) of the husband to tear down the wife. People may see it as mean-spirited, irrelevant and old news; after all, the 42nd president enjoys strong favorability ratings, despite his many known improprieties. Then again, many younger voters aren't very aware of just how unseemly President Clinton's behavior was. A whole generation of voters has likely never heard the name Juanita Broderick, whose accusations against Bill Clinton have been emotional, specific and consistent. She is one of several women who have accused Hillary Clinton's husband of at least unwanted sexual advances, several of whose voices are featured in the video above. The extent to which she looked the other way or actively aided in the smearing of his accusers ('nuts and sluts') can be fair game -- especially as she postures and preens with statements like this:
"To every survivor of sexual assault...You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed. We're with you." —Hillary— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2015
The inclusion of Hillary's cackle at the end of the Instagram snippet feels like a cheap shot. The implication is that she derived maniacal glee from her husband's conduct, and these women's allegations. Though this will undoubtedly thrill Trump loyalists, it could very well end up being counter-productive. We'll see whether any sympathy-driven, pro-Hillary blowback materializes. Then again, if Hillary chooses to go the indignant route in response, many Trump defenders will inevitably point to a separate audio recording to bolster the spirit of this attack. Nearly two years ago, an irate woman came forward to savage Hillary Clinton for engaging in a blame-the-victim strategy that she said assassinated her character during a 1975 child rape case. Clinton represented the accused rapist at the time, aggressively challenging the young victim's credibility in court documents. That girl, now an adult, says Clinton took her "through hell," and lied "like a dog" in making "false allegations," resulting in a drastically reduced sentence. A contemporaneous interview obtained by the Washington Free Beacon records Clinton chuckling about the resolution of the case. Though I defended her decision to represent a cretinous client (whom she clearly believed to be guilty) as a necessary component of the US criminal justice system, her ruthless tactics against the alleged victim and weird laughter in an after-the-fact interview are unsettling. I'll leave you with the presumptive Democratic nominee -- a platinum-level lifetime panderer -- lamenting Trump's "pandering" to the NRA over the weekend:
"Unlike Donald Trump, I will not pander to the gun lobby. We will not be silenced and we will not be intimidated." —Hillary— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 22, 2016
Now seems like a reasonable time to serve up a reminder that Hillary Clinton hit Barack Obama from the right on guns in 2008, and now has blasted Bernie Sanders from the left on the same issue this cycle.
On college campuses across the country, Palestinian activists have been deeply involved in pushing the BDS movement, which advocates for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctioning of Israeli products. Filmmaker Ami Horowitz recently visited Portland State University, a hot spot of the BDS movement in America, to see how far students would be willing to go to support the anti-Israel cause.
Posing as a representative from "American Friends for Hamas," a fake organization, Horowitz was able to raise hundreds of dollars from students by advocating for the bombing of schools, hospitals and cafes.
"We're not your father's terrorist organization, we're kind of rebuilt and re-branded," Horowitz tells students as they donate money to his cause. "It's BDS at the next level. There's BDS and we're like, BDS plus."
At one point in the video, Horowitz tells a student, "The suicide bomber is all we've got because it's like the poor man's F-16."
"Right, right," the student says in response. Another woman in the video says she'll donate $27 because that's the amount she gave to Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
You can see more of Ami's work at AmiHorowitz.com.
UPDATE: The story has been killed by Agency France-Presse due to errors in the exchange rate.You may be still be able to buy a burger at somewhat affordable prices, but it doesn't negate the fact that Venezuela is in a death spiral thanks to socialism.
How bad is inflation in Venezuela? The country’s disastrous dalliance with lefty-economic theories has not only led to hospitals lacking basic medical supplies, like soap, food, and electricity, but burgers that now cost $170. Need a place to stay in Venezuela (though I don’t know why you would visit in the first place)? No problem—it’ll only cost you $6,900 a night (via AFP):
If a visitor to Venezuela is unfortunate enough to pay for anything with a foreign credit card, the eye-watering cost might suggest they were in a city pricier than Tokyo or Zurich.
A hamburger sold for 1,700 Venezuelan bolivares is $170, or a 69,000-bolivar hotel room is $6,900 a night, based on the official rate of 10 bolivares for $1.
But of course no merchant is pricing at the official rate imposed under currency controls. It's the black market rate of 1,000 bolivares per dollar that's applied.
But for Venezuelans paid in hyperinflation-hit bolivares, and living in an economy relying on mostly imported goods or raw materials, conditions are unthinkably expensive.
Even for the middle class, most of it sliding into poverty, hamburgers and hotels are out-of-reach excesses.
"Everybody is knocked low," Michael Leal, a 34-year-old manager of an eyewear store in Caracas, told AFP. "We can't breathe."
- Shuttered stores -
In Chacao, a middle-class neighborhood in the capital, office workers lined up outside a nut store to buy the cheapest lunch they could afford. Nearby restaurants were all but empty.
Superficially it looked like the center of any other major Latin American city: skyscrapers, dense traffic, pedestrians in short sleeves bustling along the sidewalks.
But look closely and you can see the economic malaise. Many stores, particularly those that sold electronics, were shuttered. "It's horrible now," said Marta Gonzalez, the 69-year-old manager of a corner beauty products store. The Agence French-Presse added that for most middle class families, a simple trip to the movie theater is now a luxury item that’s not affordable, as some are trying to live on $35/month.
We all know New Jersey is a bastion of anti-gun sentiment. It’s a deep-blue Democratic state that accepts carry rights, though you need to show a “justifiable need,” which has been the source of ire and mockery from Second Amendment supporters. Arguably, it’s an unconstitutional provision, one that was recently struck down in Washington, D.C., but the fight to put this portion of many “may-issue (anti-gun)” states’ carry laws in the crosshairs has been a steep climb. The Supreme Court has refused to hear arguments in two cases, where this portion was directly addressed. No dice.
Yet, moving away from the legal sphere, you would think that if you dealt with protecting the nation from terrorism, and working at a site that has been threatened by terrorists, would be good enough reason for one to have a concealed carry permit. Well, that’s not apparently what New Jersey thinks, and for those serving in our military to boot (via NJ101.5):
When it comes to firearms, Lt. Col. Terry S. Russell has more knowledge and training than most people in New Jersey. The 27-year U.S. Army soldier holds a senior position at the Picatinny Arsenal in Wharton.
But neither his expertise — nor the fact that he works at a military site that has been under threat of terrorist attacks — were enough for the state to grant him a concealed-carry permit.
In denying his application for a concealed-carry permit, Oceanport Police Chief Daniel W. Barcus said Russell was unable to demonstrate “justifiable need” because there had been no specific attacks or threats made directly on him.
To legally carry concealed firearms in New Jersey, residents have to apply to their local police for a permit demonstrating such a need. But critics of the state’s strict gun laws say this results in very few people other than acting and retired law enforcement officials getting approval for such permits.
“I have been fully trained and qualified, at a minimum annually, to skillfully employ handguns and rifles,” Russell explains.
In addition, he’s been “vetted through the Department of Defense security office every five years for the past 25 years” to have Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance.” An attachment to his application shows that he already holds a concealed carry permit in Texas.
This is absolutely ridiculous. The radio station added that New Jersey’s Attorney General, Robert Loughy, had eased the state’s stringent carry law provisions for those facing “serious threats.” This was after an abusive ex-boyfriend murdered Carol Bowne in Berlin Township last year. She had obtained a restraining order and installed a security system at her home, but was waiting for months to be issued a firearm identification card, which is required for a firearms purchase in the state.
Terrorism doesn’t meet the requirements of the justifiable need provision in New Jersey—just think about that.
Shameful: Sanctuary City Protections Remain in San Francisco Even After Kate Steinle Death | Cortney O'Brien
Brutal: Sen. Cotton Torches "Vulgar' Harry Reid For Delaying Defense Bill To Preserve His 'Sad, Sorry Legacy' | Matt Vespa