FBI Captures 22-Year-Old ISIS Wannabe in New York

The FBI has arrested a 22-year-old New York City man on Monday for allegedly supporting the Islamic State according to ABC News.   Apparently, an elaborate FBI and NYPD operation with the help of at least four undercover law enforcement agents, led to the man's capture.  

Sajmir Alimehmeti was arrested before dawn this morning without struggle. He apparently tried to help one of the under cover agents receive transportation to Syria.  

Alimehmeti attempted to join ISIS in 2014 but was stopped twice in the United Kingdom. On one occasion, “authorities found camouflage pants and shirts, as well as nunchucks, in Alimehmeti’s luggage” and the second time because U.K. authorities found “images of ISIS flags” and “improvised explosive device attacks” on his cellphone. He was then sent back to the U.S.

When talking to the undercover agent, Alimeheti expressed his anger with living in the United States and was jealous that he could not go to Syria.  “I’m ready to f---ing go with you, man ... You know I would ... I’m done with this place. There are kuffar (unbelievers) everywhere,” he said later, upon learning of another “ISIS recruit’s” plans to travel to Syria.

Alimehmeti was also charged with passport fraud for allegedly lying about losing his passport in an attempt to get a new one. 

San Francisco Trying To Reform Sanctuary Law, But Sheriff Is Resisting

The death of Kate Steinle shocked the nation. It should have been so profound as to lead a chorus of legislators to enact legislation to strengthen our immigration laws, or at least do something to address the numerous sanctuary cities we have in this country. Francisco Sanchez, an illegal alien who had been deported five times before, shot Steinle on a pier in San Francisco in July of 2015. Sanchez picked the California city because he knew authorities would not pursue him. It’s based on a 1989 law that made Frisco a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants, which is trying to be reformed by the city board of supervisors, but no real progress has been made (via Associated Press):

San Francisco officials plan to take another run at clarifying the progressive city's protections for people in the country illegally, a policy that led to national criticism last year when a Mexican man was accused of shooting and killing a woman walking along a waterfront pier.

The Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal Tuesday that says law enforcement can only turn over criminal suspects to federal immigration authorities if they are charged with a violent crime and have been convicted of a violent crime within the last seven years. That would be the only time city workers, including police officers, could disclose immigration status.

But San Francisco's sheriff has resisted the limitation, saying she wants greater discretion over what is a relatively small pool of detainees. The sheriff, as a constitutionally elected official, does not have to follow the board's orders.

The measure's chief sponsor postponed a vote on the ordinance earlier this month, saying that he wanted everyone on the same page. Supervisor John Avalos said the sides have been trying to reach a compromise, but he was prepared to vote Tuesday regardless.

[…]

Sheriff Vicki Hennessey has said that the office receives about five requests a week to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement of a detainee's status. She has not notified ICE in any of those cases, she said.

Hennessey also said that, like her predecessor, she may have ignored ICE's request for notification about Lopez-Sanchez, but at least she would have reviewed his case.

Hennessey’s predecessor, Ross Mirkarimi, said that the city’s sanctuary status made is “safer.” Hennessey beat him in a landslide last November. Still, Democrats’ unwillingness to establish common sense immigration enforcement measures is nothing short of stunning, even in the deep-blue bastion of San Francisco. Even more appalling was the White House response to this horrific event. At the time, they wouldn’t comment. Now, we have a new sheriff that says she would pretty much be like her predecessor on immigration law—action that has left people’s lives shattered. So, yeah, the city might be trying to reform its 1989 law, but it seems to be a clown show.

Steinle’s last words to her father, who was with her on the pier, were “help me, Dad.” Sadly, no one in the city seems to care enough to prevent this from happening to another family.

Is This Where The Obamas Are Moving After The White House?

Back in March, President Obama said that he was looking to stay in D.C. after his presidency ended. This was, in part, for practical reasons--his daughter, Sasha, is a freshman in high school. Now, it seems as though we may know where the Obamas will be ending up once they leave 1600 Pennsylvania Ave: somewhere in the Kalorama neighborhood, possibly in the home of a former ambassador.

From dcist:

In January, Paul Brandus, a member of the White House press corps, said that the First Family was deciding between Kalorama and Embassy Row. While an exact house in unknown, NJ points out the one-time home of a Syrian ambassador and another gated property are on the market.

Last October, Jim Bell of Beasley Real Estate told the Washington Business Journal that the Obamas could spend approximately $5 million to $7 million to accommodate all of their housing requirements.

The Obamas are staying in the District so that the family's youngest daughter, Sasha, can finish school at Sidwell Friends. “Transferring someone in the middle of high school — tough," the president told the group in Milwaukee.

No president since Woodrow Wilson has remained in Washington after their presidency. However, Obama is the first president since Jimmy Carter to have a school-age child in the White House at the conclusion of his term.

Sanders Places One-Child Policy Activist and Israel Critics on DNC Platform Committee

Will the Democratic National Committee come to regret its decision to offer Bernie Sanders seats on a key committee at the July convention? After granting the Vermont senator five positions on the Platform Drafting Committee, he chose a few of the most controversial figures available.

Among his choices are Bill McKibben, an environmentalist who has penned support for a one-child policy in the United States. In his book called “Maybe One: A Case for Smaller Families,” McKibben argues that single-child households will help space out our dangerously overcrowded population.

Sanders also offered seats to figures who have spewed hate against Israel, such as Dr. Cornel West. West, for instance, once accused Israel of launching a “crime against humanity” and said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blood on his hands.

That may be nothing, though, compared to Arab American Institute President Jim Zogby’s history of attacking our Middle Eastern ally. Zogby, another Sanders supporter who will sit on the DNC platform committee, has made it clear Israel comes second to the needs of Palestinians.

Zogby is likely the most controversial of Sanders' picks thanks to his activist work on behalf of pro-Palestinian causes. He's repeatedly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who himself hasn't always been the favorite of pro-Israel Democrats, and he's compared the "plight of the Palestinians" to the Holocaust in a 2010 column for The Huffington Post. 

Clearly, Sanders is trying to make a statement at this summer’s DNC convention. These three figures represent a radical wing in the Democratic Party and would push the party platform far left. How will that fare in the November election? How will Clinton, the presumed Democratic nominee as far as the math is concerned, be able to explain to independents her party’s radical progressive agenda?

Report: Hillary Flushes Failing 'First Woman President' Narrative

Ed Morrissey is right; this is a nice catch by The DC's Chuck Ross, who reads past the bits of this Associated Press story about Team Hillary reveling in Trump's personal attacks (which we'll revisit shortly) and flags an interesting tidbit. Based on private public opinion research conducted by the pro-abortion group EMILY's List, the Clinton campaign has dropped  its thematic focus on the candidate's status as the potential first female president. Why? Read for yourself:

Hillary Clinton stopped referring to herself as the potential “youngest woman president” during campaign stump speeches after polling showed that it was not helping with voters and donors. Hillary Clinton stopped referring to herself as the potential “youngest woman president” during campaign stump speeches after polling showed that it was not helping with voters and donors...According to the Associated Press, "Clinton dropped the reference after Emily’s List, a group that supports pro-abortion Democratic women and is backing Hillary, provided the campaign with a report showing that it did not help the former secretary of state. 'Clinton has stopped explicitly mentioning her role in history and joking about being the “youngest woman president.' That’s by design: Those kinds of direct appeals weren’t working with voters. 'De-emphasize the ‘first’ talk,' advised a research report done by Emily’s List. 'They already know she’d be the first woman president,' the report said of donors, 'but we don’t get anything by reminding them.'"

In other words, people are already aware of this dynamic and they don't especially care. Trump has ridiculed Mrs. Clinton, opining that the only asset she has going for her in the campaign is "the women's card."  Though he may claim victory over this new revelation, it's highly unlikely that the Clinton camp will de-emphasize gender altogether. Gender-based appeals and attacks are a staple of the Democratic playbook, and Clinton's in particular. She also needs to win women decisively to beat her Republican opponent, who happens to have very serious vulnerabilities among the female electorate. Morrissey examines the "gender gap" issue in his post, which deals with some of the data we looked at yesterday that demonstrates Hillary's substantial lead with women has been effectively canceled out by her deep unpopularity among men thus far:

In 2012, Mitt Romney won male voters by a 52/45 margin, not far off from the NBC/WSJ result, while Obama won women 55/44. Both results are within the margin of error from the NBC/WSJ splits. In 2004, the numbers looked different but the overall gender gap was similar; George W. Bush won men 55/44 while John Kerry won women 51/48, for a gender gap of +8 to the winner. In 2012, the gender gap was +4 to the winner, and now it’s +4 to Hillary, who leads in that poll. So the issue may be less of “backfire” than of sheer ineffectiveness. The results from the Democratic primaries have already demonstrated that much, with Bernie Sanders competing well among women, and of late winning women on his way to a string of primary victories. Those trends began forming long before Trump started focusing his attacks on Hillary Clinton. The gender card does not appear to carry much weight even among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, so why would anyone think that it would have more impact among general-election voters? That shouldn’t have taken a study from Emily’s List (!) to figure out, but … that’s Team Hillary in a nutshell.

By the way, the overall thrust of the AP piece is how Team Hillary believes Trump's signature personal attacks will benefit her campaign over the arch of the general election campaign -- which reflects the concern I expressed yesterday. Here's their theory of how this will all shake out:

Hillary Clinton has a message for Donald Trump: keep on talking. She's just weeks away from wrapping up the Democratic presidential nomination, and friends, aides and supporters describe a candidate who isn't particularly rattled by what she expects will be Trump's increasingly direct attacks on her marriage and husband's personal indiscretions. In fact, Clinton believes that she can turn Trump's deeply personal assaults to her benefit, they say, particularly among suburban women who could be crucial to her hopes in the fall. Her plan is never to engage in any back-and-forth over the scandals. Instead, she'll merely cast him as a bully and talk about policy. "I don't care what he says about me, but I do resent what he says about other people, other successful women, who have worked hard, who have done their part," she told an audience in Louisville, Kentucky, this month. Trump has made clear that nothing is off-limits.

That sentence in bold confirms my contention that there's no way Hillary is burning the gender card altogether; it's her default setting, and it's irresistibly potent against Trump. It seems as though she'll strive to shrug off personal criticisms against her (allowing surrogates to savage him in response), but constantly remind voters of Trump's history of offensive women-related statements and conduct -- including nasty shots at Megyn KellyHeidi Cruz and Carly Fiorina, over the course of the GOP primary alone. As for Trump's attitude that 'nothing is off limits,' the billionaire has already taken direct aim at allegations of sexual assault against Bill Clinton, and will no doubt lean into the Clintons' connection to the revolting creep of "pedophile island" in the weeks and months to come. I'll leave you with the presumptive GOP nominee's latest tactic, raising the issue of decades-old conspiracies about Vince Foster's death while cynically asserting that he, er, wouldn't raise the issue:

He called theories of possible foul play “very serious” and the circumstances of Foster’s death “very fishy.” “He had intimate knowledge of what was going on,” Trump said, speaking of Foster’s relationship with the Clintons at the time. “He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.” He added, “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”

In fairness, this answer was in response to a question, but it's really quite something to watch this guy pretend to dismiss a topic as out of bounds, while branding it "very serious" and "very fishy."  I won't discuss it in depth because it's unfair, but these other people certainly will, because they're convinced Vince Foster was murdered by the Clintons. He's practically begging people to Google it. As right-leaning Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson notes today, the man sure does love wild, reckless conspiracy theories.

With Shootings Up 50 Percent, Chicago Should Expect A Bloody Summer

Chicago was wracked with another string of shootings this weekend that left five people dead and 40 wounded between last Friday afternoon and Monday morning (via ABC 7 Chicago):

A city employee caught in gang crossfire was among five people killed and 40 more wounded in shootings across Chicago between Friday afternoon and Monday morning.

Chicago Police issued a statement Sunday in the middle of one of the first consistently warm weekends of the spring, as intensified city gun violence typically accompanies rising temperatures.

"As we look toward the summer months, Superintendent Johnson has made it very clear that the violence will not be tolerated - period," the statement said. "The cause of the violence traces back decades, and everyone has a role to play in fixing it - police working with parents, judges, residents, clergy, community leaders, and others. Put simply, we need more values, fewer guns and stronger sentences against violence offenders."

On Monday alone, 11 people were wounded in shootings across the city. On May 21, shootings killed one person and wounded seven in a 90-minute period. The Chicago Tribune reported that 1,382 people have been shot so far this year, 244 have been killed, and that the city is witnessing levels of violence associated with the summer months. With the number of shootings up 50 percent from last year, the Windy City could be in for a very bloody summer. We have the Memorial Day weekend coming up, which, like most holiday weekends in Chicago, is maligned by bloodshed.

This past Mother’s Day was the most violent weekend the city has seen since last September. Last year’s Memorial Day weekend ended with 12 people killed and 44 wounded in various shootings. We should expect the same this year–sadly.

NBC and ABC News Shine Spotlight On Democratic Divide, 15 Percent Of Obama Voters Supporting Trump

It’s a year of complete unpredictability this election cycle. At their own peril, many Republicans wrote off Donald Trump - he’s now the presumptive nominee. Many correctly predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the Democratic Party’s nomination (she's 85 delegates away), though the level of divisions between the Clinton and Sanders camps wasn’t projected to get this intense or fractured. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, like Trump, has amassed a loyal army that doesn’t seem eager to wave the white flag, and a significant chunk aren’t committed to backing Clinton in the general when Sanders is eventually beaten for the nomination come July.

The Sunday morning talk shows put a spotlight on the Democratic civil war that reached a new level of intensity during the chaotic Nevada Democratic Convention in Las Vegas last week. Yes, the vast majority of Sanders supporters will vote for Hillary in November, but 17 percent plan to vote for Donald Trump, according to NBC News’ Chuck Todd. ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos noted that 15 percent of Obama voters plan on voting for Donald Trump.

The Atlantic’s Molly Ball also said on CBS’ Face The Nation that she’s surprised the level of division has become this deep on the Democratic side. Moreover, she added that it’s not just a question about Clinton bringing the party together, but whether she can win over Independents and young voters — core factions in the Sanders army — who have voted for the Vermont senator in those open primary contests — many of whom have been “immune” to Clinton’s hopelessly inauthentic stump speeches. Again, we’re circling back to Hillary Clinton, the campaigner, in which she’s not Bill, and certainly not Barack Obama.

Democrats say the longer Sanders stays in the race, the more his attacks on Clinton will resonate. She’s already facing criticism for being a corrupt, a liar, not transparent, or an amalgam of the three; Sanders is hitting her for refusing to disclose her Wall Street transcripts, while Trump is calling her “crooked Hillary,” an attack that does have cross party appeal.

The Democrats’ conflict is now percolating to down ballot races, with Sanders supporting Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (D-FL) primary opponent, Tim Canova, who has raised $250,000 since he received the endorsement from the self-described Democratic socialist.

In the meantime, the Republican Party seems to be unifying around Trump at an accelerated rate. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was staunchly anti-Trump in the primaries, but he’s now trying (covertly) to get the rest of the conservative wing to back the billionaire real estate magnate. The key, though moderate, Philly suburbs have taken a liking to Trump in Pennsylvania. The National Rifle Association endorsed Trump at their Annual Meeting last weekend as well. Republicans already have their guy, and the wounds from the primary seem to be healing—while the blood sports continue on the left.

Bernie Sanders Is Running Low on Cash

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) isn't doing too hot in the fundraising department. He's got less than $6 million in the bank this month, and that isn't good for his future endeavors. Hillary Clinton has five times as much cash as he does.

Sanders has also been spending money at a much higher rate than Clinton, and his fundraising has all but evaporated.

Sanders’ rival had five times as much money, according to new Federal Election Commission filings, beginning the month with $30 million in the bank.

The two were on roughly equal fundraising footing last month, with Clinton and Sanders each raising more than $25 million. But the Vermont senator spent almost $39 million to Clinton’s $24 million, the reports showed.

This year, Sanders has averaged more than $40 million in spending per month, underlining how quickly he could blow through the cash he had on hand at the beginning of May.

Sanders has pledged to stay in the race until the DNC, which will be held the last week of July in Philadelphia. This being said, it's going to be hard to argue a viable candidacy if there's no money to be had.

While Sanders' campaign was once on fire, it's looking as though things will be Berning out pretty quickly.

Brace Yourselves, Ivy League–The Asians Are Coming

Despite the rise of qualified Asian-American applicants to Ivy League schools, the number of acceptances has dropped. The allegation that Ivy schools have discriminated against Asians has been hurled for years, but a new group is putting Dartmouth College, Brown University, and Yale University in the crosshairs by asking the Department of Education to launch an inquiry (via WSJ):

While the population of college age Asian-Americans has doubled in 20 years and the number of highly qualified Asian-American students “has increased dramatically,” the percentage accepted at most Ivy League colleges has flatlined, according to the complaint. It alleges this is because of “racial quotas and caps, maintained by racially differentiated standards for admissions that severely burden Asian-American applicants.”

The schools named in the complaint all said they used a holistic approach and evaluated each applicant individually in an effort to build a diverse class.

The complaint, said a spokesman from Brown, is without merit.

[…]

The complaint filed Monday by the Asian-American Coalition for Education, which consists of more than 100 organizations, makes many of the same points as the previous complaint against Harvard. It charges that the number of Asian-Americans at the three schools is capped and a special “just-for-Asians admissions standard” is in place. Admissions officers “often treat Asian-American applicants as a monolithic block rather than as individuals, and denigrate these applicants as lacking in creativity/critical thinking and leadership skills/risk taking.”

In an accompanying petition, the group said it filed this complaint because even if it hits a legal wall it will generate social and political pressure. After the Department of Education started investigating Harvard in 1988, its admission rate of Asian-Americans jumped to 16.1% in 1991 from 10.8%. After students filed a complaint against Princeton in 2006, its admission rate increased to 25.4% in 2014 from 14.7% in 2007.

[…]

The complaint against Harvard last year cited third-party academic research on the SAT exam showing that Asian-Americans have to score on average about 140 points higher than white students, 270 points higher than Hispanic students and 450 points higher than African-American students to equal their chances of gaining admission to Harvard. The exam is scored on a 2400-point scale.

Last year, there were some stories that highlighted the Ivy League’s supposed “Asian Problem,” specifically at Harvard, which has a history of racism within its admissions process. In the early 20th Century, the school did have caps on Jewish students to maintain its reputation as a white protestant institution of learning. I don’t think racism is at play here with this complaint filed by the Asian-American Coalition for Education, but it does highlight that affirmative action is quite unfair—in education and the workplace.

Marvel Fans Want Captain America to Have a Boyfriend

On Tuesday, one of the top trending topics on Twitter was #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend as users expressed their desire for the Marvel superhero to be in a same-sex relationship in the next film.

Many have suggested that Captain America's best friend, Bucky/Winter Soldier, would be a suitable boyfriend.

A similar trend, asking Disney to give Queen Elsa a girlfriend, hit Twitter a few weeks ago.

While I personally don't care who Captain America wants to sleep with, I do find it upsetting that the concept of platonic love has been completely tossed aside in the minds of those shipping a Cap/Bucky romance. Love doesn't have to be sexual. A relationship can be completely fulfilling without progressing to the next level.

Hillary Caught In a Mix-Up: "You Should Be Willing to Debate Anytime, Anywhere"

Hillary Clinton just can't seem to shake off Democratic rival Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary.  After being challenged by the Vermont senator to a California debate, she has announced she will not participate in the potential debate.  

However, eight years ago while she was running against Barack Obama, she adamantly expressed that presidential candidates should be willing to debate anytime, anywhere.  

“Honestly, I just believe this is the most important job in the world. It’s the toughest job in the world. You should be willing to campaign for every vote. You should be willing to debate anytime, anywhere,” Clinton said on May 23, 2008.

McAuliffe: Investigation Has 'Nothing to Do' With the Clinton Foundation

Gov. Terry McAuliffe talked to the press Tuesday morning about the breaking news he was under FBI investigation for accepting shady foreign campaign donations, particularly the $120,000 he received from a Chinese businessman, Wang Wenliang.

U.S. election law prohibits foreign nationals from donating to federal, state or local elections, CNN explains. Yet, Wang may be exonerated by the fact he has permanent resident status in the U.S.

McAuliffe said he was “shocked” by the news. Yet, he’s “very confident” Wenliang had been vetted by legal teams and the investigation will come to nothing.

The governor’s attorney, moreover, released a statement insisting the donations from Wenlaing were “completely lawful.”

Reporters then questioned McAuliffe about his relationship to the Clintons, particularly his position as a board member for the Clinton Foundation. But, he insisted he was “proud” to be a part of the foundation’s efforts and that the investigation has “nothing to do” with the foundation.

“We travel in the same circles,” he said in regards to his relationship to Hillary Clinton. “We have a lot of the same friends.”

McAuliffe, however, just held a fundraiser for the presidential candidate over the weekend.

News of the McAuliffe probe comes one day after he held a high-dollar fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. https://t.co/eGAm8QKdUK (h/t @jeneps)

— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) May 23, 2016

Is this investigation a bigger deal than McAuliffe’s composed reaction suggests?

VA Chief Refuses to Apologize After Comparing Veteran Wait Times to Rides at Disney

In case you missed it yesterday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald argued during a breakfast with reporters that Disney doesn't measure wait times, so why should his agency? 

"When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line?" McDonald said.

First, Disney takes wait times very seriously and spends thousands of dollars each year improving and shortening wait times for customers. The company goes to great lengths to measure and keep track of wait times and has even developed an app that tells ride goers how long they'll wait at a particular place inside Disney theme parks. 

Second, despite heavy criticism and the fact more than 300,000 veterans (so far) have died waiting for care, McDonald is  refusing to apologize for making the flippant comparison and those who work for him are doing damage control.

We know that Veterans are still waiting too long for care. In our effort to determine how we can better meet Veterans' needs, knowing that their satisfaction is our most important measure, we have heard them tell us that wait times alone are not the only indication of their experience with VA and that's why we must transform the way we do business," the VA released in a statement yesterday. 

VA officials have been saying for years the Department and hospitals must be "transformed" to better serve veterans waiting for care. Regardless, nothing has changed. Despite additional funding, VA wait times have doubled since the VA scandal broke two years ago. The system is still steeped in problems, including suicide hotlines going unanswered. 

If McDonald can't apologize for making an irresponsible statement about wait times, how can we expect him to change the indifferent culture still plaguing VA hospitals around the country?

Poll: Hillary 37, Trump 35, Romney 22

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.

ACU: Facebook Has Not Called to Apologize for Lack of CPAC Coverage

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?

Paul Ryan Gets His First Win: Bailing Out Puerto Rico

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.   

National Union of Students Collapsing After Pro-ISIS Leader Elected

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.

War on DWS: Sanders Raising Money to Oust DNC Chairwoman

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. 

IRS Employee Admits He Would Continue Targeting Conservative Groups: 'That's Just the Way It Is'

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.

Iran: Our Missiles Can Totally Destroy Israel ‘In Less Than Eight Minutes’

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.

Top TSA Official Removed From Duties Over Backlash For Sluggish Security Lines

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.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Criticizes Trump, Sexism in Commencement Speech

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.

Valerie Jarrett Cites 'Ending Two Wars' as Obama Accomplishments

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?

Coca-Cola: The Latest Victim Of Venezuela's Disastrous Affair With Socialism

Venezuela’s death spiral continues, as its supply of sugar has been depleted. The incident has caused all Coca-Cola production to shut down in the country, which is already reeling from hunger, looting, lack of medicine, rolling blackout, and hyperinflation (via CBS News):

Coca-Cola is halting production in Venezuela of its namesake beverage due to a sugar shortage brought on by the country's grinding economic crisis.

The Atlanta-based company said in an emailed statement Friday said that its production of sugar-sweetened beverages will be suspended in the coming days after local suppliers reported they had run out of the raw material. Sugar-free beverages are not affected and the company said its offices and distribution centers remain open in Venezuela.

The move comes as Venezuela's economy is teetering on the edge of collapse with widespread food shortages and inflation forecast to surpass 700 percent.

This is authoritarian socialism, folks. Oh, and those rolling blackouts have been wreaking havoc at what’s left of the nation’s health care system, where dead and dying babies is becoming the norm. Say what you want about capitalism, it’s the only economic force that’s been able to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. The same cannot be said for Venezuela’s 21st Century Socialism.

Today is "Beyoncé Day" In Minnesota

Today, May 23, 2016, has been declared "Beyoncé Day" in Minnesota ahead of Queen Bey's Formation World Tour performance tonight in Minneapolis.

A resolution signed by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) and Lt. Gov. Tina Flint Smith (DFL)praised Beyoncé for having a positive and inspiring influence on young girls and women.

Beyoncé recently released the album Lemonade. Her performance at the Super Bowl halftime show came under fire for reportedly being "anti-police." Several police departments have threatened to boycott her concerts and refuse to provide security.