Bloomberg: Trump Has 'Erased' Hillary's Advantage By Debate Day

We've reached debate day in the 2016 presidential election and a new Bloomberg national survey shows that Donald Trump has caught up to his opponent.

The Republican and Democratic nominees each get 46 percent of likely voters in a head-to-head contest in the latest Bloomberg Politics national poll, while Trump gets 43 percent to Clinton’s 41 percent when third-party candidates are included.

These new numbers "erase" the 6-point advantage Clinton had last month, Bloomberg notes.

Clinton's email scandal and health may have something to do with her struggling poll numbers. The image of her stumbling off the curb at the 9/11 memorial are still fresh in voters' minds and pundits have questioned whether she can "power through" all 90 minutes of Monday's debate, commercial break-free.

Still, with these question marks, the Bloomberg survey also showed that 49 percent of voters think she'll perform better than the GOP nominee.

The Clinton campaign is not happy with the fact that Trump is likely to be "graded on a curve" and given passing marks just for managing to not say something outlandish.

The presidential debate will air on CNN at 9 p.m. ET live from New York's Hofstra University and will be moderated by Lester Holt.

Senator Slams Obama Admin's New Report That Compares Religious Freedom to Slavery

Last week, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report entitled "Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties." It analyzed the balance struck by federal courts in considering claims for religious exemptions from nondiscrimination laws, the report reads. Yet, many freedom-loving Americans were none too pleased to find that the document claims the term "religious liberty" is sometimes code for discrimination. (It really hammers this point home because the word discrimination is used over 700 times).

The commission argues that religious freedom is being used as a "weapon" just like in the days of slavery and Jim Crow. Religious liberty, the report reads, is being used to "undermine" the rights of American minorities. 

The report singles out RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act), which is currently in 22 states. The commission insists states change the law accordingly so it does not "unduly burden" nondiscrimination laws.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was not a fan of the report's interpretation of civil liberty. He shared his concerns in a letter to Martin R. Castro, chairman of the commission. 

"In embracing this position, however, the report adopts a stunted and distorted version of religious liberty, suggesting that claims of religious conscience are little more than a cloak for bigotry and hatred," Hatch wrote. "I reject the false picture of religious liberty presented in the report."

Hatch, a history scholar of sorts, also argued for the "primacy" of religious liberty in America, noting it dates back to our Founding Fathers.

"The Commission’s report, however, fails to acknowledge any of this," he continued. "To the contrary, the report appears to make every effort to confine, narrow, and limit religious liberty. It would have religious liberty apply to belief but not behavior, to be exercised individually in private rather than collectively in public."

Hatch concluded that the commission get a better understanding of the meaning of religious liberty before filing any more reports.

Reports: Venezuelan Hospitals Keeping Newborns in Cardboard Boxes Due To Supply Shortages

The Venezuelan heath care system is a total disaster. The lack of supplies, like soap and gloves, has caused the state of its hospital system to resemble something out of the 19th century, according to reports on the ground. The rolling blackouts have caused newborn deaths to spike in the maternity wards. Women are lining up to be sterilized rather risk becoming pregnant and raising children in such abject conditions. Now, the supply shortage has become so egregious that newborns are reportedly being placed in cardboard boxes. Keep in mind, these photos have not been verified yet, but if true—it shows how bad conditions have worsened since news organizations started reporting intermittently about the collapse of Venezuela (via CNN):

The images show newborn babies in cardboard boxes, lined up on a counter.

A hospital employee took the photos, according to the opposition group that released them.

Venezuela's opposition says the photos of the babies show a health care system in crisis.

The images purportedly were taken at the government-run Domingo Guzmán Lander Hospital in the coastal city of Barcelona, about 315 kilometers (195 miles) east of Caracas

[…]

Authorities are investigating, according to the government official who runs the institute that oversees the Barcelona hospital and others across the country.

[…]

According to statistics released by the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation in June, the country is facing a shortage of more than 80% of the medicines doctors need. And more than 13,000 doctors -- about 20% of the country's medical workforce, have left the country in recent years due to the collapse of the health sector.

Besides the medical sector, looting has become rampant among Venezuelans struggling to survive. Food has become in short supply as well, with people eating out of trashcans and supermarkets being cleared out. In some cases, Venezuelans have broken into zoos and killed animals for meat. It’s a horrific situation in a country that prided itself in being an example of so-called 21st Century Socialism.

U.S. Military: We Need More Troops In Iraq

ISIS launched a chemical attack on U.S. and Iraqi troops near Mosul this week. Blessedly, no U.S. troops were killed—and the shell containing mustard gas was described as “poorly weaponized” and “ineffective.” U.S. forces are helping Iraqi government troops retake the city. Yet, it appears that we need more men on the ground to accomplish that goal. American personnel requested an additional 500 men to be deployed (via WSJ):

The new deployment, if approved by the White House, would assist Iraqi and coalition forces in preparing for the battle to capture the northern city, the extremist group’s last major stronghold in Iraq. That fight is expected to begin as early as mid-October, U.S. officials have said.

The U.S. move would come in the wake of an operation that began Tuesday by Iraqi forces in Shirqat, a town north of Baghdad, to further degrade Islamic State supply lines into Mosul. That operation, which was announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in New York, where he is participating in U.N. General Assembly meetings, is a further indication that the Iraqi forces are preparing for the larger fight in Mosul, a city of about one million people.

The new U.S. forces would increase the number of American personnel officially deployed to Iraq from 4,400 to about 4,900. The Pentagon also maintains up to 1,500 additional U.S. forces that it doesn’t acknowledge as part of its Iraq force, most at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or on temporary assignments. The new deployment would bring the overall U.S. presence to as high as 6,400. The 500 would be in addition to roughly 400 new personnel the U.S. sent to Iraq in early September to prepare for the Mosul offensive.

The Journal added that President Obama hasn’t reviewed the deployment request.

This Poll Should Make Hillary Clinton Very Nervous

As the saying goes, "As Maine goes, so goes the nation." That being said, this new poll of Maine's 2nd congressional district is raising eyebrows: while the election was supposed to be a tight race and was considered to be a very vulnerable seat for the GOP, incumbent Bruce Poliquin (R) is leading challenger Emily Cain by a full 10 points. These numbers are a good sign not only for the Republican Party's hopes to maintain control of the House of Representatives, but also for Donald Trump's campaign and his increasing success in traditionally Democrat-leaning areas.

Until Poliquin's relatively surprising win in 2014, the last time a Republican had represented Maine's 2nd district was 1995.

From the Portland Press Herald:

Poliquin is now leading Cain by 10 percentage points among likely voters in the 2nd District, although the number of undecided voters has also increased slightly since June, according to the poll, which was conducted in September by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. The poll surveyed 231 likely voters in the 2nd District and has a margin of error of about 6 percent for the congressional race.

A poll in June by the Telegram showed the race to be virtually tied, with just a 1 percent gap between the candidates, while a poll by the Boston Globe and Colby College earlier this month showed a 5 percent gap.

I've written before about the odd role Maine is playing in the upcoming election. Maine splits its electoral votes by congressional district (technically--this has never actually happened), and the extra vote Trump is likely going to gain from the 2nd district (and possible additional two votes if he winds up winning the state) could swing the election in his favor. Trump has a very comfortable lead in the 2nd district, which went to Obama in 2012 by a full eight points.

Back in March, Mainers came out in droves to caucus for Bernie Sanders, and the Vermont senator won the votes of nearly two out of three Maine Democrats. Now, Clinton is virtually tied with Trump, and Jill Stein is polling at five percent in the Pine Tree state. The latest polls show Clinton with around 37-40 percent of the vote, which is nearly identical to what she received in the caucus--it doesn't look like she's gaining voters. Obama won the state by double digits in 2008 and 2012, and the population of Maine hasn't dramatically changed in the past four years. Clinton is simply not a popular candidate here.

Additionally, conservative Mainers who may not be fully on the Trump train just yet could be motivated to go vote to defeat a Bloomberg-backed gun control measure on the ballot--which could end up backfiring (pun not intended) horribly for the Democrats in the state.

"As Maine goes, so goes the nation"--possibly again in 2016?

Trump Meets With Netanyahu to Discuss Israel's Successful Border Fence

GOP nominee Donald Trump hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday in New York's Trump Tower to discuss a wide range of topics relating to national security. Netanyahu has been in New York for the past week for the United Nations General Assembly, meeting with President Obama for the final time as heads of state. 

One of Netanyahu's most intriguing exchanges with Trump, according to the Republican's Facebook page, was their discussion about Israel's security fence along the West Bank.

"Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed at length Israel's successful experience with a security fence that helped secure its borders," the Facebook message reads.

Trump's campaign was quick to note their discussion about the Israel barrier, considering how it seems to parallel his own plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent illegal immigration. In fact, the Israeli company that constructed the wall along the Gaza Strip is apparently eager to build Trump's wall. 

When I visited Israel in March with the Israel Collective, we received a tour of the 9-meter high security wall with the architect who built it, Danny Tirza, a former colonel in the Israel Defense Force's Central Command. He explained why the structure has been so effective in minimizing acts of terror in the region.

Will Trump be touting his meeting with Netanyahu and use Israel as an example to prove his border plan is not as farfetched as some may think?

Trump offered more details last month as to what the U.S.-Mexico wall would entail. 

Oh, Good: Investigation in Colorado Finds Dead People Are Casting Ballots

To quote the great show Scrubs, "Dead people should be dead." They also shouldn't be voting--and an investigation out in Colorado shows that quite a few dead people are doing just that. A CBS4 investigation in several Colorado counties dug up some disturbing anecdotes of people "voting" several years after they died, and questions are being raised as to how dead voters are receiving ballots.

From CBS Denver:

The CBS4 investigation has triggered criminal investigations in El Paso and Jefferson counties along with a broad investigation by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

“It’s not a perfect system. There are some gaps,” acknowledged Williams.

One of the most glaring cases was that of Sara Sosa in Colorado Springs. She died on Oct. 14, 2009. However, CBS4 uncovered voting records that showed ballots cast for Sosa in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Her husband, Miguel, died on Sept. 26, 2008. But CBS4 unearthed records showing that a vote was cast in his name the next year, 2009.

These ballots were not cast by in-person voting, but were instead cast via mailed ballots. The names of the deceased were not removed from the voter rolls, despite the fact that the voters were not actually alive to vote. At least an additional 78 dead people were still listed as "eligible" voters in Colorado.

For what it's worth, Colorado already has a voter ID law, but evidently this isn't enough to prevent all forms of fraud. Colorado's Secretary of State Wayne Williams is taking this new investigation seriously and will be taking proactive steps in order to prevent additional voter fraud in the upcoming election. Williams confirmed to CBS4 that, “It is impossible to vote from the grave legally."

Clinton Campaign: The GOP Is ‘Selectively Leaking’ Hillary Email Docs

Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook continues to appear on the media circuit and not answer questions. In an “interview” with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday morning, Mook spent more time fiddling with his earpiece than providing substantive answers.

Tapper first asked Mook for some information into Clinton’s debate prep and wondered whether her campaign is prepared for the possibility of Gennifer Flowers to sit in the audience. Mook used that question to try and prove Trump is unfit to be president.

The fact that Trump is “spending hours” before the debate bringing up President Bill Clinton’s old scandals “shows what kind of leader he’d be,” Mook said.

“It’s a warning sign before the debate has even started."

Mook added he’s concerned Trump will be “graded on a curve” during the debate, noting that he may get a positive review just because he doesn’t fly off handle.

Tapper then questioned Mook about the recent Clinton email dump. One email in particular showed an IT aide referencing the “Hillary coverup operation.”

“What’s the Hillary coverup operation?” Tapper wondered.

“The Republicans are selectively leaking documents to make Hillary look bad,” Mook responded.

The FBI conducted a comprehensive, deep investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server and concluded it did not justify grounds for indictment, he reminded Tapper. He said the public would be better served to trust the career professionals who could not find a criminal case against Clinton.

Tapper also tried to get Mook to tell voters whether or not Clinton supports sanctuary cities, to no avail.

“That’s too narrow a view,” Mook said. “We need comprehensive immigration reform.”

Suspect Arrested in Washington Mall Shooting, His Background Is Different Than Initially Reported

After an hours-long manhunt, police have arrested Arcan Cetin, 20, of Oak Harbor, Washington, suspected to be the shooter in Friday night's rampage in Cascade Mall that left five people dead. It appears Cetin is not Hispanic as authorities initially reported.

Police said the suspect appeared to be a Hispanic male in his late teens to mid-20s with a close-shaved haircut. He used a long gun similar to a hunting rifle, Francis said.

However, according to the Cetin’s father’s Facebook page, Cetin was born in Turkey. His father met and married Cetin’s mother in Turkey and the family settled in Oak Harbor, according to the Facebook page.

The police said they intend to find out his motivations.

One of the people the murderer killed was a 16-year-old cancer survivor.

Melissa Harris-Perry Wins MRC Honor For The Dumbest Quote Of The Year

Flashback to the time when Melissa Harris-Perry had a show on MSNBC, where she and Alfonso Aguilar, President for the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, were discussing Rep. Paul Ryan assuming the House Speakership. Aguilar was saying how Ryan was a great choice to become the next House Speaker, citing his work ethic. Harris-Perry agreed, but chastised Aguilar for using the term “hard worker” to describe Ryan. This apparently triggered Harris-Perry, who then said we must look at this term through relative privilege, or something. In all, saying “hard worker” could constitute a microaggression:

It’s totally absurd, which is why the Media Research Center honored Harris-Perry, whose show has since been cancelled by the liberal news network, for having the Quote of The Year at their annual gala on Thursday. Harris-Perry also won the organization’s Dan Rather Dan Rather Memorial Award for Stupidest Analysis for the exact same quote.

Here’s the full exchange:

ALFONSO AGUILAR: But let’s be fair. If there’s somebody who is a hard worker when he goes to Washington, it’s Paul Ryan. Not only works with the Republicans but Democrats. You know very well that I work on [the] immigration issue, trying to get Republicans to support immigration reform. Paul Ryan is somebody who has supported immigration reform, has worked with somebody like Luis Gutierrez. Luis Gutierrez is very respectful, speaks highly of Paul Ryan. This is somebody who’s trying to govern.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Alfonso, I feel you. But I just want to pause on one thing. Because I don’t disagree with you that I actually think Mr. Ryan is a great choice for this role. But I want us to be super careful when we use the language “hard worker,” because I actually keep an image of folks working in cotton fields on my office wall, because it is a reminder about what hard work looks like. So, I feel you that he’s a hard worker. I do. But in the context of relative privilege, and I just want to point out that when you talk about work-life balance and being a hard worker, the moms who don’t have health care who are working–

AGUILAR: I understand that.

HARRIS-PERRY: But, we don’t call them hard workers. We call them failures. We call them people who are sucking off the system.

AGUILAR: No, no, no, no.

HARRIS-PERRY: No, no. Really, ya’ll do. That is really what you guys do as a party.

AGUILAR: That is very unfair. I think we cannot generalize about the Republican Party.

HARRIS-PERRY: That’s true. Not all Republicans. That is certainly true.

The Scott Family Responds to Video Footage of Charlotte Shooting

After calls from Keith Lamont Scott's family for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to release the video footage from this week's fatal shooting, they have complied. CNN showed the dash cam video from the deadly encounter live on air on Saturday. The Charlotte police approached Scott after they discovered him with marijuana. In the video, we see the two officers beside the truck as Scott steps out of his car, seemingly retreating from the truck, before they shoot him. In the body camera video, we see another angle of the incident, with Bob Owens at Bearing Arms noting you can clearly see Scott wearing an ankle holster. (Warning: graphic)

At a press conference Saturday night, the Scott family attorney Justin Bamberg insisted the footage suggests the police officers' shooting was not justified.

"Mr. Scott doesn't appear to be acting aggressive" in the video, Bamberg says. "He doesn't lunge at the officers. It appears he has his hands by his side. The moment he is shot, he is passively stepping back."

Furthermore, he says one cannot say Scott was wielding a gun because it's impossible to identify what is in his hand at the time of the shooting.

Ray Dotch, Keith Scott's brother-in-law, said their family is dedicated to finding the "absolute unfiltered truth." 

"Unfortunately, we are left with far more questions than we have answers" after watching the video, he said. "It doesn't make sense."

Dotch also criticized the media for demanding information into Scott's demeanor. 

"We shouldn't have to humanize him in order for him to be treated fairly." 

Still No Sign of the Two Wanted Men in NY Bombing

Three days after the FBI released images of two men walking away from the scene that left over 20 injured in the suburb of Chelsea, Manhattan, no one has come forward with any information. Investigators say the two men picked up a suit case form the scene that contained one of the improvised explosive devices used by Ahmad Rahimi to kill Americans.  

The men apparently saw the abandoned suitcase on 27th Street and found the pressure cooker inside that had been fashioned into a bomb. They set the device on the sidewalk and left with the suitcase.

One possibility that investigators have proposed is that the men were tourists, and may have already left the country.

The New Pro-Trump Cruz: I Forgive Him For Insulting My Wife

After a disastrous appearance at the Republican National Convention in July, where he failed to endorse Republican nominee Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) finally endorsed the billionaire on Friday—probably disappointing his die-hard supporters (or forcing them desperately rationalize this decision) and confirming that he’s a snake oil salesman to his detractors, who have long felt that Ted Cruz is all about Ted Cruz. Some have brought up the fact that Cruz is endorsing the man who led a pretty nasty campaign against his wife. Well, the new, improved pro-Trump Cruz is ready to forgive Trump (via The Hill):

Cruz told the Texas Tribune Friday he was ready to move past that.

"I have spent several months thinking about it, praying about the right course of action, and I’ve discussed the right course of action with both Heidi and my dad, both of whom I love with all my heart," he said. "And all three of us have decided to forgive the past and my focus in making this decision was on trying my best to do the right thing for the country."

Let’s also not forget that Trump and Cruz had their own spat during the primaries. Is this endorsement too little, too late? For those who think that Cruz is a shameless opportunist, the timing is everything. Cruz decided to join Team Trump when the polls tightened, and it looked as if he could win with continued discipline. Guy noted that this endorsement probably means more to donors and the RNC, and that’s probably a safe bet. For many, especially Trump supporters, they have moved on, watching their candidate heavily chip into Clinton’s lead in the polls. The Cruz endorsement is a “meh” moment, a mere after thought.

Gary Johnson is Losing It—Or Maybe He Never Had It

Editor's Note: This piece was authored by our new contributor Erika Haas.

The former Governor of New Mexico and the Libertarian presidential candidate was once seen as a potentially viable alternative to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Fiscally conservative, socially liberal; not a perfect candidate, but it seemed like a medium voters in the upside down could deal with. However, then he went and bit his tongue—literally.

During an interview with MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt, Johnson was asked if thought he could pull even with Trump and Hillary if he had the opportunity to join them on the debate stage. Johnson started out with a rather professional response.

“I do,” he responded. “And it wouldn’t have anything to do with my debate performance, either. It would just be that people would recognize that there’s another choice and that there would be an examination of me and Bill Weld as who we are and what we’ve done and not based on that.”

But then things got weird. At first, you may have thought Johnson got stung by a bee, trying his best to carry on as his tongue swelled out of his mouth. “I think I could stand up there for the whole debate and not say anything,” he managed to mumble. And then, as Kasie Hunt struggled not laugh, you realize he’s just being odd. Really, really odd. 

The fumble didn’t come at the best time, as Johnson is still trying to recover from the Aleppo blunder earlier this month. During another interview with MSNBC, Johnson was asked what he would do about Aleppo to which he responded, “What is Aleppo?” Johnson was utterly clueless about the war-torn city, which has become the focal point of the Syrian conflict. Foreign policy is clearly not Johnson’s area of expertise. Then again, neither are environmental issues. 

Mother Jones resurrected a video of Johnson at a 2011 National Press Event in which he discusses his “long-term view” on climate change. A very long-term view. “In billions of years the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth, right? So global warming is in our future.” In other words, why worry about climate change when the Earth is going to end in a few billion years anyway?

It seems Johnson has taken the Bobby McFerrin approach to politics—“Don’t worry. Be Happy. Cause every little thing is gonna be alright.” 

Well, Johnson may want to start worrying because his campaign may no longer be alright.

NAACP Announces DOJ Investigation into Charlotte Shooting, Video Could Be Released Today

UPDATE (6:49 p.m. ET): The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has released the body camera footage.

UPDATE: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney has confirmed his force will release the body camera video and dash camera video of the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. In a press conference on Saturday, Putney said Scott was "absolutely in possession of a handgun."

***Original Post***

At a press conference in Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday, the NAACP and members of the clergy announced that the Department of Justice is launching an investigation into the police shooting death of an African-American male named Keith Lamont Scott.

The NAACP leaders also called for the authorities to release the tape of the shooting in order to be as transparent as possible. 

"We're pleading for transparency," they noted.

The video, a local reporter notes, may be released as soon as today.

While protests in Charlotte started off violent and even resulted in one civilian death, the past two nights have been largely peaceful.

Trump Threatens to Bring Controversial Guest to Debate

UPDATE: It appears she has accepted his invitation.

***Original Post***

One of Hillary Clinton's most outspoken surrogates, Mark Cuban, will be sitting front row center at Monday night's first presidential debate between her and GOP nominee Donald Trump. Cuban is a successful businessman who owns the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and is known for his show "Shark Tank." Since endorsing Clinton, Cuban has consistently insulted Trump and questioned his business record.

His presence at Monday's presidential head-to-head, pundits surmise, is meant to distract or perhaps even intimidate the Republican. But, Trump indicated on Saturday that he's not afraid of Cuban and threatened to invite a controversial guest of his own to be his neighbor.

Flowers, you may recall, was revealed to have had an affair with former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

If the Twitter wars are any indication, Monday night's debate will be pretty entertaining, to say the least. The first debate takes place at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York and will air on CNN at 9 p.m. ET.

'A Great Nation Does Not Hide its History': Presidents Bush, Obama Celebrate Opening of African-American History Museum in DC

The National Museum of African American History and Culture officially joined the Smithsonian collection on Saturday. The museum, which has been over a decade in coming, boasts 37,000 objects from the contributions of generations of African-Americans. 

Three U.S. presidents were in attendance at the museum's opening ceremony. George W. Bush and wife Laura joined President Obama and the First Lady on stage, while Bill Clinton enjoyed the festivities as an audience member. 

Bush, who authorized the construction of the museum in 2003, said he was "honored" to be there. 

"I hope all our fellow citizens come and look at this place," he said. "It is fabulous." 

Bush, like many of the day's speakers, saved special recognition for the museum's Founding Director Lonnie Bunch. Bush said that Bunch's "drive, energy and optimism" were key in making the ambitious project a reality.

Bush said that while he and Congress had many points of contention during his presidency, "this is one issue where we strongly agreed." The museum, he said, is a national treasure that "now stands where it has always belonged - on the National Mall."

The significance of the museum, the former president said, is three-fold. One, it shows a "commitment to truth." 

"A great nation does not hide its history," he said. "It faces it's flaws and corrects them."

"The price of our union was America's original sin," he added. 

Two, the museum proves America's capacity to change. "The journey to justice is not yet complete," he noted. 

Thirdly, Bush said the new museum showcases the talent of some of our finest Americans, sharing that he's drawn some personal inspiration from guitarist Chuck Barry and baseball player Willie Mays.

"No telling of American history is neither complete or accurate without acknowledging" these Americans, Bush concluded.

President Obama echoed many of Bush's sentiments in his remarks. 

The museum, the president explained, does not just represent our most obvious triumphs, but how we’ve “wrested triumph from tragedy.”

The museum’s story, he surmised, needs to be told now more than ever.

While the building and the history it tells “cannot solve gun violence” or discrimination, “it has shown us America has moved forward.”

The president weighed in on current race relations, especially the relationship between police officers and civilians. He acknowledged we have far to go to heal that relationship, but that it is possible for an activist to wear an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt while still grieving for fallen cops.  

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a former civil rights icon, also spoke, noting he hopes museum visitors will come away with a greater understanding of the dignity and worth of every human being.

Other notable guests included actors Samuel L. Jackson, David Oyelowo, and Robert De Niro, producer Shonda Rhimes, singer Patti Labelle, and Oprah Winfrey, who donated millions to the museum as it was being constructed.

Members of the Bonner family helped the Obamas ring in the museum with the Freedom bell from the First Baptist Church of Williamsburg, VA.

Patti Labelle Sneaks in Hillary Endorsement During Performance at African-American Museum Opening

At the end of her performance of "A Change is Gonna Come" at the opening ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, singer Patti Labelle snuck in a presidential endorsement.

Most of the event, however, was beyond politics. President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama joined each other onstage and acknowledged each other's efforts to ensure the museum's presence on the National Mall. 

The museum opened its doors on Saturday, officially joining the Smithsonian.

Military Leaders: No One Asked Our Advice on Iranian Hostage Payment

The Obama administration had no intention of seeking the military's advice when they sent that controversial $1.7 billion payment to Iran the same day four American hostages were released back to the States, it would appear. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) made the discovery at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday. At the meeting, he asked both Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford about any information they may be able to provide about the payment, only to find they apparently had never been briefed on the reported ransom. 

Cruz's office provided the relevant exchanges in a press release.

Sen. Cruz: General, in your judgment, was flying $1.7 billion in unmarked cash to give to the Iranian government incentivizing positive behavior from Iran?

Gen. Dunford: Senator, I’m not trying to be evasive, but I don’t know the details of that arrangement, and it really was a political decision that was made to provide that money…

Sen. Cruz: Does it concern you, if the United States is now in the business of paying ransom to terrorist governments for releasing Americans, the incentive that we face for future terrorists and future terrorist governments to attempt to kidnap and hold for ransom Americans?

Sec. Carter: …I don’t know all the details of it, and the Chairman and I were not involved in that. It is a decision that was taken by the law enforcement and the diplomatic community…

Cruz slammed the White House for its history of "neutering" itself and "ignoring one transgression after another from our enemies." Congress is making the effort to prevent ransom payments to Iran in the future, with the House passing the Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act (H.R. 5931) on Thursday night.

Oh, Obama Was Emailing Clinton Using A Pseudonym…So He Knew About Her Private Server Then, Right?

Well, there was another Friday document dump, this time the FBI’s notes on interviews they conducted with Hillary Clinton’s aides. Nearly 200 pages worth of notes included interviews conducted with Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and Huma Abedin. Cheryl Mills, who served as Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, was recently offered partial immunity for her interview with the FBI. The move drew criticism from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chair of the House Oversight Committee regarding how the FBI dealt with these interviews, noting the disturbing instances in which immunity deals were handed out like candy. Furthermore, there’s a glaring conflict of interest: Mills was interviewed as a witness in the investigation into Clinton, while simultaneously serving as her lawyer.

Yet, the latest detail with this document dump is that President Obama was corresponding with Clinton on her private, unsecured, and unauthorized email server using a pseudonym, while she was secretary of state (via Politico):

The 189 pages the bureau released includes interviews with some of Clinton’s closest aides, such as Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills; senior State Department officials; and even Marcel Lazar, better known as the Romanian hacker “Guccifer.”

In an April 5, 2016 interview with the FBI, Abedin was shown an email exchange between Clinton and Obama, but the longtime Clinton aide did not recognize the name of the sender.

"Once informed that the sender's name is believed to be pseudonym used by the president, Abedin exclaimed: 'How is this not classified?'" the report says. "Abedin then expressed her amazement at the president's use of a pseudonym and asked if she could have a copy of the email."

The State Department has refused to make public that and other emails Clinton exchanged with Obama. Lawyers have cited the "presidential communications privilege," a variation of executive privilege, in order to withhold the messages under the Freedom of Information Act.

The report doesn't provide more details on the contents of that particular email exchange, but says it took place on June 28, 2012, and had the subject line: "Re: Congratulations." It may refer to the Supreme Court's ruling that day upholding a key portion of the Obamacare law.

T. Becket Adams at The Washington Examiner noted that this little nugget raises questions about whether President Obama was truthful when he said he found out about Clintons’ email server when it was first reported in the news last year:

The latest revelation from the FBI adds to a growing list of questions about Obama's claim in 2015 that he didn't learn of Clinton's private email server until it was on the news.

"My emails, the Blackberry I carry around, all those records are available and archived," the president said in an interview with CBS News' Bill Plante. "I'm glad that Hillary's instructed that those emails about official business need to be disclosed."

Asked when he learned of Clinton's private emails, Obama responded unequivocally, "the same time that everybody else learned it through news reports."

The White House and the State Department have yet to explain why the FBI believes the president used a pseudonym in emails to Clinton. Further, neither the White House nor the State Department have ever said anything about former secretary of state notifying the president's team that she had "changed her primary email."

Katie wrote in February that the story at the time was Obama did correspond with Clinton, but was unaware that her email server was private. Now, we know that the Obama White House knew full well about the server’s existence due to the change in her primary email.

The White House was apparently aware that Hillary Clinton was using a private email account because her staff said so. When Clinton changed her "primary email address," the White House was informed so that Clinton could still send emails directly to President Obama, Clinton aide Huma Abedin told the FBI during its investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server. Obama could only receive emails from designated accounts, and Clinton's was one of them, Abedin said. Accounts that weren't authorized would be rejected by the White House server.

Okay—so many thought this was true from the get-go probably, but now we have documented evidence that the president might have known about this a lot sooner than when he spoke about this matter with CBS News, even going so far as to deploy some secrecy of his own by using a fake name over an unsecure server. At what point did the president know about the private server? Why did he use a fake name, did he know the server was unsecure? Did the email from June of 2012 deal with the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare? There are a lot of questions with these latest documents, which will be answered in due time, but not immediately since these notes were released to the public at a rather odd time: when all of the press left for the weekend.

Washington State: Gunman Kills At Least Three People In Mall Shooting; UPDATE: Now Four People

UPDATE (11:30 a.m. ET): Lt. Chris Cammock of the Mount Vernon Police Department provided an update on the manhunt for the shooter who killed five people in the Cascade Mall Friday night.

The suspect, Cammock said at a press conference on Saturday, appears to be in his late teens and early twenties. His whereabouts are unknown. The authorities do not have an identity and are asking for the community’s help.

There is no evidence to point to terrorism at this time, authorities said.

UPDATE: The death toll is up to five, according to Washington State Patrol. A manhunt for the gunman is currently underway. He was last seen leaving the mall and walking toward Interstate 5.

UPDATE: USA Today reports the death toll is now four people.

UPDATE II: Suspect is a Hispanic male (via AP):

Police searched Saturday for a gunman who opened fire in the makeup department of a Macy's store at a mall north of Seattle, killing four females, authorities said.

Washington State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Mark Francis said police were seeking a Hispanic man wearing black and armed with a rifle last seen walking toward Interstate 5.

"We are still actively looking for the shooter," Francis said at a news conference. "Stay indoors, stay secure."

UPDATE III: Gov. Inslee reacts to the shooting:

***Original Post***

Last night, a gunman opened fire at the Cascade Mall in Washington State, killing at least three people and injuring two others. Authorities have a picture of the suspect who opened fire in the Macy’s store inside the complex. Authorities have no motives and this doesn’t appear to be a terrorist-related incident. The shooter, a Hispanic male, remains at large. 

The FBI and ATF are currently assisting local law enforcement as well. The mall is 434,000 square feet. Police have been searching the shopping center with multiple teams to full secure the area. The original death toll was originally reported to be four people, but it's since been revised down to three (via NBC News):

A gunman remains at large after killing at least three people in a shooting at a mall in Washington state on Friday night, Washington State Police said.

Authorities initially said four people had died in the shooting, but later revised the number to say that three women had been killed and one man was critically injured. One other woman suffered non-life threatening injuries.

[…]

Reports about a shooting started coming in around 7 p.m. local time, Washington State Trooper spokeswoman Heather Axtman said.

There is no motive at this time and no indication that the event was terror related, Axtman said.

Bernie Sanders' Brother Is Running For David Cameron's Old Seat In Parliament

Bernie Sanders' brother Larry, who was a DNC delegate for the Democrats Abroad, is running for David Cameron's old seat in the British Parliament. Larry Sanders is a member of the Green Party and is a retired social worker.

Cameron resigned from Parliament on September 12, saying that his presence had become a distraction. Cameron stepped down from his position as prime minister following the successful "Brexit" vote.

Larry Sanders moved to the U.K. in the late 60s when he married his late wife, Margaret. He formerly was a councillor for the Green Party. He currently works as the Green Party's spokesperson on health.

From The Guardian:

Now his brother Larry, 82, a retired social worker and former Green party councillor, plans to attempt a similar feat for the Greens in the byelection for the rock-solid Conservative constituency of Witney.

It will be a tall order. “It hasn’t always been the richest turf for the Green party,” a party spokesman said. To become MP for Witney, he would have to overturn Cameron’s 22,700-vote majority in a seat where the last Green candidate won just 5.1% of the vote.

But as Sanders points out, he has branding on his side. “Because of Bernard, I’ve become famous, and I will get more attention from the media, and that’s to be used to get the Green party’s policies across,” he told the Guardian.

Granted, Larry Sanders' chance of winning Cameron's seat aren't great--roughly about the same chance Bernie Sanders had of winning the Democratic Party's nomination. The last Green Party candidate won just over five percent of the vote in Cameron's old constituency.

The War On Guns: Your Guide To Fighting False Media Narratives And Anti-Second Amendment Rhetoric

Dr. John Lott is the go-to expert when it comes to crime data and Second Amendment rights. His studies from the Crime Prevention Center have been cited in numerous pieces, including ones published here on Townhall, about the Left’s incessant, and often ridiculous, efforts to strip Americans of their Second Amendment rights. His studies have proven that contrary to what the anti-gun Left says about concealed carry holders, they’re actually more law-abiding than law enforcement. It proved to be useful data when the Violence Policy Center, an anti-gun outfit, decided to push the narrative that concealed carry holders were killers by fudging the data between convictions and trials pending. The VPC combined the two to cook the books. As any lawyer would know, there’s an explicit difference between a conviction and a pending trial. He’s also taken a stab at the whole myth about background checks, which isn’t the magic bullet to creating safer communities.

In Oregon, Christopher Harper-Mercer was able to kill nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg last year. Oregon has a universal background check law for all gun purchases. Yet, Lott took this talking point to task in 2013, when Congress was mulling a universal background check bill by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) post-Newtown. For starters, the media was blitzing the scene, rehashing the 40 percent myth—the false claim that 40 percent of all gun sales are performed without a background check—and delved into the realm of private purchases. Lott noted that the 40 percent myth is based on very old data, with a sample size that isn’t worth considering for any serious academic review. Also, the sales in the 251-person survey from which the 40 percent myth is derived were based on sales before the Brady bill mandated background checks on gun sales. Second, most private sales where background checks aren’t performed are mostly relegated to family purchases and fall within the low single digits overall. Other than that, there’s really no hard data on private sales.

Yet, for everything that Dr. Lott has done in various publications and studies over the years, he’s now compiled in one simple book: The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies. It’s one massive triggering event for any pro-gun control liberal. It details how expanding background checks doesn’t cut down on gun violence; how gun free zones leave innocent Americans vulnerable, thus making them prime targets for mass shooters; how the federal government and the institutional left are funding bogus health studies to undercut our Second Amendment rights; why women concealed carry holders are surging; and how the media is a total disaster when it comes to gun laws and the lexicon within the firearms industry that could prevent egregious mistakes in reporting gun crimes. For example, how many times have you heard a news organization demonize semiautomatic weapons, which are really quite readily available for civilian use? In fact, the vast majority of gun owners in America probably own a semiautomatic firearm.

Here are some excerpts from his book relating to the media spin and the failure of gun registries, which is one of the main courses served by anti-gun liberals as some way to help make communities safer. In actuality, it sends the message that gun owners are criminals in waiting, and that to exercise one’s right to own a gun requires them to submit their personal information to the government. It’s atrocious:

The Media Spin

The media not only ignores positive examples of defensive gun use; news reports about the scientific side of the gun control debate are just as unbalanced. Coverage generally focuses on interviewing pro-gun control academics and questioning a gun shop owner or an NRA spokesperson for the other side of the argument. Of course, the New York Times will never run a news article on studies that find that guns save lives. Even when they write about studies supporting gun control, newspapers choose only to present comments by academics who support gun control. These articles give the impression that objective, qualified scientists are concerned about using gun control to save lives, while those with a profit or some other ulterior motive are willing to say anything to keep selling these lethal weapons. One of my books, The Bias Against Guns (2003), went through example after example of these one-sided reports in the media.

Unfortunately, little has changed. In January 2016, CNN ran a lengthy news story on studies that found gun control to be effective in preventing suicides. It wasn’t just my academic research that reporters ignored on this topic; there was also no mention of the National Research Council’s research showing that suicidal individuals had merely ��substituted other methods of suicide.” Nor did the studies mentioned by CNN give any consideration to research which found that firearm suicides are not so much the product of higher gun ownership as factors related to rural areas (e.g., older men in rural areas are more likely to commit suicide because of the large male-to-female imbalance).

Consider a December 2015 Deseret News article on how to curb mass shootings. The only academics interviewed were gun control advocates, namely Garen Wintemute of the UC-Davis Violence Prevention Research Program and Mark Rosenberg of the Task for Global Health. The only opposing perspective came from National Rifle Association spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen. Likewise, a January 2016 story in the New York Times on Obama’s new proposed gun control regulations balanced discussions with a pro-gun control professor and Bloomberg’s Everytown with some federally licensed gun dealers and gun owners.

[…]

Registration Failures

Whether in Canada, Hawaii, Chicago, or Washington, D.C., police are unable to point to a single instance of gun registration aiding the investigation of a violent crime. In a 2013 deposition, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said that the department could not “recall any specific instance where registration records were used to determine who committed a crime.”

The idea behind a registry is that guns left at a crime scene can be used to trace back to the criminals. Unfortunately, guns are very rarely left at the scene of the crime. Those that are left behind are virtually never registered—criminals are not stupid enough to leave behind guns registered to them. In the few cases where registered guns were left at the scene, the criminal had usually been killed or seriously injured.

Canada keeps some of the most thorough data on gun registration. From 2003 to 2009, a weapon was identified in fewer than a third of the country’s 1,314 firearm homicides. Of these identified weapons, only about a quarter were registered. Roughly half of these registered guns were registered to someone other than the person accused of the homicide. In just sixty-two cases—4.7 percent of all firearm homicides—was the gun identified as being registered to the accused. Since most Canadian homicides are not committed with a gun, these sixty-two cases correspond to only about 1 percent of all homicides.

We must always be vigilant. Hawaii became the first state to require its gun-owning residents to be entered into a federal database. California keeps adding more anti-gun measures on its books as well. Lott’s book serves as a how-to guide in fighting these pernicious narratives that seek to undercut one of our most vital civil liberties. At the same time, liberal Democrats, especially Obama, have been the best sales team for guns over the past eight years, with over 100 million sold since 2009. We’ve seen gun sales break records consistently for months, as talk of new gun control measures from the Hill send law-abiding Americans flocking to their local FFL. Now, everyone has the ultimate guide to knowing facts about guns, the laws, the studies, and the politics to fight these left wing narratives about firearms wherever they may appear. Support for gun rights is at its highest point in 25 years, but you can never let your guard down against those who keep pushing these lies about the Second Amendment—looking at you Hillary Clinton.

Yes, South Korea Does Have a Plan to Assassinate Kim Jong Un

After Kim Jong Un and North Korea conducted their biggest nuclear test yet, South Korea is bolstering its plan to "eliminate" the dictator should they feel threatened by nuclear weapons, according to CNN.

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo revealed the information in parliament on Thursday, saying that a special forces unit is already on standby.  

"South Korea has a general idea and plan to use precision missile capabilities to target the enemy's facilities in major areas, as well as eliminating the enemy's leadership," he said.

North Korea has spent months aggressively building up its nuclear missile program, launching bout sea and and land-based test runs.

Following South Korea's comments about eliminating Kim Jong-un, North Korea has hit back, accusing the US and South Korea of driving the situation in the Korean Peninsula "to the uncontrollable and irreversible phase of the outbreak of a nuclear war."

Earlier this week, the U.S. Air Force flew B-1B strategic bombers over the region, closer than any U.S. strategic bomber had ever flown.  Pyongyang said it was a "vicious scenario to make a preemptive nuclear strike at the DPRK," according to state-run news agency KCNA.

John Lewis Not Concerned About Punishment for Dems' Gun Control Sit-in

Earlier this summer, House Democrats refused to leave the House floor for nearly 26 hours in a protest over inaction on gun control legislation. 

After the spectacle, House Speaker Paul Ryan denounced their action as a politically motivated fundraising scam. 

They also happen to be hypocrites. Matt made the intriguing discovery that over two dozen of the liberal protesters were gun owners.

The Democrats who staged the sit-in were in violation of chamber rules, interrupting the business schedule and unlawfully using their cell phones on the House floor. GOP leaders suggested they may hit the Democrats with fines.

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), however, is not scared. At a Politico Playbook event earlier this week, he said bring it on.

“My feeling is, I’ve been punished before. If they want to punish us, bring it on,” Lewis (D-Ga.) said. “If we violated the rules, the tradition of the House, the order of the House, punish us. We’re ready to be punished and then we’ll see what happens.”

There you have it. Democrats are willing to risk it all in order to enforce gun control.