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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

With Couric Busted For Deceptive Editing, Epix Appears To Have Yanked Her Anti-Gun Documentary

Katie Couric was caught red-handed deceptively editing an interview with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League in her new anti-gun documentary Under The Gun. Pavlich wroteabout this appalling exercise in liberal media bias. Couric questioned the group by asking “if there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons, or terrorists, from walking into a licensed gun dealer and purchasing a gun?” It was followed by an eight-second pause, which was aimed to make gun owners look like idiots. 

The director of the film, Stephanie Soechtig, responded last week by saying:

There are a wide range of views expressed in the film. My intention was to provide a pause for the viewer to have a moment to consider this important question before presenting the facts on Americans’ opinions on background checks. I never intended to make anyone look bad and I apologize if anyone felt that way.”

Couric’s statement soon followed: I support Stephanie’s statement and am very proud of the film.”

Yet, even Erik Wemple of The Washington Post noted that the pause only gave “viewers a moment to lower their estimation of gun owners,” and labeled the moment to consider portion of the statement as a “weaselly excuse.” Even National Public Radio tore into the deceptive editing, saying that it would never pass musterwith the new organization's protocols regarding interviews.

Now, Couric says she “takes responsibility” for the exchange with the VCDL, and provided the transcript of the audio that was left on the cutting room floor.

As Executive Producer of “Under the Gun,” a documentary film that explores the epidemic of gun violence, I take responsibility for a decision that misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL). My question to the VCDL regarding the ability of convicted felons and those on the terror watch list to legally obtain a gun, was followed by an extended pause, making the participants appear to be speechless.

When I screened an early version of the film with the director, Stephanie Soechtig, I questioned her and the editor about the pause and was told that a "beat" was added for, as she described it, “dramatic effect," to give the audience a moment to consider the question. When VCDL members recently pointed out that they had in fact immediately answered this question, I went back and reviewed it and agree that those eight seconds do not accurately represent their response.

VCDL members have a right for their answers to be shared and so we have posted a transcript of their responses here. I regret that those eight seconds were misleading and that I did not raise my initial concerns more vigorously.

I hope we can continue to have an important conversation about reducing gun deaths in America, a goal I believe we can all agree on.

Even with this act of contrition, Epix, which broadcasted the documentary, appears to have yanked it from circulation. Bob Owens wroteover at our sister site Bearing Arms that if you search for the documentary on Epix’s website it reads, “This movie is not currently playing on Epix.” 

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It is Time for Trump to Unify the Party

Rankings: Trump’s top 10 VP picks

By Jonathan Swan - 05-31-16 06:00 AM EDT

Speculation is raging in Washington about who might end up as Donald Trump's vice presidential pick.

Trump had said he's considering a number of candidates, but has stressed that he wants an experienced politician to help him navigate Washington.

While the presumptive nominee is likely weeks away from a decision, here are the 10 names insiders see as the most sought-after VP picks.

1. Ohio Gov. John Kasich

Kasich is a no-brainer - a candidate who seems laboratory-designed to be the perfect VP pick.

National profile? Tick.

Ability to be president immediately should something happen to Trump? Tick.

Helps in a swing state? Massive tick. In Ohio, which typically swings with the presidency, Kasich won with a 30-point margin and can boast about turning an $8 billion shortfall into a $2 billion surplus.

As Ohio's popular sitting governor, Kasich would be the best-placed person in the country to deliver the crucial bellwether state to Trump.

Kasich also has the policy depth and national security experience that Trump lacks.

He was chairman of the Budget Committee in the late 1990s, when he worked with then president Bill Clinton to balance the federal budget. He also served 18 years on the House Armed Services Committee.

The bad news: Kasich has said publicly in the strongest terms that he doesn't want to be anyone's VP. But he seems to be softening somewhat, now saying only that he's "not inclined" to be Trump's running mate, whereas previously he said there was "zero chance."

There may also be an irreconcilable personality clash between Kasich and Trump - two men whom associates say both fancy themselves as brilliant leaders. A GOP source who's known Kasich for years says he can't imagine the Ohio governor taking marching orders from anybody, least of all Trump.

Finally, Kasich is a white male - a demographic group that Trump already has in the bag.

2. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker

Corker added fuel to already burning VP rumors when he paid a visit to Trump Tower in Manhattan last week. The Tennessee lawmaker told reporters they shouldn't read anything into the meeting and that the two men mostly discussed foreign policy, but sources close to and inside the Trump campaign readily mention Corker's name when they speculate about the VP shortlist.

Corker offers Trump some obvious benefits. He's got insider cred - GOP Senators have been praising his virtues as a potential running mate - and he'd help Trump build trust on the Hill. Trump has said he wants a Washington insider to help him navigate Congress and, as a senior lawmaker, Corker would serve that purpose.

Still more useful would be Corker's foreign policy experience. He's chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Many Republican elites are terrified about handing over the most powerful military in the world to a national security neophyte, and a Trump-Corker ticket would go a long way toward comforting them.

The bad news: As a white-haired white male from Tennessee who is close to anonymous outside of Washington, Corker offers limited political value to Trump.

3. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

Trump values loyalty, and he's had no better congressional surrogate than Blackburn. Flick on a Sunday political TV show and you'll likely see Blackburn defending Trump against whatever the Democrat panelist is throwing at him.

Blackburn is telegenic and has avoided the Washington habit of speaking like a politician. She sounds, as Trump does, like a regular person. Plus, like Carly Fiorina, she can be a brutal critic of Hillary Clinton and having a woman on the ticket will help defend Trump against the Clinton campaign's charges that he and the Republican Party are anti-woman.

Blackburn also has experience in health policy and could help Trump flesh out his vague promise to replace Obamacare with something "much better." It doesn't hurt that she's expressed interest in the VP job.

The bad news: Blackburn has no foreign policy experience, which would create a GOP ticket virtually absent of national security credentials. She also represents a safe Republican state.

4. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson

Carson would be an unconventional pick, and would obviously not satisfy Trump's stated desire to choose a Washington insider who could help him cut deals on the Hill.

But Carson has a lot to offer Trump politically. He's generally well-liked across the country and among those who love him he reaches idol status. Carson has traveled America for the past few years selling his popular books and building extraordinarily deep connections with evangelical communities. He could potentially help Trump turn out two important demographics: African-Americans and the Christian Right.

Another asset Carson brings is his small-dollar fundraising network, which was the closest thing in scale on the Republican side to the fundraising machine that Bernie Sanders has built on the Left.

The bad news: Carson has already proven to be a problematic surrogate. He said in one interview that Trump has "major defects" and in another he said there were "probably" better people than Trump who could be president. Carson was also exposed during the campaign for his lack of national security experience.

5. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin

A senior source on Trump's campaign told The Hill that Trump tends to view governors more favorably than senators, because while both are politicians at least the governor has executive experience.

Fallin potentially solves two problems. She's a governor, which would bolster Trump's executive seriousness.  And she could also address Trump's much-written-about "woman problem." Only about 30 percent of American women hold Trump in favorable light, and he knows he needs to change that fast.

The bad news: Fallin has very little national name ID and wouldn't bring a swing state into play. She represents Oklahoma, where Republican nominee Mitt Romney won in a landslide in 2012.

6. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Chris Christie is almost certainly on the Trump campaign's VP list but it's unlikely he'll get the nod.

It's not that Christie is without virtues. He's a governor and former prosecutor who has national name recognition and rare political gifts. If Trump didn't run in 2016, Christie would've been the unshackled straight-talker in the GOP field. Even with Trump, Christie still managed to assert his presence and showed his ability to destroy an opponent when he took out Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) at a debate before the New Hampshire primary. He could be an effective attack dog against Hillary Clinton.

Christie also brings fundraising muscle to the Trump campaign. As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Christie barnstormed around the country and helped raise more than $100 million.

The bad news: Christie is deeply unpopular in his home state of New Jersey and has been widely lampooned since endorsing Trump. Even Trump has appeared to enjoying emasculating Christie - making jokes about his weight and bossing him around at events. Christie also belongs to a demographic group that Trump already has to himself: middle-aged white males.

7. Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst

Joni Ernst would be a surprise selection, but for all the right reasons.

She could help Trump in at least four areas: She's more than 20 years younger than Trump and is viewed within the GOP as a politician capable of making inroads with female voters and young Americans. She's a skilled media performer and Trump could feel at ease turning her loose around the country to represent his campaign.

Also, in Ernst's short time in Washington she's formed strong bonds with Republican leadership and is understood to be liked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. She'd be a rare VP that helps Trump connect with Capitol Hill without totally alienating the conservative activists who love him for being an outsider.

The bad news: Ernst is less than two years into her first term in the U.S. Senate so may be leery about ditching her Iowa constituents for higher stations so soon after being elected.

8. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich

Selecting Gingrich as VP would be a tacit acknowledgement by Trump that he's given up on reaching out to women and minorities.

A Trump-Gingrich ticket would hurl Trump down a narrow path to victory: Increasing the percentage of white voters who vote Republican at the top of the ticket.

This 'double down on whites' strategy would be the polar opposite of what the Republican National Committee imagined when it wrote its autopsy after the 2012 election. But really, what's to lose? Trump has already set fire to the RNC's playbook, and Gingrich would bring many other assets to Trump's campaign.

First off, Trump and Gingrich genuinely like each other. They've known each other a long time and talk regularly by phone. Trump is understood to seek out Gingrich's political advice.

Second, Gingrich is perhaps the only other conservative politician in America who rivals Trump for his knack of manipulating free media coverage.

And third, the former speaker remains well-connected on Capitol Hill and can help Trump navigate the hallways of Washington.

The bad news: Gingrich is a magnet for controversy and unconventional ideas. Remember the moon colony? A Trump-Gingrich ticket would test the tolerance of a fed-up electorate.

9. Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer

A sharp-tongued woman who has executive experience. What's not to like about that?

Brewer was early to endorse Trump - she did so in late February - and since then she's been a feisty advocate for the presumptive GOP nominee on national television. Brewer also seems to enjoy bashing Hillary Clinton for playing identity politics with the "woman's card." She'll be a useful weapon for Trump regardless of whether he puts her on the ticket.

The bad news: She's not well-known nationally and could be seen as past her political expiry date, having left office in 2015.

10. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions

Ted Cruz badly wanted Jeff Sessions' endorsement in the Republican presidential primaries. But Sessions went all in on Trump, expressing especially enthusiastic support for Trump's hard-line positions on immigration and trade.

Since then, Sessions has done much more for Trump than promoting and defending him on TV. Sessions and his staff have introduced Trump and his people to key lawmakers in Washington. He's done a lot to increase comfort levels with Trump on the Hill.

Sessions and his team, such as chief of staff Rick Dearborn, also play key roles in Trump's growing Washington policy shop, which is overseen by Paul Manafort. Sessions has been leading Trump's national security working group.

The bad news: Sessions as VP would offer Trump limited advantages politically. His uncompromising stance on illegal immigration is much more appealing to the Republican base than it is to a general election audience. And as a white man representing a deep red state, Sessions appears to have little capacity for outreach to women, Democrat-leaning independents and minorities.

WAIT. Did Mitch McConnell Actually Compare Donald Trump To Dwight Eisenhower?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. smiles while answering a reporter's question at a news conference following a closed-door policy meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. The Senate will take no action on anyone President Barack Obama nominates to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, Senator McConnell said as nearly all Republicans rallied behind his calls to leave the seat vacant for the next president to fill. His announcement came after Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee ruled out any hearing for an Obama pick. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. smiles while explaining that he actually believes in nothing and therefore Donald Trump is the ideal candidate for him. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite;caption by streiff)

Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gives a wide ranging interview on Hugh Hewitt’s show. According to advance transcript received by POLITICO, McConnell has this to say:

“We’ve had nominees before who were not deeply into Republican politics and philosophy,” the Kentucky Republican told radio host Hugh Hewitt, referring then to Dwight Eisenhower. “But Trump is not going to change the institution, he’s not going to change the basic philosophy of the party. And I’m comfortable voting for him because on the big things that I think have the greatest impact on the future of the country. At the top of the list is Supreme Court. I think he’ll be just fine.”

I don’t even know what to do with that. While there is truth to the statement that Ike was not a partisan candidate prior to 1952, to insinuate that he’s like Trump is ridiculous. For starters, Eisenhower never actively supported Democrat candidates and he didn’t vocally support Democrat positions. Eisenhower actually had a very strong understanding of the US government, it’s roles and functions, and some very distinct ideas about how the United States should address its problems. None of those statements can be truthfully said to apply to Trump.

In a sad way, though, McConnell is actually right in another part of his statement. Donald Trump will not change the GOP or what it stands for. What Trump has done is reveal what the GOP stands for. And for that we should show some small amount of gratitude.

Trump has demonstrated what we have suspected for years.The GOP stands for nothing more than perpetuating the political power of a relatively small oligarchy that believes in nothing more than it should be in power. So McConnell is right. Trump’s nomination may represent a defeat for individual freedom and free speech. He might finish the work Obama began on our alliances and oversee their destruction. American influence will recede and the vacuum left will be filled by all manner of truly evil people. We may be dragged into an era of unremitting attacks on US physical presence abroad. But the GOP philosophy will not be damaged by any of that because there is no domestic or international policy that is really critical to the GOP’s identity.

Donald Trump has revealed the true nature of the GOP in a way that Failure Theater and the election of Thad Cochran never could. Trump shows that the GOP is not about policy or principle or sound governance. It is about, as my colleague Dan McLaughlin puts it, “rooting for laundry;” supporting someone because they happen to temporarily wear the same team jersey.

The post WAIT. Did Mitch McConnell Actually Compare Donald Trump To Dwight Eisenhower? appeared first on RedState.

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When Washington Should Say Nothing

North Korea appears headed for a fifth nuclear test. The U.S. joined South Korea and Japan in warning Pyongyang against violating its international obligations. Just as the three governments have done for the last quarter century.

Alas, they cannot stop the North from moving forward with its nuclear program, at least at reasonable cost. Washington should learn the value of saying nothing

The U.S. stands apart from the rest of the world. American officials circle the globe lecturing other nations. Yet other governments rarely heed Washington. It doesn’t matter whether they are friends or foes. Other states act in their, not America’s, interest.

Perhaps the most famous recent “red line” set by Washington was against Syria’s apparent use of chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war. However, the president’s off-hand comment promising action never made sense, since America would have gained nothing by going to war.

Syria’s death toll has reached 400,000, the vast majority from bombs and bullets. Use of chemical weapons only marginally adds to the horror. And weakening the Assad regime effectively strengthens the Islamic State.

Anyway, since 2011 the Obama administration has said that Syrian President Bashir al-Assad must go. But the administration has done little to force him out. So much for U.S. credibility.

Washington suffers the same problem when addressing its nominal friends and allies. For instance, Washington long demanded that its allies spend and do more. But most states sheltering behind America continue to do what they always did, live off of the U.S. Washington responded by doing what it always did, whine while underwriting its nominal allies. America’s complaints had no impact on its friends’ behavior.

Now North Korea is in the news again. For a quarter century U.S. presidents—Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama—insisted that the North cannot, must not, dare not, develop nuclear weapons. The North proceeded to accumulate nuclear materials, test nuclear weapons, miniaturize warheads, and expand missile development. Which led Washington to … insist, yet again, that Pyongyang comply with its demands.

American officials should stop making demands which they are unwilling to enforce. An occasional bluff might pay dividends, but U.S. officials will retain credibility only if they exercise restraint and reserve threats for issues of serious interest to America.

As I wrote in Conservative Review: “The world always will be unmanageable and messy, well beyond America’s control. After all, the U.S. was created by a few angry, determined colonists who took on the world’s greatest power. It should not surprise their descendants that governments and peoples elsewhere are willing to similarly defy the world’s current greatest power.”

In most cases, the U.S. should say nothing and work behind the scenes to achieve its goals. Rather than highlight its impotence, Washington should demonstrate humility and prudence, virtues too often missing in U.S. foreign policy.

Read More Here

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day: Reflecting on heroes

On Memorial Day, and on peace and war

What Heroes Do