Nikki Haley: I Don't Want To Be VP

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) has released a statement in response to questions about being the potential running mate to presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. According to Haley, while she's flattered by the questions, she doesn't want the job.

Haley had endorsed Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz earlier in the primary season, but will support whoever the Republican nominee is in the general.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says she's "flattered" but "not interested" in being vice president.

Haley received questions again about the issue Wednesday, the day after Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee for president. Her name was mentioned in some media reports as a possible pick for the Trump ticket in the fall.

But Haley deflected those questions, saying, "my plate is full."

She did add that she will "support the Republican nominee for president" out of her "great respect for the will of the people," but did not mention Trump by name in a statement released from her office.

It is unknown when Trump will announce his VP pick, but he's certainly in the vetting process following his victory last night.

Watch: All The Pundits, Politicians, and Consultants Who Said Trump Wasn’t Going To Be The Republican Nominee

Ok—I’ll admit to it: I was wrong. I was wrong that Trump wouldn’t be the Republican nominee. With Cruz and Kasich knocked out of the race, Trump has a clear road to nab 1,237 delegates before the Republican Party heads into their nominating convention in July. So, I’m here to eat my words, but so do a lot of other people. Watch Mitt Romney, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Kristol, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Karl Rove, and others tout that Trump will never be the Republican nominee. It’s time to acknowledge our mistakes, folks. Moreover, the anti-Trump wing of the GOP never took the billionaire seriously. That turned out to be a fatal error.

We shouldn’t dwell too much on what could have been, as the GOP primary race is over. But if there is some truth to the notion that Trump could have been rendered irrelevant if attacked sooner by his Republican opponents, then the anti-Trump wing does bear some responsibility for failing to pull the trigger. And when they did, it was obscenely too late. So, here’s to licking our wounds.

Cuban Dissident Arrested For Waving American Flag As Cruise Ship Enters Havana

President Obama had a historic visit to Cuba in March, and an American cruise ship has just entered Havana, Cuba—but it has yet to yielded any freedom dividends for the Cuban people. As the cruise ship entered Havana harbor, a lone dissident waved the American flag, which prompted his arrest (via Fox News Latino):

A Cuban dissident was arrested on Monday for waving the American flag near the Havana pier where the Carnival cruise ship Adonia docked on Monday.

The man, Daniel Llorente, was holding the flag across his back at the waterfront as the ship approached. He was detained after making a speech about liberty on the communist island. It’s unclear what charges were leveled against him.

A video of the event shows a crowd of tourists and locals gathering around Llorente, and him getting into a verbal exchange with an unnamed woman. The arrest was first reported by Noticias Martí, a Miami-based news organization focused on Cuba.

“You’re making a clown of yourself,” the woman told him. “The American flag. What are you doing, for God’s sake?”

He responded testily.

“What are you doing here? Hypocrite,” Llorente said. “This is a symbol of American pride.”

Prior to Obama’s arrival to the island nation in March, dozens of dissidents were arrested hours before Air Force One touched down. It also coincided with a horrific terrorist attack in Brussels, in which the president decided to stay, watch a baseball game, and do the wave with Raul Castro. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called the trip a “disgrace,” which could also be applied to Mr. Llorente’s arrest.

Kasich Exits 2016 Race, Says He Leaves With A Deeper Faith That The Lord Will Show Him The Way Forward

Christine wrote about it earlier today, and now it’s official. Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich is out of the race less than 24 hours after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) made his exit after a devastating loss to billionaire Donald Trump in last night’s Indiana primary.

Kasich thanked his wife, Karen, whom he said endured and accentuated his political career. He also thanked his volunteers, who he described as an “amazing” group of 800 people who were there for him in New Hampshire, Michigan, and South Carolina.

“They were believers … I could never thank them enough,” he said. Kasich added that his mother always said, “Never forget the volunteers, Johnny.”

The governor then went into various anecdotes concerning his presidential campaign, the people he met along the way, and the residents of New Hampshire who he said he will never forget. He gave a special thank you to the people of Ohio for giving him the opportunity to be a leader in the Buckeye State. He described his governorship and his presidential campaign as the greatest professional experience in his lifetime, and made sure to tell every voter he encountered how great Ohio is doing.

Kasich then turned to what the country needs to do. He said that we know we need to lower taxes for individuals and businesses, and have a realistic path to balance the budget. He called for a balanced budget amendment. He also said that politicians must work to do the right thing, ignore the pollsters, and “overcome the fear of reelection.” As he’s said on the campaign trail, Kasich also noted that we need to shift power, money, and influence back to the people; it’s time to make America run from the bottom up again.

In closing, he said, “as I suspend my campaign today, I have renewed faith, deeper faith, that the Lord will show me the way forward and fulfill the purpose of my life. Thank you, and God bless.”

Kelly Ayotte to Back Donald Trump

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), who is up for re-election this year, will be supporting Donald Trump in the general election despite past hesitation to associate herself with the candidate.

Trump won New Hampshire by a large margin, getting more than double the amount of votes that second-place John Kasich received.

In March and again as recently as last week, Ayotte spokeswoman Liz Johnson told WMUR.com that Ayotte “intends to support the Republican nominee. However, she would like to see how the process plays out.”

Now that the process has virtually played out, and the Republican National Committee has recognized Trump as the presumptive nominee, Johnson told WMUR.com on Wednesday morning in a brief statement:

"As she's said from the beginning, Kelly plans to support the nominee."

How actively Ayotte would support Trump remains to be seen. Spokeswoman Johnson was asked if Ayotte would campaign with Trump in New Hampshire but did not answer. She also did not say if Ayotte believes Trump will have any effect on her fortunes in the Senate race.

Interesting. Ayotte is certainly a vulnerable senator this election cycle, and this could be an effort to curry the favor of the New Hampshire GOP.

Virginia Republicans Sue McAuliffe For Allowing Felons to Vote

Earlier this month, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) overturned a 150-year old law and gave convicted criminals in the state the right to vote. The liberal leader argued he had signed the executive order as a means of defending minorities’ civil rights, but Republicans knew better. McAuliffe, who has been friends with the Clintons for years, knows Hillary Clinton is likely to pick up the majority of those votes in the general election. The Virginia GOP is not about to let McAuliffe get away with his politically motivations and are suing him, with the help of a former Reagan aide.

Leading the charge for the lawsuit will be Charlie Cooper, President Ronald Reagan’s former assistant attorney general who was once dubbed the “Republican lawyer of the year.” Virginia GOP officials explained their decision to hire Cooper and why their effort is so critical. 

“We have retained Mr. Cooper to examine the legal options to remedy this Washington-style overreach by the executive branch,” said Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City. “Mr. Cooper is an extremely qualified attorney, and we have every confidence he will proceed prudently, judiciously and expeditiously.”

Brian Coy, a spokesman for McAuliffe, said the governor is “disappointed that Republicans would go to such lengths to continue locking people who have served their time out of their democracy.”

After McAuliffe announced he was restoring felons’ right to vote, critics asked: Okay, what about their Second Amendment rights? 

Yowza: Federal Regulations Are Costing Americans Insane Amounts of Money

For decades the federal government has become an increasing burden and hidden tax on the American people, free enterprise and prosperity through regulation. Republicans and Democrats are to blame. Under the Obama administration, federal regulation has increased significantly, hampering much needed economic recovery. Federal regulation costs money. A lot of it. 

According to a new report released by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, federal government regulation is costing Americans a whopping $1.885 trillion per year. That breaks down to $15,000 per household.

"The national debt now stands at $18.9 trillion.11 That is alarming. Yet the federal government’s reach extends well beyond Washington’s taxes, deficits, and borrowing. Federal environmental, safety and health, and economic regulations affect the economy by hundreds of billions—even trillions— of dollars annually in addition to the official dollar outlays that dominate the federal policy debate," the report states. "Firms generally pass the costs of some taxes along to consumers. Likewise, some regulatory compliance costs borne by businesses will find their way into the prices consumers pay, affect the wages workers earn, and lead to lower levels of growth and prosperity."

Here are the key findings from the report, bolding is mine:

-Federal regulatory costs are now at $1.885 Trillion.
 -If one assumed that all costs of federal regulation and intervention flowed all the way down to households, U.S. households would “pay” $14,842 annually on average in a regulatory hidden tax. The “tax” exceeds every item in the budget except housing. More is “spent” on embedded regulation than on health care, food, transportation, entertainment, apparel, services, and savings.
-The George W. Bush administra­tion averaged 62 major regulations annually over eight years, while the Obama administration has averaged 81 major regulations annually over seven years.
-If U.S. regulation were a country, it would be the ninth-largest economy, ranking behind India and ahead of Russia.
-Some 60 federal departments, agencies, and commissions have 3,297 regulations in development at various stages in the pipeline.
-The top five federal rulemaking agencies account for 41 percent of all federal regulations. These are the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, Interior, Health and Human Services, and Transportation.

Presidential executive orders also carry an extraordinary cost.

You can read the entire report here.

China Responds to Trump: Don't Listen to Him, Current Economic Relationship is "Win-Win"

China has recognized Donald Trump as a viable actor on the international playing field.

In an address to the U.S. on Wednesday, China's foreign ministry spokesperson said that Americans should not worry about trade policies and keep an 'objective' view of the relationship between the two countries.

"What needs to be pointed out is that the essence of Sino-U.S. trade and business cooperation is mutually beneficial and win-win, and accords with the interests of both sides," he said.

"We hope people in all fields in the U.S. can rationally and objectively view this relationship."

So do not worry America, Trump is basically dead wrong about anything he says. Our financial relationship with China is A-OK, nothing to see here.  

Hillary Accuses the Press of Going Easy on Trump

In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump a "loose cannon" at least five times. Her rhetoric indicated that she is ready to define Trump as un-presidential months before they meet each in November, as both parties presumed nominees.

"I don't think we can take a risk on a loose cannon like Donald Trump," she said.

After warning voters about Trump, Clinton then aimed her fire at the press, who she says has failed to ask the businessman any tough questions.

Dana Bash pushed back at Clinton's remarks, insisting the former secretary of state is "missing the point." Both Bash and Anderson Cooper, along with several other media figures, she argued, have posed difficult questions to Trump. The problem, Bash insisted, was that Trump does not give straight answers. Or, as Brooke Baldwin put it, he is "gifted" in his responses. 

Meanwhile, sitting in Trump Tower, CNN's Wolf Blitzer spoke with Trump and broke the news to him that John Kasich is suspending his campaign Wednesday night. 

"He's doing the right thing," Trump responded, adding he'd be "interested" in vetting the Ohio governor as his potential running mate.

Trump also said he was surprised Clinton still hadn't silenced her opponent and wrapped up the Democratic primary by now. 

"She can't put it away," he said.

2016 RACE ROUNDUP: And Then There Was Trump

Republicans have their nominee. Soon after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) surprised supporters and suspended his campaign Tuesday night, reports surfaced that John Kasich is doing the same. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders’ Hoosier win put a new wind under his sails and he is insisting he’s not going anywhere.

Republican Primary

Donald Trump: Donald Trump is now being referred to as the “presumptive nominee” for the Republican Party. After the businessman won the Indiana primary, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus tweeted that it’s time to unite behind him and focus on defeating Hillary Clinton. Now that Trump has defeated his Republican opponents, all eyes and ears are on his vice presidential pick. We do know though, that he will go the “political route” when making his choice and that Ben Carson will be an influential factor in the vetting process.

Ted Cruz: Cruz banked a lot on Indiana. Imagine his team’s faces, then, when they saw the results come in Tuesday night. The Texas senator lost to Trump by 16 points in the Hoosier State. Still, he surprised his supporters when he announced his campaign was over. They expected him to fight until the last delegate was distributed. Though Cruz has suspended his campaign, he is not “suspending his fight for liberty.”

John Kasich: Kasich is reportedly dropping out of the race Wednesday night, despite vowing to stay in just hours earlier. Nearly everyone could agree it was time for him to bow out, with this tweet aptly summing up his situation:

On the downside, now we'll never know what kinds of Mexican food Kasich would have chowed down on in California. 

Democratic Primary

Hillary Clinton: Clinton lost another primary contest Tuesday night in Indiana. Exit polls revealed that voters in almost every income group chose Sanders, and she split the women vote 50-50 with the Vermont senator. Meanwhile, only a little over 50 percent of voters said she’s honest. She has no time to look at unflattering exits, however. She’s too busy fundraising off Trump’s candidacy.

Bernie Sanders: Despite his superdelegate deficit, Sanders told CNN after his Indiana win that he will continue his “uphill” battle against the establishment candidate.

Primary Schedule

Saturday, May 7 - Democratic caucus in Guam

Will a Trump Nomination Push Republicans to Confirm Obama's Supreme Court Pick?

Texas Senator Ted Cruz left the presidential race last night and Ohio Governor John Kasich made his exit today, leaving Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee. This pits him against likely Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton in November.

As a result of the current situation, rumblings of how Republicans and conservatives should handle the Supreme Court, specifically the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, are getting louder. Many are suggesting Senate Republicans should take up Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland after all, despite months of declaring the vacancy should be filled by the next president. 

By many accounts Garland is a moderate, not a radical, and with the even greater potential of a Hillary Clinton presidency looming (currently, Trump loses to her across the board by a wide margin) conservatives may not want to hand over an additional Supreme Court pick to Clinton. RedState makes the argument: 

Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee, this is not even a close call. There is absolutely no reason to drag this out any longer. Garland is not a great choice, but he is not a terrible one, either. And more than anything, he is old (for a modern Supreme Court appointment) and will be up for replacement in probably 10 years instead of 20 or 30.

Republicans must know that there is absolutely no chance that we will win the White House in 2016 now. They must also know that we are likely to lose the Senate as well. So the choices, essentially, are to confirm Garland and have another bite at the apple in a decade, or watch as President Clinton nominates someone who is radically more leftist and 10-15 years younger, and we are in no position to stop it.

In fact, if I were the Republicans, my main concern right now would be that Barack Obama would withdraw Garland’s nomination today. The fact that Merrick Garland still exists as an option right now is a gift that should not be squandered.

The calculus has changed – confirm Merrick Garland before it is too late.

Supreme Court nominations are for life, presidencies are temporary.

UPDATE: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still vowing to block Garland, again arguing this isn't about Garland, Party or political ideology, but instead about the American people having a say in future Supreme Court nominations.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is continuing his no-holds-barred blockade of Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, despite the risk that he may get a less palatable choice from presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, a spokesman for McConnell confirmed Wednesday.

A number of Republicans met with Garland and urged the Judiciary Committee to hold hearings before Trump became the presumptive nominee Tuesday. Pressure will surely increase as the race for the White House moves forward. No word yet from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley yet on whether he will stand his ground against hearings and a conformation.

UPDATE II: Conservative groups aren't backing down in their opposition to Garland, either. Judicial Crisis Network is launching a $500,000 ad buy in Colorado, West Virginia, North Dakota, Iowa and New Hampshire.

Top 10 Trump Campaign Moments

1.  America Does't Have Victories Anymore

In the beginning, Donald Trump came out of no where and caught the attention of millions with a bold press conference announcing his candidacy.  He was not afraid to admit truths and blame the true culprits for the woes and mistakes of the last quarter century, the GOP establishment. 

2.  I Like People That Weren't Captured

Trump proved he was not afraid to take on even the most elite Republicans like John McCain.  He made sure that Washington, D.C. heard the people's voice loud and clear and redefined winning.

3.  Denying to Take 'The Pledge'

Denying to take 'the pledge' proved that Trump was not going to play by the GOP's archaic rules and regulations, and the American people knew it.

4.  Low Energy

The equivalent of haymaker from Mike Tyson, Trump put Jeb Bush and the entire Bush family on their backs with one blow and it was only a matter of time before the referee reached the count of ten.

5.  The Rally in Mobile, Alabama

The media said the people were only there to see a 'show' or see a famous person.  They said it was just a small faction of disaffected right wing extremists who did not represent the rest of the country.  This eventually proved to be one of the underlying critical mistakes of the establishment. 

6.  Temporarily Ban Muslims from Entering the United States

Trump told the rest of the world, time to back off! In one small statement, Trump revitalized the blessing it is to be an American citizen.  

7.  Mr. Trump, Are You Batman?

After landing his helicopter in the middle of the Iowa fairgrounds, Trump gave rides to a group of children and showed a more human side, rather than the cut-throat New York deal maker that we had come to know.

8.  The Fall of Jeb!

Enough said.

9. Its Rubio!

Trump built up his opponent Marco Rubio, filling his head with false ambitions that he would be able to overtake the front runner.  And with the flick of his finger, he knocked 'Little Marco' off the map and admonished him from the primary race.  

10.  Florida

The 2016 Republican primary contest was over on the night of March 15.  Trump had closed the door in the south, and would eventually go on to close out everything east of the Mississippi.  

Much like the false promises of the Republican party, Ted Cruz followed the phantom light of hope by winning a few midwestern states which turned out to be a curse rather than a cure.  He turned his back on New York in an attempt to win South Carolina, which he lost, therefore turning his back on  other states in the North.  

In each and every fleeting moment, we were reminded that Donald Trump fights for what he believes in at all costs.  Maybe that is the kind of thinking this country needs.  

Nominee Trump: Now What?


In light of his blowout win over Ted Cruz in Indiana, Donald Trump will be the Republican Party's presidential nominee, barring some unforeseen development or act of God.  Cruz played every card in his deck in a desperate bid to stave off his rival in the Hoosier state, and lost.  Badly.  Out of options, he has exited the race (with John Kasich on his way out, too), clearing the way for Trump to capture the party's crown with little drama in Cleveland.  A few thoughts on these developments, and on what comes next:

(1) Congratulations to the Trump campaign, which has defied all expectations -- including, reportedly, their own. When the celebrity billionaire descended that Trump Tower escalator months ago, he was received by many as an amusing sideshow. A joke. He proceeded to deliver a rambling speech to the assembled reporters and paid actors posing as supporters, during which he was briefly interrupted by walk-off music, when the tech team mistakenly thought he was finished. A speck of spittle formed in the corner of his mouth as he uncorked a grievance-driven stream of consciousness that previewed the broad-strokes messaging that would ultimately blaze his path to the GOP nomination. At the time, I confidently and wrongly predicted on Fox News that there was no chance he'd become the Republican standard-bearer. As Trump rose in the polls and sustained his lead over a span of many summer weeks, I became disabused of that notion. The rest of the Republican field, with the notable exception of Scott Walker, never woke up to this reality until it was too late. Many labored in denial over critical months, attacking each other under the self-serving and woefully mistaken theory that Trump would eventually implode. But when mocking John McCain's POW status, ridiculing a disabled journalist, insulting Carly Fiorina's physical appearance, floating unhinged conspiracy theories after losing Iowa, and loudly siding with Code Pink and MoveOn.org over George W. Bush (among countless daily kerfuffles and insults) all failed to crush his candidacy, it should have been abundantly clear that Trump was well on his way to executing a hostile (if temporary) takeover of the Republican Party. Some of us have resisted that outcome every step of the way. We've failed. A plurality of GOP voters decided that come hell or high water, he should be the guy this year. And now he is.

(2) Trump remains virtually unelectable.  His unfavorable ratings are the highest ever measured for a major party nominee. He is particularly unacceptable to women, young voters and people of color -- who represent a majority of voters, the largest age-based voting demographic, and America's ascendant electorate, respectively.  The controversial mogul has trailed Mrs. Clinton head-to-head in virtually every poll for months on end, often by double digits. Here's a fresh data point out this morning:


This comes on the heels of a Florida poll that gives Clinton a very similar lead -- which, in fairness, may prove to be an outlier. A string of state-level surveys suggest that with Trump as the GOP nominee, Hillary Clinton is well-positioned to make plays for reddish battleground states, as well as some dyed-in-the-wool Republican enclaves. I've argued that Trump vs. Clinton polling is useful at this stage in the race because both candidates have virtually universal name recognition.  Everyone knows who they are, and almost everyone has an opinion about each of them.  Also, head-to-head polling historically begins to become predictive in April.  It's now early May.  Donald Trump is a heavy, heavy general election underdog.

(3) For what it's worth, I predict that in the coming weeks and months, Trump will close the polling gap with Clinton a bit.  Partisan tribalism is a powerful thing, and as more Republican-leaning voters make peace with their unlikely, flawed nominee, they'll rally around the team's flag.  This will especially be true as many of these voters experience routine whiffs of the fetid stench of Hillary Clinton's unaccountable, arrogant, deceitful anti-charisma.  I also predict that a sizable percentage of conservative voters will never reconcile themselves to Trump's candidacy -- due to an insurmountable blend of ideological, character and temperamental objections.  For full disclosure, I place myself in this camp.  We #NeverTrump holdouts will probably prove statistically insignificant, though, at least as compared to the other electorate-driven factors that are likely to doom Trump in November: A yawning gender gap, a massive, Obamaesque mobilization on the center-Left, the flight of independents, and the country's shifting demographics.

(4) In my second bullet point above, I referred to Trump as "virtually" unelectable.  Why not flat-out unelectable?  My hedge arises from a few factors: First, humility.  Having been wrong about Trump initially (despite a serious course correction relatively early on), I'm self-aware enough to recognize that nobody has a special crystal ball; myself least of all.  My general election analysis is driven by solid, consistent data, but it's possible that the data could change.  How? My second hedge: Events.  If Mrs. Clinton is indicted for her outrageous, national security-compromising email scheme, and if there's some sort of major terrorist attack (God forbid) on US soil, things could get awfully unpredictable in a hurry.  The third thing going for Trump is the profound and enduring unpopularity of his opponent.  Yes, he's trailed her on almost every key metric for quite some time, but she is still widely disliked and distrusted.  And she often has terrible political instincts.  As loathsome and amoral as he is, Trump can also be compelling and charming.  She shares the former flaws and lacks the latter qualities. Keep in mind, this is a woman who lost Indiana to a rumpled Socialist who has all but given up on winning the Democratic nomination.

(5) Regardless of one's feelings about Trump -- and I've made mine crystal clear -- his presence in the general election will solidify 2016's historical status as a memorable, wild, and possibly epochal cycle.  The race will be horrifying and depressing at times, but it will be exceedingly entertaining at others.  Engagement and interest will run very high, and very hot.  It will be fascinating to see whether the coming grudge match between two broadly-despised former friends will ultimately drive turnout up or down.  Either way, political scientists, media critics and historians will be writing and talking about this presidential election for generations.  Buckle up.

TedCruz.com Is Now a Pro-Hillary Site

One thing that has made the 2016 presidential election unique is the amount of URL trolling. While Carly Fiorina turned it into an art form, it was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who was the first victim of this decidedly-21st century form of a prank. Cruz had failed to secure the domain "TedCruz.com," as it had previously been purchased by another man named Ted Cruz--one who was not exactly eye-to-eye with the senator on political issues. The page initially displayed a pro-immigration reform message. (Candidate Ted Cruz used tedcruz.org as an official site.)

Now, following last night's suspension of Sen. Cruz's campaign, it appears as though TedCruz.com has been updated:

Rough, but I guess that's one way to cram in one final Cruz joke as the campaign wound down.

As for that other bizarre Ted Cruz meme:

What a world we live in.

Progress? DC Will Have A Gun Range And Store Open Next Year

Washington, D.C. is a forbidden zone for America’s gun owners. While the city has accepted that they must give their residents some form of carry rights, it’s still insanely stringent. It’s a may issue city, which means that carry permits can de denied for arbitrary reasons, and it’s riddled with justifiable need clauses. Yet, for the city’s gun owners, there may be a space where they can exercise their Second Amendment rights next year. A new gun range and store is in the works, according to Stephen Gutowksi of the Washington Free Beacon:

DC Gun Range and DC Guns and Ammo will be located under the same roof at a site on Queens Chapel Road in the city’s northeast quadrant. They will be a short distance from the National Arboretum in a neighborhood that features a number of restaurants and nightclubs.

[…]

Leon Spears, the first and one of the few people certified by the Metro Police Department as a gun carry instructor, is hoping to change that. Spears owns the company developing the range and gun store. Despite hostility to guns from many city officials, Spears said the government has not yet tried to stop his project.

“The government hasn’t really given me any flack,” Spears told the Washington Free Beacon. “It hasn’t been an easy process but it hasn’t been difficult. It’s just tedious.”

The gun range will house 30 shooting lanes, with 24 open to the public on a daily basis and the other six reserved for private instruction. The facility will offer rentals, gun lockers, classrooms for training, a café, an observation area, self-sustaining solar power, private gated parking with special spaces for electric cars, and a lounge area. “It’s going to be more like a club feel,” Spears said. “It’s not going to be … where the average Joe is going to feel uncomfortable, but it’s not going to be a hole in the wall place by any means. I’m just going to try to make DC proud. That’s really the goal.”

Operating a range that’s pleasing to the community is a top priority for Spears. “We’re going to do it up,” he said. “I don’t want people’s expectations to be disappointed. I want people to have pride. This is our range. We don’t have to leave the city anymore.”

Spears said the range will be a one-stop shop for law-abiding gun owners in the District, and will employ as many as 20 people. “We’re going to be a gun store and a range,” Spears said. “There’ll be gun sales, rentals, transfers, and ammo sales. We’re going to be about a 20-employee operation when fully staffed.”

Again, in anti-gun havens, progress will be in baby steps. Carry rights were not honored in D.C., now they are—and a gun range and store seems to be coasting along in its process for the grand opening next year. Regarding shall issue carry laws in the District, that’s the goal. But for now, let’s celebrate the fact that a gun range is projected to open to accommodate the city’s residents who want to exercise their gun rights.

Report: Obama Wants Refugee Screening Time To Be Reduced to Just Three Months

Last year FBI Director James Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson admitted during congressional testimony the United States does not have the ability to properly vet refugees coming into the country from terrorism hot spots like Iraq and Syria. 

Despite this uncomfortable fact, the Obama administration has maintained that the U.S. refugee screening system is extensive, taking two years and a number of background checks with thorough vetting before an individual is granted refugee status or asylum in America. The administration vowed to bring in at least 10,000 new Syrian refugees in 2016. 

"The United States, at the direction of the United States, has played a leading role in addressing the dire humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and North Africa," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced in September. "One thing that the United States can do is to begin to let more Syrian refugees into the United States. This year, this fiscal year that will end this month, the United States is on track to take in about 1500 Syrian refugees. The president has directed his team to scale up that number next year and he's informed his team he would like them to accept, at least make preparations, for 10,000 refugees."

Now, the administration is changing it's position and a report from the Free Beacon's Adam Kredo shows President Obama is pushing for refugee screening time to be reduced to just three months. 

An Obama administration plan to resettle a greater number of foreign refugees in the United States by expediting the screening process is drawing concern from Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are warning that the administration is not capable of properly screening these individuals for ties to terrorism.

The Obama administration has committed to bring at least 10,000 Syrian refugees onto American soil in fiscal year 2016 by accelerating security screening procedures from 18-24 months to around three months, according to sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

Obama administration officials told the Free Beacon that they remain committed to the plan, despite warnings from the FBI and other law enforcement officials who say the federal government is not equipped to properly vet these individuals within that timeframe.

ISIS leaders and propagandists have repeatedly stated the terror organization is exploiting the unorganized, unvetted refugee stream to send fighters into Europe and the United States. They're recruiting people to their cause in European refugee camps. At least one of the Paris attackers posed as a refugee in order to get into France on a fake passport before killing 129 people. 

House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul called on the Obama administration to suspend refugee plans months ago and long before this recent development. 

"Leaders from the FBI, National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have repeatedly indicated to my Committee that we lack the on-the-ground intelligence necessary to thoroughly vet Syrian refugees seeking to resettle here," McCaul wrote in a letter to President Obama in November. "I call on you to temporarily suspend the admission of all additional Syrian refugees into the United States pending a full review of the Syrian refugee resettlement program." 

"Our nation has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees into our country, but in this particular car the high-threat environment demands that we move forward with great caution in order to protect the American people and to prevent terrorists from reaching our shores," McCaul continued. 

The FBI and Homeland Security refugee vetting systems continue to have major gaps.

It Looks As Though John Kasich Suspending His Campaign

UPDATE: Wall Street Journal is also reporting that Kasich is out.


Original Post

Last night, after a crushing defeat in Indiana, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) bowed out of the race and suspended his campaign. Now, it's beginning to look like Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be doing the same.

Kasich has canceled his events today, and is planning on making a statement at 5 p.m. It's expected that this will be the suspension of his campaign for president.

Kasich remained in fourth place in the delegate race as of last night, despite the fact that there were only three candidates remaining in the race. Florida Senator Marco Rubio still had more delegates than Kasich, despite suspending his own campaign over a month ago.

Looking ahead, things weren't too great for Kasich. He was polling extremely poorly in West Virginia.

Kasich's exit means that Donald Trump is now officially the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

This post will be updated when information is available.

Navy Admiral: Russia Should Stop Buzzing Military Ships and Aircraft

For the past two weeks, Russian jets have been buzzing U.S. naval ships and aircraft in the Baltics which has led to escalating tensions and a concerning silence from U.S. officials.

On Monday, Adm. John M. Richardson told reporters at the Pentagon that, "My hope is that we can stop this sort of activity." 

"I don't think the Russians are trying to provoke an incident. I think they're trying to send a signal," he said. "I think it's pretty clear that they are wanting to let us know that they see that we are up there in the Baltic."

Russian SU-27s conducted a barrel rolls on Friday over a U.S. Air Force RC-135 that was flying a reconnaissance mission above the Baltic Sea. In April, two Russian jets flew dangerously close to the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea.

Richardson said the actions increase the chance of a "tactical miscalculation," but the U.S. would tamp down any rise in tensions between the two countries.  "We look for sort of a normalization there," he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week defended the actions of Russian warplanes that buzzed the USS Donald Cook, saying the pilots decided to take a look at the U.S. Navy destroyer "from a safe distance." 

Russian representative said after the destroyer incident that, "This is about attempts to exercise military pressure on Russia.  We will take all necessary measures, precautions, to compensate for these attempts to use military force."

Fired Employee Kills Man at Texas Transportation Center

A disgruntled employee has opened fire and killed a man at a Knight Transportation office in Katy, Texas on Wednesday morning, before killing himself. The Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman told the media they have little else to report.

"Other than he was terminated, we don't know anything about him," Hickman said. "He parked right outside the building and came right in."

The transportation company in west Houston is located near Franz Elementary and Morton Ranch High schools, both of which have been placed on lockdown.

The local news station ABC13 has a SkyEye camera currently circling the school. 

We will provide more information as it becomes available. 

Carter Disagrees With Obama's Assessment, Says ISIS Fight 'Far From Over'

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter apparently does not share President Obama’s promising assessment of the fight against ISIS. The commander-in-chief recently said that our battle against the terror cell was accelerating and that we have made important strides against them. For example, in December, Obama admitted more progress needed to be made, but quickly pointed out that U.S. airstrikes resulted in the terror group losing 40 percent of territory it had claimed in Iraq. In the same speech, he told ISIL leaders that they “cannot hide” and the military was coming for them next, suggesting some kind of end was in sight.

At a ministerial meeting in Stuttgart, Germany on Wednesday, Carter took a much different tone.

"While we have gathered momentum since our ministerial in Brussels, this fight is far from over," Carter said.

Carter’s warning is perhaps most aptly noted by the death of Charles Keating IV, the 31-year-old Navy SEAL who this week became the third U.S. serviceman to die fighting ISIS.

“We are putting people at risk every day,” Carter said, before addressing the White House’s recent announcement to send 250 more troops to Syria. While those troops will primarily be advising local forces on the ground, the defense secretary noted some combat cannot be avoided.

Will the president be as candid as Carter in his next foreign policy address?

Despite Superdelegate Deficit, Sanders Will 'Continue to Fight Uphill'

What more does Bernie Sanders have to do to prove he deserves to stay in the 2016 race? He soundly won Indiana Tuesday night, yet the media continues to call Hillary Clinton the "presumptive nominee" without blinking.

This is because the imbalanced superdelegate totals offer Sanders no path forward. Although Sanders has won several primary contests, Clinton has 520 superdelegates to his meager 39.

Well, emboldened by his Hoosier State win, Sanders told CNN that he is not going anywhere.

"It's an uphill fight for us. But you know what? I started this campaign 60 points behind Secretary Clinton. We've been fighting uphill from day one," the Vermont independent told CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash in an interview after winning Indiana's primary. "We will continue to fight uphill and I think we still have a narrow path toward victory."

Sanders and his supporters have often voiced their disapproval of the Democratic primary process, calling it a “rigged” system that favors the establishment candidate. Party officials, of course, insist they have no idea what he’s talking about.

On Fox News Wednesday morning, Alan Colmes argued that Sanders has made Clinton a better candidate, pushing her to the left on several issues. This kind of pressure, Colmes insisted, will help her reach millennials in the general election – a demographic she has since failed to attract.

First, however, she needs to hold off that pesky and persistent Vermont senator.

It Might Soon Be Legal To Hunt Grizzly Bears

Grizzly bears may no longer be listed as an endangered species, which is opening the door to allowing them to be legally hunted. The number of grizzlies in the wild has increased rapidly since the 1970s, and now scientists are considering changing the animal's status. This, however, is still quite controversial.

Now scientists are at a crossroads: Some biologists say that the grizzlies’ numbers are robust and that it is time to remove the most stringent protections for the bears, “delisting” them under the species act, which among other consequences means they would probably be hunted again for sport. That prospect disturbs even those in favor of lifting the restrictions.

Citing the grizzly’s recovery in the wild country in and around Yellowstone, the Fish and Wildlife Service tried to delist the bear in 2007. Environmentalists sued, and a federal court forced officials to redo an analysis of the future of the whitebark pine tree, whose nuts are an important food for the bears.

It'll be curious to see how this plays out. Stay tuned...

UN Inserts Itself in Flint Water Investigation, Says Racism, Class Discrimination to Blame

The United Nations may weigh in on the investigation of Flint’s contaminated drinking water after human rights experts in Switzerland said racism and class discrimination played major roles in the crisis.

The U.N. human rights office in Geneva called on authorities to draw up a “human rights complaint strategy” to address the crisis, a day ahead of a planned visit by President Obama to the Michigan city to talk with residents and local officials.

Experts in the U.N. office say the human rights complaint could be lodged in order to ensure that other U.S. municipalities don’t make the same mistakes that local, state and federal officials made in handling Flint’s water supply needs, which has left residents dealing with the health impact of lead-contaminated water.

“Decisions would never have been made in the high-handed and cavalier manner that occurred in Flintif the affected population group was well-off or overwhelmingly white,” Philip Alston, the U.N.Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said in a statement Tuesday.

“Elected officials would have been much more careful, there would have been a timely response to complaints rather than summary dismissals of concerns, and official accountability would have been insisted upon much sooner,” he continued.

“The fact that Flint residents have not had regular access to safe drinking water and sanitation since April 2014 is a potential violation of their human rights,” said Leo Heller, the U.N.’s top expert on the right to safe drinking water. “Serious problems reported on water quality, particularly high concentrations of lead, are also concerning human rights issues.”

Gov. Rick Snyder is hoping that President Obama will drink Flint’s water during his visit to prove to residents that it’s safe to drink when filtered.

“We are hopeful the president will drink the water in Flint, to help reinforce Gov. Snyder’s actions and the EPA’s message that filtered Flint water is safe to drink,” Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton told The Huffington Post. 

Unfiltered water is still not safe to drink, however. 

Trump: I'll Probably Go 'Political Route' For My VP Pick

When Sen. Ted Cruz decided to announce Carly Fiorina as his running mate last week, many began wondering who Trump would choose as his. Now, with the Texas senator out of the race and the real estate mogul the presumptive GOP nominee, speculation over his vice presidential pick is mounting.

While Trump still refuses to name names just yet, noting that it’s “too soon,” he did say on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday that he will “probably go the political route.”

“I think a lot of people are talking about certain names, and certainly those are the names we're thinking of, maybe the obvious ones, but I will say I probably will go the political route,” he said. 

Given that he has the business talents, Trump said that picking someone political would help him navigate areas he’s not as well versed in.

His pick, he explained, will be “somebody that can help me with legislation and somebody that can help me get things passed and somebody who’s been friends with senators and congressman so we don’t have to go the executive order route as much as Obama did where he can’t get anything approved.”

Some of the names pundits have put forth as possible vice presidential picks include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Jeff Sessions, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, among others.

Humans of New York Features Megyn Kelly And Her Husband

Blog/art project Humans of New York, which profiles people--both celebrities and average Joes--in or around New York City, published a cute story on Instagram about Megyn Kelly and her husband, Douglas Brunt.

The story, narrated by Brunt, details the couple's first date and first kiss--which were under some pretty unusual circumstances. The picture of the couple was taken at the Met Gala.

A very sweet story. It's nice to see the "human side" of media figures and other celebrities.