FBI Director Warns About 'Gaps' in Screening of Syrian Refugees

The Obama administration has pledged to take in 85,000 refugees in the next fiscal year, with the number increasing to 100,000 the year after that. While not all of these refugees will be coming from war-torn countries like Syria, many will, and it has Republicans up in arms over the strain on American resources and the security risks it poses.

Speaking on Capitol Hill Thursday, FBI Director James Comey weighed in from a security perspective, lending credence to Republican concerns over proper vetting of refugees.

“My concern there is there are certain gaps ... in the data available to us,” Comey said.

“There is risk associated of bringing anybody in from the outside, but specifically from a conflict zone like that,” he added.

“There is no such thing as a no-risk enterprise and there are deficits that we face.”

In particular, the lack of solid on-the-ground intelligence assets in Syria has clouded the U.S.’s ability to crosscheck the backgrounds of every refugee hoping to come to the U.S., Comey and other national security officials told the Senate panel.

“The intelligence that we have of this particular conflict zone is not as rich as we would like it to be,” said Nicholas Rasmussen, the head of the National Counterterrorism Center. “We’ve got a much more streamlined and effective system to make sure that all of our intelligence holdings are brought to bear as these decisions are made, but you can only review against what you have.”

“We are building that fact into our analysis as well,” he added, “so that we can at least identify what more questions we need to ask.”

Refugees are first recommended by the United Nations, according to the administration, and then screened by multiple U.S. agencies. The White House insists that the vetting process will be thorough.

“We should do the right thing by accepting more, but we should be careful in doing it,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said.

Republicans didn’t seem any more comforted by the administration’s assurances, however.

“I’m very skeptical about what I hear,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said during the hearing.

Thus far, roughly 2,000 Syrian refugees have come to the U.S.

DHS IP Address Edits Wikipedia Pages to Accuse McCarthy of Affair

The Wikipedia pages of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Renee Ellmers were edited to accuse the two of having an affair. The IP address that made the edits were reportedly tied to the Department of Homeland Security. 

The changes were made on Thursday, the same day McCarthy unexpectedly dropped out of the race for Speaker of the House. Both members of Congress have denied the affair, however.

“Ellmers is alleged to have been involved in an extra-marital affair with Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy since 2011,” the edited article read, sourcing the information to a Breitbart article that alleged no such thing, and an article on independent website GotNews.

Earlier this week Rep. Walter Jones wrote a letter urging GOP candidates to withdraw from leadership races if they have any skeletons in the closet.

"With all the voter distrust of Washington felt around the country, I am asking that any candidate for Speaker of the House, majority leader, and majority whip withdraw himself from the leadership election if there are any misdeeds he has committed since joining Congress that will embarrass himself, the Republican Conference and the House of Representatives if they become public," Jones wrote.

DHS told The Daily Caller that the agency has “immediately launched an investigation into this serious matter.”

Sheryl Crow to Perform at CNN's Democrat Primary Debate

CNN is desperate to get viewers for the Democratic primary debate they're hosting next week. They've tried everything: innovative streaming gimmicks, begging Joe Biden to come join (who said thanks but no thanks), and now they're bringing in Sheryl Crow.

On Thursday, CNN announced that the Grammy-award winning singer will be performing the national anthem live on CNN before the debate begins on Tuesday. And, according to the official press release, she could not be more excited.

“I think most people know that I’m a Democrat,” Crow told CNN. “I’m fascinated with the process and I’m going to be excited to actually be there when our candidates debate.” And she isn’t quite ready to make an endorsement yet, adding, “I want to hear what everyone has to say and see where I fall.”

It's kind of amusing, that of all the celebrities who endorsed Barack Obama, CNN landed on Sheryl Crow as their big name to try to woo viewers into watching the debate.

Let's hope this isn't something CNN will look back upon as their Favorite Mistake.

Cruz Cosponsors Bill to Withhold Federal Funds from Sanctuary Cities

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX), along with several other senators, helped introduce the Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act this week as a means to crack down on illegal immigration. 

“In light of the threat criminal aliens pose to the safety and security of our communities, we can no longer allow states and municipalities to take federal taxpayer money while turning a blind eye to the illegal aliens in their midst,” Cruz said in a statement. 

Earlier this year, Cruz introduced Kate’s Law to bring attention to the tragic case of Kate Steinle. Steinle was shot and killed in July by Francisco Sanchez, an illegal immigrant who, despite being a repeat drug offender and deported five times, was somehow freely walking along the same San Francisco pier as her. Kate’s Law places a minimum five-year prison sentence on any illegal immigrant like Sanchez who reenters the country after committing a crime.

“What happened to Kate Steinle is heartbreaking,” Cruz said. “And the heartbreak is even more tragic given the circumstances. Clearly, our laws are not adequately deterring those who have already been deported from illegally reentering the country. I'm proud to join with my colleagues in sending the message that defiance of our nation's laws will no longer be tolerated. Of course, stiff penalties alone will not suffice. Congress must hold this Administration accountable for its failure-if not its outright refusal-to enforce federal immigration laws and ensure the safety and protection of the American people.”

Here are the specific provisions of the Stop Sanctuary Policies Act, provided by Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-TX) office:

· Prohibits sanctuary jurisdictions from receiving federal funds under the Community Development Block Grant Program and the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program.

· Requires transparency to show which local jurisdictions are currently not in compliance with federal immigration law.

· Protects local jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies by preventing them from being sued for obeying the law and complying with federal immigration law enforcement requests.

· Increases criminal penalties for illegal immigrants who have illegally re-entered the United States after deportation and for those who have committed aggravated felonies.

· Endorsed by National Association of Police Organizations, National Sheriffs Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA.

This bill cannot return Kate Steinle to her grieving family, but it can hopefully prevent more unnecessary tragedy in the future.

The full list of the bill’s cosponsors are as follows: Sens. David Vitter (R-La.), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

Chaos: House Republicans in Complete Disarray, No Easy Fix in Sight

UPDATE - News:

- Original Post -

Boehner's out.

McCarthy's out.

Now what? Nobody seems to have the faintest clue. Capitol Hill sources are uniformly astonished and bewildered by the whirlwind of disunity and dysfunction that has pushed Republicans' historically large House majority in to open chaos.  A top leadership aide declined to even speculate on when the hastily-postponed Speaker election might take place.  Of the two remaining candidates for the position, one is an obscure back-bencher with little institutional support; the other is sowing doubts about his own fitness for the job:

It's a common refrain these days, but its undeniable truth bears repeating: Given the unchanged political dynamics within the fractured GOP caucus, who would want this job right now? The next Speaker will inevitably endure harsh criticism a relatively small group of dissatisfied conservatives, who often seem long on complaints but short on workable strategies.  This faction's intransigence has hamstrung party leaders repeatedly over the last five years; they've now collected two prized "establishment" scalps, yet appear to have no viable alternative in mind.  The next Speaker will answer to dozens of moderate-leaning members intent on retaining swing district seats won over back-to-back midterm landslides.  The next Speaker will also contend with an entrenched, very liberal, very disciplined Democratic minority -- on whom he or she may occasionally be forced to rely for votes, thanks to the "hell no" hard-right flank's tactics.  (This phenomenon, incidentally, affords Democrats much more leverage than they'd otherwise have, allowing them to extract policy concessions as a price for their cooperation, making legislation less conservative).  And the next Speaker will have to navigate all of these perilous crosscurrents with a string of unpleasant deadlines looming:

Once again, plausible consensus picks are shrinking from the spotlight. Trey Gowdy wants to continue pressing forward on the Benghazi committee, whose work and reputation was damaged by Kevin McCarthy's foolish recent remarks.  McCarthy conceded today that his major gaffe contributed to his decision to withdraw from the Speaker's race.  Paul Ryan, who is among the best-positioned Republicans to try to pick up the pieces, wants no part of it, preferring to maintain his powerful chairmanship and influence the party's agenda as a wonky ideas leader.  Any chance he might reconsider?  Doesn't look like it:

Katie suggested Cathy McMorris Rodgers, but as a member of the current leadership team, does she have the ability to heal the caucus and shake the dreaded "establishment" label?  Tough task.  And when frustrated conservatives inevitably turn their rhetorical fire against her, does anyone doubt for a nanosecond that Democrats would exploit the fissure as the latest evidence of the Right's mythical "war on women"?  See, they even attack their own women, they'd gleefully point out.  What about an interim Speaker -- someone who's retiring or who pledges to vacate the chair after the 2016 election?  Two big problems.  First:

Not only would a lame duck Speaker be a fundraising catastrophe for the party, the ongoing uncertainty and internecine fighting would hand Democrats a turnkey electoral message in races across the country: "Republicans are manifestly incapable of governing the country.  They can't even govern their own party."  Let's not sugarcoat this: An ideological and tactical crisis has befallen the Republican Party.  The road to reconciliation is unclear at best.  A haze of confusion and resentment has set in.  What comes next is literally anyone's guess.  I'll leave you with one name to keep an eye on, and a telling quote from the ex-next Speaker: 

Is this rock bottom?  Nah, it could conceivably get even worse:

Boehner: Confident We Will Elect a New Speaker Within Weeks

House Speaker John Boehner is confident the House will elect a new Speaker soon after news broke earlier today Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will no longer pursue the position. 

“After Leader McCarthy’s announcement, members of the House Republican Conference will not vote today for a new Speaker. As I have said previously, I will serve as Speaker until the House votes to elect a new Speaker," Boehner said. "We will announce the date for this election at a later date, and I’m confident we will elect a new Speaker in the coming weeks. Our conference will work together to ensure we have the strongest team possible as we continue to focus on the American people’s priorities.” 

Congressmen Paul Ryan and Trey Gowdy have already made clear they will not put their name in the race for Speaker. Jason Chaffetz said today he will stay in the race, but didn't sound confident he is the man for the job. 

Jason Chaffetz "Stunned," Paul Ryan "Disappointed" McCarthy Dropped Out of Speaker's Race

Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who issued a challenge to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy last week for Speaker of the House, has made a statement in response to McCarthy dropping out of the race. 

"I am stunned," Chaffetz said to a gaggle of reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday.

Congressman and Chairman of the House Weighs and Means Committee Paul Ryan, who endorsed McCarthy here at Townhall earlier this week, has also issued a statement. 

“Kevin McCarthy is best person to lead the House, and so I’m disappointed in this decision. Now it is important that we, as a Conference, take time to deliberate and seek new candidates for the speakership. While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate. I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee,” Ryan said.

As of now, there is no immediate successor for the Speakership and it is unclear where Republicans will go from here. Chaffetz will remain in the race, but a vote has been indefinitely postponed. Current House Speaker John Boehner will remain in his position until a new Speaker is elected. 

Bipartisan House Committee Created to Investigate Planned Parenthood

A new House panel has been created with the sole purpose of investigating Planned Parenthood’s misuse of fetal tissue and federal funds. While the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government committees have held hearings on the organization to determine whether it still deserves taxpayer funding, the Center for Medical Progress investigation has demanded a further probe into the organization’s practices.

The House voted 242-184 to form a panel as part of the Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday after Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced the resolution. A bit more information on the makeup and goals of the new panel:

The 14-member panel will be appointed by the speaker of the House and will be made up of eight Republicans and six Democrats. The chairman must be a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which had started a Planned Parenthood investigation that will now be taken over by the select panel.

The panel is charged with investigating and releasing a report that includes: medical procedures and business practices of groups involved in fetal tissue procurement, federal funding and support for abortion providers, and medical procedures for the care of a child born alive during an attempted abortion.

In light of the barbaric footage the CMP has uncovered, our legislators should be keeping a close eye on Planned Parenthood. It has become increasingly clear they broke the law and their tendency to view unwanted pregnancies with dollar signs in their eyes is downright inhumane. Their lack of ethics is screaming for some oversight. A specific committee is a good start.

The House Judiciary Committee’s second hearing on Planned Parenthood's pro-abortion agenda will take place Thursday at 2 p.m. You can watch it live here.

Kevin McCarthy Withdraws from Speaker Race

This post has been updated.

Capitol Hill was shocked Thursday morning with news that the perceived frontrunner for Speaker of the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has withdrawn from the race.

The only possible explanation for his exit is his disastrous comments about the Benghazi select committee. They were so damaging, that the Clinton campaign used the sound bite in a campaign ad and a prominent conservative group announced they were supporting his opponent, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL). The chairman of the Benghazi committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy (S-SC), did his best to defend the work he and his colleagues have done on the bipartisan panel. 

In a press conference Thursday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said McCarthy will be staying on as Majority Leader and his endorsement will be "most important" for the candidates running. John Boehner will remain in his role as Speaker until a replacement is found.

Along with Webster, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is also still in the running to replace Boehner as speaker. Despite multiple calls to run, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said he will not be entering his name.

McCarthy had over 200 votes secured for the Oct. 29 vote, which has now been pushed to a later date. This race is suddenly blown wide open.

McCarthy spoke to the press Thursday afternoon and ensured them that his initial comments about the Benghazi committee were wrong. He said the committee was only created to find answers for the families of our murdered ambassadors and he said he doesn't want to be a "distraction" from the select committee's efforts.

Here is McCarthy's official statement regarding his decision:

A few more reactions from influential members in the House:

Chaffetz, speaking on the hill, was "stunned" by the decision. The GOP has a lot of "internal fractures," he said, and they need to find some unity. 

As for current House Speaker Boehner, he is "confident" his successor will be named soon:

“After Leader McCarthy’s announcement, members of the House Republican Conference will not vote today for a new Speaker. As I have said previously, I will serve as Speaker until the House votes to elect a new Speaker. We will announce the date for this election at a later date, and I’m confident we will elect a new Speaker in the coming weeks. Our conference will work together to ensure we have the strongest team possible as we continue to focus on the American people’s priorities.”

WATCH: Trey Gowdy Defends Benghazi Select Committee

After House Majority Leader and Speaker hopeful Kevin McCarthy tied Hillary Clinton's diving poll numbers directly to the creation of the Benghazi Select Committee last week, Republicans have been in damage control to protect the credibility of the Committee and its work. 

Last night on The Kelly File, Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy defended the Committee and said despite calls for it to be shutdown, the investigation will move forward. Clinton is expected to testify in front of the Committee on October 22. 

"Kevin is wrong and I would ask your viewers and anyone else who's suspicious and those that have been supportive, don't focus on the words that people not on the Committee use, focus on the actions of those of us who have been on the Committee for the last year and a half. Megyn, out of the 54 witnesses interviewed, 41 of them by the way no other Committee interviewed, not a single one of them has been named Clinton. Of the 50,000 documents, new documents that we have accessed, less than 5 percent have anything to do with her and if you look at the public hearings we've had so far, her name has not crossed my lips," Gowdy said. "She was the Secretary of State at all relevant times, we would be crazy not to talk to her."

"She's [Clinton] going to be treated professionally, she's going to be treated fairly," Gowdy continued.

The Chairman also revealed that McCarthy has "profusely apologized" for his remarks. 

"Kevin is a friend, that does not insulate him from being wrong, but he has apologized profusely and I have accepted it," Gowdy said.

Meanwhile Democrats on the Committee, with Ranking Member Elijah Cummings leading the charge, are still calling for the Committee to be disbanded ahead of Clinton's testimony near the end of the month.

Hillary Runs From Trans-Pacific Partnership, Once Called It 'The Gold Standard In Trade Agreements'

Yesterday Hillary Clinton embodied one of the top words being used to describe her on the campaign trail by voters: fake. It isn’t a good situation regarding word association, but her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), despite being for it during her tenure as Secretary of State, only screams political opportunism–and shows that her campaign is wary of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ challenge on her left. To make things more embarrassing, Clinton’s statement on why she opposes the agreement is almost funny, blaming Republican obstruction for weakening U.S. competitiveness, thus creating an environment that isn’t safe for our workers if TPP passes Congress, which is another battle in itself. This comes after she called TPP the “gold standard in trade agreements.”

In fact, let’s go down memory lane to 2012, where then-Secretary Clinton said in South Australia at Techport, that TPP is the exact opposite of what see told us in her recent statement:

Australia is also a growing market for growing exports even as we welcome more trade from you. In fact, our exports to Australia jumped more than 40 percent between 2009 and 2011 raising from under 20 billion to more than 27 billion, and in the first nine months of this year, they're up another 20 percent. President Obama set a goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years, and we've seen extraordinary progress in our relationship with Australia.

So it's fair to say that our economies are entwined, and we need to keep upping our game both bilaterally and with partners across the region through agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. Australia is a critical partner. This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field. And when negotiated, this agreement will cover 40 percent of the world's total trade and build in strong protections for workers and the environment.

That's key, because we know from experience, and of course research proves it, that respecting workers' rights leads to positive long-term economic outcomes, better jobs with higher wages and safer working conditions. And including everybody in that, those who have been previously left out of the formal economy will help build a strong middle class, not only here in Australia or in our country, but across Asia. And that will be good for us.

CNN’s Jake Tapper has a deep list citing the 45 times Clinton said she was for TPP. Yet, as with her decision with the Keystone Pipeline*, Clinton is trying to make sure Sanders’ challenge on her left doesn’t overwhelm her. The self-described democratic socialist has been surging in the polls, has solid favorability numbers, has top-notch fundraising skills, and has Hillary beat in Iowa and New Hampshire by double-digits. All of this while Hillary’s favorability has plummeted; she’s losing in the two key primary contests while pegged as the prohibitive favorite–and she’s lost major support between black and women democratic voters; two groups that she’ll need to beat Sanders after New Hampshire.

Nevertheless, overall, Hillary is still the favorite, but let’s just say the possibility that she could still lose the nomination is closer to entering the realm of possibility, given that the Democratic base wasn’t really enamored with her anyway. Millennial feminists don’t really like her, women are fleeing her because they think she’s lying about the server, New Hampshire voters find her condescending, and now her electability is being questioned since she’s either trailing or running neck-and-neck with the top of the heap in the GOP field.

On the flip side, given what seems to be an endless cycle of bad news for the Clinton campaign, die-hard Clintonites aren’t leaving her, and Democrats still have a favorable view of the former first lady, despite the “meh” attitudes displayed at her events compared to that of Sanders. Still, there could be a case made that Clinton didn’t have to flip-flop on trade, though it was worth taking the risk if it meant possibly losing labor unions:

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, Clinton led Sanders 42 percent to 24 percent among all Democrats. Among self-described liberals, the race was closer, but Clinton still led Sanders by 10 points. In an August WaPo-ABC survey, 80 percent of Democrats had a favorable view of Clinton while 18 percent had an unfavorable one. Among liberals, 66 percent had a favorable view as compared to 33 percent who saw her in an unfavorable light. There's plenty more evidence out there that liberals like -- if not love -- Clinton, and would be fine voting for her.

And yet, Clinton decided to reverse herself on TPP -- no matter what her campaign says, she was a supporter of the deal -- and take the flip-flopper flak rather than risk putting distance between herself and the party base. Worth noting: Vice President Biden, a longtime friend of organized labor, continues to mull a run for the Democratic nomination. So it's possible Clinton was trying to box Biden as well as Sanders out with this decision

Team Clinton needs organized labor’s political infrastructures that will be critical next year. And Clinton had ample warning from these groups on TPP. In an interview with USA Today’s Susan Page, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made it clear that his organization might not endorse anyone for president next year, and that Clinton’s support for the trade deal could be a deal-breaker (via RCP):

RICHARD TRUMKA: I don't know [where Hillary Clinton stands on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement]. She is going to have to answer that. She won't be able to go through a campaign without answering that. And people take it seriously and it will affect whether they vote for her or do not vote for her.

She may not know whether it is a good deal or not, but she'll get a chance to read it, and when she does she will have to declare one way or the other. Support it or she won't support it, she either believes in fast track or she doesn't.

What if Hillary supports the TPP?

TRUMKA: It would be tougher to mobilize working people. It will be tougher to get them excited and working, out there door-knocking and leafleting. And phone banking and all the things that are going to be necessary for her if she is the candidate.

And we would endorse her, this would make it far more difficult.

Well you aren't going to support Republicans?

TRUMKA: Well, there is another alternative as well, we could not endorse for president. That is conceivable. If both candidates weren't interested in raising wages and creating jobs. If neither one had a program that we were convinced they would fight for, not just a poll-tested slogan, but an actual agenda they will fight for.

If we are convinced that neither candidate has that, I think we would spend our money elsewhere. Probably on Senate and Congressional candidates and governors and statehouses where we would have a much greater effect.

As for the Sanders factor, there's a growing number of AFL-CIO members that are getting behind Bernie. Trumka had to remind them of their organization's bylaws over the summer, along with a stern warning not to endorse anyone under the AFL-CIO banner. Still, it's another reason to give the Clinton campaign some pause.  

Sanders from the beginning has been against TPP, saying it’s a “disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of American democracy.”

*Clinton also could be trying to avoid a situation where environmentalists could sink her campaign in a key state, like Florida.

Drip: Unauthorized Subcontractors Stored Hillary Emails on 'The Cloud,' Targeted With Cyber Attacks

Yesterday, we learned that a second IT company -- beyond this infamous case -- had possession of the data on Hillary Clinton's private email server, which violated government rules and compromised  national security. As the new editor-in-chief of Red State,  Leon Wolf, noted, this new development raised serious new issues regarding the security and integrity of her sensitive data. As you read this excerpt, remember that officials have already identified hundreds of classified emails in her archives (she said there were none) -- including messages that she personally sent and received (she said she hadn't done so), as well as work-related emails that she never turned over (she swore she'd surrendered every single one):

The cooperation of a second tech company raises new questions about whether the FBI is now obtaining any of the emails that Clinton says she and her attorneys deemed to be personal and deleted, as Republican critics have demanded to know if any of those emails were really work-related emails that should have been turned over to the State Department along with other federal records. Datto's cooperation also raises more questions about whether anyone at the company, where employees do not have security clearances, had access to classified information that was in Clinton’s server. The source familiar with the investigation said that like all major tech companies on the front lines, Datto has faced cyberattacks, another subject of great interest to the FBI in its probe of Clinton’s server.

Today, another revelation:

A Connecticut company, which backed up Hillary Clinton‘s emails at the request of a Colorado firm, apparently surprised her aides by storing the emails on a “cloud” storage system designed to optimize data recovery. The firm, Datto Inc., said Wednesday that it turned over the contents of its storage to the FBI on Tuesday…There were conflicting accounts as to whether the developments could lead to retrieval of any of Clinton’s more than 31,000 personal emails, which she said she deleted from her private server upon turning over her work-related emails to the State Department, at its request, in December 2014. Congressional Republicans have voiced skepticism as to whether the 30,940 business emails that the Democratic presidential candidate handed over represented all of those related to her position as secretary of state. Clinton has said her lawyers carefully pruned them. The FBI is separately investigating whether Clinton’s arrangement put classified information at risk but has yet to characterize it as a criminal inquiry.

A few points: (1) Republicans can be more than skeptical that all of the deleted and withheld emails were purely personal; they can be confident she's lying because that's already been proven. (2) Of course this email scheme put classified information at risk.  Her server had no encryption whatsoever for several months, and its overall security was much, much weaker than those of government networks that were breached by foreign hackers.  (3) Clinton defenders can parse and nitpick until they're blue in the face.  This is a criminal investigation.  (4) The fact that Mrs. Clinton reportedly had no idea that a second company was involved in this data storage arrangement doesn't matter much. As a public official holding the highest security clearance and trafficking in the most sensitive of state secrets, it was Mrs. Clinton's duty to take every requisite step to guarantee the safekeeping of this material.  The very existence of her unsecure private server, on which she conducted all of her business, represents a reckless disregard for those responsibilities.  Outsourcing the data storage to a second-rate IT firm put this information at even greater risk.  And the involvement of a subcontractor expands the circle of vulnerability.  Among the classified content discovered on the server were top secret emails.  Mrs. Clinton continues to trot out the "they weren't marked classified" excuse, but public officials are required to identify sensitive information when they see it.  The materials in those emails were "born classified," experts explain, rebutting the inaccurate Clinton claim that these emails were only deemed classified retroactively.  Plus, it doesn't take someone as experienced as the former Secretary of State to recognize that messages about North Korean nuclear weapons and the Iranian nuclear negotiations were obviously secret in nature. (5) By the way, we now know that Clinton's right-hand woman at the State Department twice forwarded classified information to...the Clinton Foundation, the other source of major ethics questions that continue to swirl around Hillary Rodham Clinton.  I'll leave you with two video clips; one of journalist Ron Fournier lambasting Clinton for refusing to answer important email scandal questions -- and the second of a supporter introducing Hillary at a rally, announcing that nobody cares about any of this:

Well, many voters care, it would seem.  Also, as Katie mentioned earlier, the Associated Press is reporting that Clinton's campaign "did not answer detailed questions" about possible security breaches, preferring instead to attack Republicans.

French Train Hero Spencer Stone Stabbed

According to CBS News, Airman Spencer Stone, one of the Americans who tackled an armed terrorist on a French train, is in critical condition after being "repeatedly stabbed" on Wednesday night.

This story will be updated as more details emerge.

UPDATE: Per NBC, Stone is in stable, not critical, condition. NBC is also reporting that Stone was stabbed in Sacramento.

UPDATE: The stabbing is not believed to be connected with terrorism, but was "not random." Stone was stabbed outside of a bar.

The Sacramento Bee reports:

One source with knowledge of the investigation said Stone was with two men and three women at Badlands Dance Club at 20th and K streets, then left and walked one block east, where the altercation began and Stone was stabbed. Police do not believe the attack was a hate crime.

Officers initially thought Stone would not survive the stabbing. However, once he arrived at the UC Davis Medical Center staff was able to stem the bleeding and he is expected to survive. Stone’s parents were at the hospital Thursday morning.

Sacramento police did not identify the stabbing victim as Stone, but the Air Force has since confirmed his identity.

The Air Force Times said that Stone had been stabbed in the chest four times. Sacramento police said that Stone was with a group of friends when a “physical altercation” occurred with two assailants, one of whom stabbed Stone.

Detectives are investigating the stabbing and are looking for possible video recordings from area security cameras.

ABC Family: Our Name Is Too 'Wholesome,' Time For a New One

With shows ranging from “The Fosters,” featuring a lesbian couple raising their family, to “Greek,” which is littered with explicit sexual references and acts, party scenes, drunk students, and sometimes harsh language, it’s no wonder that viewers may’ve scratched their heads wondering why such shows were on a network called ABC Family.

Instead of ditching the shows clearly intended for a more mature audience, the network has instead opted to change its name entirely. Beginning in January 2016, Disney-owned ABC Family is turning into Freeform, a name that “reflects our ongoing priority to super-serve Becomers, fans on that epic new adventure of becoming an adult—from first kiss to first kid!” a statement reads.

“For us, this doesn’t feel like a radical departure, this is an evolution,” ABC Family president Tom Ascheim told Entertainment Weekly. “For the last 10-to-12 years, we’ve been targeting young people, Millennials, and then something happened. Millennials started getting older. The oldest ones are nearly 40. So do we follow Millennials or stay with the ‘life stage’ that got us here?”

The name was chosen after being tested in a focus group this past year. ABC Family, it turned out, conjured up attributes like “family-friendly” and “wholesome” among non-viewers, Ascheim discovered through market research.

“There was a huge perception gap between the people who know us well and the people who don’t know us at all,” Ascheim told TV Insider. “That largely comes from our label, the name. That bit of data is the thing that finally convinced us that it was time, after a lot of thinking and pondering, to get this done.”

Conservative Group That Helped Oust Boehner Endorses McCarthy Rival

In a blow to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the House Freedom Caucus is endorsing one of his rivals for speaker of the House – and he’s a long shot. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), a member of the caucus, told the Daily Signal why 80 percent of the conservative group is backing Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) during Thursday’s secret ballot:

“I think this reflects the fact that guys and gals are most interested in process reform, regular order and rules changes,” Mulvaney said of Webster’s getting the nod. “Daniel’s track record of [supporting] open process and regular order is a real attraction to us right now.”

The House Freedom Caucus is a group of conservatives with some serious sway; they were largely responsible for booting Boehner from office. McCarthy has reason to be concerned, therefore, after making the unfortunate link between the Benghazi Select Committee and Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers. McCarthy has since tried to walk back his comments, but could not stop Clinton’s team from using the sound bite in a new campaign ad suggesting Republicans’ Benghazi probe was purely political.

Conservatives have every right to sour on him.

Yet, it seems McCarthy will have a chance to undo the damage he’s done and prove his conservative credentials to his colleagues. The caucus said they could still change their minds come Oct. 29, when the full House votes to elect the next speaker.

Confirmed: China, South Korea and Germany Tried to Hack Clinton's Private Email Server

We've heard for months now from technology security experts about the strong likelihood the private server used by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to conduct official government business and to host classified information was hacked by foreign governments. Now we have confirmation hack attacks did in fact occur. From CBS News

Hillary Rodham Clinton's private email server, which stored some 55,000 pages of emails from her time as secretary of state, was the subject of attempted cyberattacks originating in China, South Korea and Germany after she left office in early 2013, according to a congressional document obtained by The Associated Press.

While the attempts were apparently blocked by a "threat monitoring" product that Clinton's employees connected to her network in October 2013, there was a period of more than three months from June to October 2013 when that protection had not been installed, according to a letter from Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. That means her server was possibly vulnerable to cyberattacks during that time.

Not surprisingly, Team Clinton is responding to hacking revelations with accusations of partisanship and is trying to discredit Republican Senators questioning the security vulnerability of Clinton's private server.

A spokesman for the Clinton campaign did not answer detailed questions from The Associated Press about the cyber intrusions. Instead, spokesman Brian Fallon attacked Johnson by linking him to the House Benghazi committee inquiry, which the campaign dismissed in a recent media ad as politically motivated.

"Ron Johnson is ripping a page from the House Benghazi Committee's playbook and mounting his own, taxpayer-funded sham of an investigation with the sole purpose of attacking Hillary Clinton politically," campaign spokesman Fallon said by email. "The Justice Department is already conducting a review concerning the security of her server equipment, and Ron Johnson has no business interfering with it for his own partisan ends."

At this point, 400 pieces of documentation found on Clinton's private server have been deemed classified. In addition, at least four documents found on her server are classified as top secret. Keep in mind Clinton deleted at least 55,000 emails she deemed "personal" before her departure from the State Department. 

Yesterday, the FBI reportedly seized four additional computers from the State Department as their criminal investigation of Clinton's private email server use continues. Further, new information shows Clinton may have instructed subordinates to start deleting information two years ago as investigations about her email practices were ramping up and as FOIA requests for her emails started to roll in. 

Clinton is scheduled to testify October 22 on Capitol Hill.

Ivy League Professor on Ben Carson: "If Only There Was a Coon of the Year Award"

Tenured University of Pennsylvania Religious Studies Professor Anthea Butler, who has a history of making derogatory and racially fueled comments, is now under fire for suggesting Dr. Ben Carson deserves a "coon of the year award" for his support of flying the Confederate Flag on private property. She made the suggestion on Twitter last week. Campus Reform has the details: 

“If only there was a ‘coon of the year’ award…” Professor Butler tweeted in response to another tweet linking to a Sports Illustrated article in which Carson was quoted defended the right of NASCAR fans to fly Confederate flags during races.

“Swastikas are a symbol of hate for some people too … and yet they still exist in our museums and places like that,” Carson observed during the event in North Carolina with NASCAR legend Richard Petty. “If it’s a majority of people in that area who want it to fly, I certainly wouldn't take it down,” he added, noting that NASCAR races are held on private property.

The word “coon” is an offensive term to slander Africans, deriving from the Portuguese word “barracoos,” which is a hut-like dwelling used to store slaves during auctions, according to Online Etymology.

In effect, then, Butler’s tweet insinuated that Carson is a metaphorical slave who belongs in a wooden shed.

Yesterday, Juan Williams took issue with Butler's comments during The Five

In the past, Butler (again, a religious studies professor) has referred to God as a "white racist" who "stalks young black men with guns."

As of now, the University has no plans to reprimand Butler for her comments. You can bet if Butler was a white woman, she would have been fired immediately.

Coast Guard Suspending Search for El Faro Survivors; Full List of Crew Released

The Coast Guard is suspending their search for any survivors of the El Faro incident at sunset tonight. El Faro sank during Hurricane Joaquin with 33 souls aboard. All are presumed lost.

Maine Maritime Academy, the alma mater of four members of the crew (including one who had just graduated this past May), released a touching statement on its Facebook page memorializing the crew and reassuring the student body that while the jobs they are training for are dangerous, they will prevail through this tragedy together as a community.

Dear MMA Community, We have been anxiously waiting to hear more about the crew of the El Faro, and unfortunately, we...

Posted by Maine Maritime Academy on Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Unspeakably tragic. Please keep the loved ones of the crew in your prayers.

Poll: 18-20-Year-Olds Aren’t As Liberal As Older Millennials

A Harvard Institute of Politics poll found something a bit interesting regarding Millennial voting patterns; younger ones aren’t as liberal. In fact, there’s less than a ten-point gap between those who identify as a Democrat or Republicans in the 18-20-year-old bracket. For older Millennials, aged 25-29, the split is starker, with them breaking for Democrats over Republicans 50/27.

Asma Khalid of NPR wrote that the younger millennials who aren’t as left leaning grew up in a different time, post-9/11 and in the midst of a major recession. Yet, once Millennials get a job and start making between $40k-60k a year support for income redistribution, and other liberal policies related to fiscal policy, drops precipitously.

Then again, Millennials are known for having political views that make no sense. Case in point, they generally support a large government, but when it comes to social security, they support–by a wide margin–the creation of private accounts. They also do not support affirmative action policies, labeling them “unfair.” They support universal health care, but don’t like Obamacare.

Let’s end this on a positive note. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the majority of the 18-20-year-old vote. Fifty-seven percent of 18-year-olds, 59 percent of 19-year-olds, and 54 percent of 20-year-olds all cast their votes for Romney. As Jon Sides, Associate Professor of Political Science at George Washington University, noted, this means Democrats could potentially have a young people problem of their own in future elections.

Senate Approves Defense Bill That Would Prohibit Gitmo Prisoner Transfers, Obama Veto Looms

In a vote of 70-27, the Senate has approved the National Defense Authorization Act, a $612 billion defense spending bill. 

The National Defense Authorization Act would allow the Pentagon to use some $90 billion meant for war spending to avoid automatic budget cuts to military and domestic programs due to take effect when current funding runs out in December.

Twenty Democrats sided with Republicans and voted in favor of the bill. In particular, the bill would prevent the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the United States. The president reportedly wants to close the prison by the time he leaves the White House.

Republicans warn that rejecting this defense bill would be unwise, especially in light of recent national security concerns:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said an Obama veto of the defense bill would be “shameful.”

“If the president vetoes the NDAA, at this time of mounting global threats, he will be prioritizing politics and process over the security of our nation and the well-being of our armed forces.”

Obama is, however, fully expected to veto the bill.

House Democrats Try Again To Dissolve Select Committee On Benghazi

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) tried to propose an amendment to the Rules Committee last night that would dissolve the House Select Committee on Benghazi. She serves as the ranking member on that committee. Republicans blocked it. Today, she’s putting forward a privileged resolution to get rid of the committee that Democrats accuse of being a political stunt aimed at influencing the 2016 presidential election (via NBC News/Luke Russert):

The resolution reads in part

Whereas a widely-quoted statement made on September 29th, 2015 by Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Leader of the House of Representatives, has called into question the integrity of the proceedings of the Select Committee and the House of Representatives as a whole;

Whereas this statement by Representative McCarthy demonstrates that the Select Committee established by Republican leaders in the House of Representatives was created to influence public opinion of a presidential candidate;

The resolution is a procedural tactic that will force House Republicans to take a public vote on the floor to keep the Benghazi Committee operational.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the presumptive successor to outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), has plunged this investigation into crisis mode after he commented that the committee’s existence–and its investigation–is hurting Hillary’s poll numbers. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who is running against McCarthy, called the remarks “absolutely terrible.” The chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), said that people should look at the work the committee has done. It’s not focused on Hillary; it’s focused on finding out what really happened in Libya on September 11, 2012. Gowdy, who is friends with McCarthy, acknowledged that he has apologized for the remarks repeatedly, but that doesn’t undo the damage that’s been done.

He said, "How many times can somebody apologize? Yes, he’s apologized as many times as a human can apologize. It doesn’t change it. It doesn’t fix it. The only thing you can say is, instead of listening to someone else’s words, why don’t you look at our actions?”

It seems as if McCarthy has given Democrats a huge gift; forcing votes that undermine the committee’s credibility and undercutting his legitimacy as our next speaker.

Updates to follow

Hillary Land Reportedly Struggling To Find Meaning On Campaign Trail

Hillary land is saddled with a problem: finding meaning to her 2016 presidential run. Why is she running? What does she stand for? That seems to be a question that’s taking up some serious sticky note space. While the former first lady seems to be taking a firm stand on pushing for new gun control laws, even going as far as using executive action on background checks, this is an expected move. Her party is notoriously trying to curb Second Amendment rights and uses mass shootings as fertile ground to launch a nuclear strike against the prevailing social attitudes we have on gun politics.

Yet, that’s not the issue here. It’s finding meaning in Hillary land, which has been saddled with nothing but bad news throughout the summer. Her email fiasco isn’t going away, and her poll numbers have sunk to the point where her electability is now in question. The prohibitive frontrunner is described as a “liar," "dishonest," "untrustworthy," and a "fake” concerning word association with voters. Not the best to work with, but that doesn’t mean her team isn’t trying or has given up (via the Hill):

“The wall of stickies makes me nervous, because she should be for one vision for America and then maybe she achieves that vision with a bunch of policies,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. “I’m probably for most of the things on the stickies, but voters will have a tough time digesting a campaign with about a hundred policies.”

David Axelrod, one of the masterminds of President Obama’s 2008 victory, has persistently warned that Clinton needs to provide a clear rationale for why she’s seeking the White House.

“ ‘Hillary: Live with it’ is no rallying cry!” Axelrod tweeted last month while bemoaning that the Clinton camp was running a “grinding, tactical race.”

Last December, Axelrod had warned that Clinton needed to show she was “running for a purpose and not just for a promotion.” He has also said, “You have to stand for something, you have to fight for something, and people need to know what that is.”

While Clinton loyalists might complain that Axelrod’s frequent barbs reflect the bad blood generated during the 2008 race, others in the Democratic Party share his concerns.

“Nothing about the campaign reads as fresh and new, but rather as cautious, risk-averse and private,” one Democratic strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said of the Clinton campaign.

Independent observers, too, suggest that the former secretary of State has been slow to offer a summation of her reasons for seeking the presidency, beyond personal ambition.

Doug Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College at the City University of New York, said Clinton could end up getting into a tangle similar to the one that famously ensnared Edward Kennedy. Asked in a 1980 TV interview, “Why do you want to be president?” Kennedy gave a vague, meandering answer that was perceived as sapping his momentum.

That latter point seems to be occurring here, with Hillary’s poll numbers in key swing states continue to sag, coupled with a dive in her favorability ratings. As Guy wrote today, she’s continuing to lose to various candidates in the GOP field in Iowa and New Hampshire. In Iowa, she’s lost a third of her support since June, and Sen. Bernie Sanders has a 22-point lead over Clinton in New Hampshire. Over at Hot Air, Ed wondered if Team Clinton was giving up on the Granite State. As of now, it looks as if the prohibitive Democratic nominee for 2016 can’t compete there. To make matters worse, Hillary has lost a huge chunk of Democratic women (with leaners) since July. To pour more salt in the wound, Clinton has seen a 31-point drop in support among African-Americans, according to a USA Today poll.

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver noted that Sanders could win New Hampshire and Iowa, but lose everything else given how the primary electorates shift after two states with a predominantly white voter base cast their ballots; Sanders’ core group of support is white progressives. When we get to other contests, the electorate becomes more diverse, which would increase the chances that Hillary would get things going again–and eventually clinch the nomination. Winning over, or at least being competitive with, nonwhite Democrats, moderates, and southerners is essential for Bernie to remain competitive after New Hampshire. Most nonwhite Democrats barely know who he is, but the dip in black support for Clinton and women should have that campaign somewhat nervous, given then that this is all compounded by the fact that Sanders had a pretty solid fundraising quarter. He almost raised as much cash as Clinton.

The inevitable nominee is losing the first two major primary contests, while bleeding key voters and is raising only slightly more cash than her closest opponent; this isn’t exactly the recipe for a good news cycle. Oh, and one of the reasons why women are fleeing Clinton: they think she’s lying about her private email system. If Hillary needs to find a reason to give voters why she should be our next president, the time is now. At the same time, I hope she remain lost, as everyone seems to think she is with this aspect of her campaign. 

Obama Apologizes for 'Mistaken' Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital

At a White House press conference Wednesday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest informed the media that President Obama called the Doctors Without Border international president, Joanne Liu, to apologize for the U.S. military's mistaken airstrike on a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan that killed 22 innocent people. He made another telephone call to extend his condolences to Afghan president Ashraf Ghani. 

"When the United States makes a mistake, we own up to it, we apologize where appropriate, and we are honest about what transpired," Earnest said. He described the call as a "heartfelt apology."

His phone call is unlikely to comfort the aid group, however, who is insisting they had no prior warning about an incoming attack. Liu said it violated the terms of the Geneva conventions and has demanded a non-prosecutorial inquiry by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission.

“This was not just an attack on our hospital – it was an attack on the Geneva conventions. This cannot be tolerated,” said Liu.

General John Campbell, a top U.S. military commander, addressed the tragedy at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, lamenting that the medical facility was "mistakenly struck."

Earnest said an investigation is taking place so the Defense Department can prevent such tragic mistakes in the future.

Obama Throwing Temper Tantrum Over GITMO Funding

When President Obama ran for office the first time in 2008, he made the political promise to close down Guantanamo Bay Prison. Once he entered the Oval Office, that promise became difficult to keep as Americans overwhelmingly rejected bringing Islamic terrorists to their neighborhoods in the United States. As a result Obama has found other ways to empty out the prison, including his decision to swap five Taliban commanders for traitor and deserter Bowe Berghdahl. 

Now, Obama is using the bipartisan defense budget to throw a temper tantrum about GITMO funding and is threatening a veto unless funding for the prison is pulled. From AP

The Senate moved forward Tuesday on a sweeping, $612 billion defense policy bill despite a presidential veto threat stemming from larger budget disputes that have hamstrung Washington.
The vote was 73-26, 13 votes more than necessary to break any filibuster. The Senate is expected to pass the measure Wednesday and send it to President Barack Obama.
The defense policy bill is one of the few bipartisan measures in Congress that has readily become law for more than a half-century, but Obama’s veto threat jeopardizes the legislation.

Further, the White House is claiming the veto threat is also a result of Congress refusing to increase funding for domestic law enforcement agencies, but according to the Washington Post, the funding Obama is demanding isn't for important things like fighting ISIS. More details on that

Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest indicated Obama plans to be stubborn on the issue and that the veto threat stands. 

“The current version that was passed through the House of Representatives is something that the president would veto principally because of this — of the irresponsible way that it funds our national defense priorities, but also because of the efforts to prevent the closure [of] the prison at Guantánamo Bay,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday. “So our position on this hasn’t changed. We continue to feel strongly about it.”

Divider-in-Chief indeed. 

Carson Reveals the Stabbing Incident That Changed His Life Forever in New CBC Author Interview

Podcast Author Interview with Dr. Ben Carson! Dr. Carson reveals the stabbing incident that changed his life forever, and how he became a devout Christian at the age of 14!

In an exclusive CBC podcast author interview, we sat down with Dr. Ben Carson – the famed author, neurosurgeon, and leading 2016 Republican presidential candidate. He discusses his new book, A More Perfect Union: What We The People Can Do To Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties, his faith,and the incident that changed his life forever.

Dr. Carson openly discusses his anger issues as a teenager that led him to almost stab a fellow schoolmate at the age of 14. Learn how divine providence saved both their lives by listening to our podcast interview with Dr. Ben Carson. Start at Min 7:20 in the video to hear the story.

It should be noted that Dr. Carson had written about this incident in his autobiography, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson

- See more at: http://www.conservativebookclub.com/13829/author-interviews/how-ben-carson-became-a-christian-author-interview-ben-carson#sthash.DoMLYmjq.dpuf