George W. Bush Takes Off on 100K Bike Ride With Veterans

Former President George W. Bush kicked off his 6th annual 100 kilometer bike ride with veterans today from his ranch in Crawford, Texas. 

Since leaving the White House, Bush has stayed away from the political media spotlight and has heavily focused on helping veterans reassimilate into society after coming home from war.

Viral Video: Trash Talking Fan Wins Bet, Sinks Putt Seen 'Round the World

Yep, this is my second sports-related post in as many days, but this clip is too fun not to share. Here's some background: The Ryder Cup, a golf tournament in which American and European players compete against each other, is underway in Minnesota -- with national/continental bragging rights on the line. In today's action, English golfer Justin Rose missed a putt, drawing heckles from an American fan, who shouted that he could have made the shot. The European team decided to challenge the man to put his money where he mouth was, wagering $100 that he'd miss it.  The spectator was ushered onto the green, much to the delight and amusement of the crowd. He then lined up his angle, as onlookers grew quiet just before he tapped the ball...and sunk the putt. The crowd went nuts, obviously, and a random red-clad loudmouth won himself a Benjamin. Via international phenom Rory McIlroy, awesome:

An alternate view from the (not so) cheap seats:


Watch Live: Trump Speaks in Bedford, New Hampshire

Clinton Spox: Actually, Clinton Just Hoped TPP Would Be The 'Gold Standard' Or Something

In case you missed it, Hillary Clinton didn’t call the Trans-Pacific Partnership the “gold standard” of trade deals. I mean, she said it, but it was within the context of hoping that it would become that or something, according to the Clinton campaign. The video clip that Wolf Blitzer played for Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon was pretty explicit that "hope" wasn’t an aspect being considered in her 2012 speech about the trade agreement in Australia. Yet, they have to spin something about this, as TPP is deeply unpopular with Democrats and their union supporters. It could be a magnet that Trump can use to siphon off support from disaffected Democrats, especially union members.

While the leadership of our nation’s largest unions might be all in for Clinton, their members are giving Trump a fair hearing—and some feared that defections could occur this November. To mitigate this possibility, Clinton needs to do everything she can to provide a buffer between herself and TPP, though with her dismal trustworthy numbers—it’s dubious to say whether this will work or not. Clinton was hoping TPP would be the “gold standard”…that’s just a lie, folks. Clinton’s shift on trade was accelerated during the 2016 primaries when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) shifted her to the left on this issue. In fact, TPP is just one hurdle for her to overcome. NAFTA is another trade agreement signed under the presidency of Bill Clinton that’s loathed by America’s unions. Trump hammered Clinton heavily over trade, saying she’s been in public life for three decades and didn’t do anything to stop the flow of American jobs leaving the country. Love him or hate him, Trump resonates in the Rust Belt.

CNN’S WOLF BLITZER: “He did bring up the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership, trade deal. Here’s the exchange he had. Listen to this.”

[Video clip]

TRUMP: “You called it the gold standard. You called it the gold standard of trade deals, you said it’s the finest trade deal you’ve ever seen. And then you heard what I said about it, and all of the sudden you were against it.”

CLINTON: “Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality, but that is not the facts.”

BLITZER: “Alright so we did a reality check, and we found this statement she made back in 2012, when she was secretary of state, in Australia, she made this statement.”

[Video clip]

CLINTON: “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.”

BLITZER: “Alright so she’s flipped on that issue right?”

CLINTON CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY BRIAN FALLON: “No, I think what happened, Wolf, was that at the time she made those comments that you just played that deal was still being worked on and she was expressing her hope that the deal would live up to being the gold standard…”

BLIZTER: “You didn’t see ‘hope’ in that statement. She said, ‘this TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open, free, transparent, fair trade.’”

FALLON: “I think what happened was the deal was finalized in the years after she left as secretary of state, and she was pretty clear, even prior to the finalization of that agreement, what her metrics would be for judging it. And then it came out, and the details were scrutinized over, and it came up short on every count that she had listed months in advance, including making sure that we have good paying jobs here in the United States, she just fundamentally thinks it fails that test. Now this was an issue that was heavily litigated in the primary, so I don’t think it’s a surprise at all where she stands on the issue of trade to voters in this general election contest.”

Obama to Kaepernick: Have You Thought About Military Families?

President Obama may be scaling back his initial comments about Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protests. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback continues to kneel during the "Star Spangled Banner" at his NFL games as a means of speaking out against racial injustice. Other football players, as well as athletes from other professional sports, have followed suit.

President Obama weighed in on the controversy at the G20 summit in China earlier this month and offered a measured defense of Kaepernick's right to protest. 

"My understanding at least is that he’s exercising his constitutional right to make a statement," Obama said. "If nothing else what he’s done is he’s generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about."

Yet, at a CNN town hall with America's armed forces on Wednesday night, the president offered a different perspective. He said that Americans should be sympathetic to Kaepernick's message because many families have been affected by police shootings, yet added that our military families have suffered plenty of their own grief.

“Sometimes out of these controversies, we start getting into a conversation, and I want everybody to listen to each other,” Obama said. “So I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat, and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing.”

Obama may have softened his tone a bit considering he was in a room full of service men and women.

For what it's worth, Kaepernick did reportedly at least ask a Green Beret's opinion as to how he could exercise his right to protest the anthem while still showing some amount of respect for America's finest. He concluded taking a knee would be the best option.

Or he could just stand up.

Gavin Newsom Tries to Mansplain Gun Law to Six-Time Olympic Medalist, Fails

Olympic shooter Kim Rhode is a certifiable badass. She's the first Olympian ever to win medals on five continents, and she's the first Summer Olympian to medal in six consecutive Olympic Games.

In addition to her impressive talent at winning Olympic medals, she's also an outspoken supporter of the Second Amendment and has appeared in a series of ads against a proposed initiative in her home state of California that would make it much harder for her to legally practice her sport.

Prop 63 would require background checks and sales records for ammunition purchases, outlaw magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Competitive shooters claim that the initiative would cause "bureaucratic nightmares" for keeping an adequate supply of ammo necessary for practice.

Gov. Newsom attempted to effectively "mansplain" Prop 63 on Twitter to Rhode, and let's just say it didn't go as planned.

To which Rhode had a few issues with:

As of press time, Newsom has not yet responded to Rhode's offer.

This Election Is Apparently Destroying Friendships

Some upsetting news via a new Monmouth University poll released on Wednesday: this election is costing people friendships. Seven percent of the 802 registered voters surveyed admitted that this election season has caused them to end a friendship with someone due to political differences. For the math-averse among us, that's at least 56 people who have decided that voting for someone different is a complete dealbreaker when it comes to friendships.

While an overwhelming 93 percent said this election hasn’t cost them any friendships, 7 percent said it has. Those numbers, however, mirror the results when registered voters were asked whether any friendships have been lost or ended because of a political campaign in past years. Seven percent said yes, while the remaining 93 percent said the opposite.

Another 70 percent of respondents said that this election has brought out the worst in people.

And now, a PSA from your trusty Townhall writer Christine Rousselle:

Friendships are more important than politics, and if you can't salvage an established friendship with someone because they're voting for a different candidate, then you need to take a dose of grow-the-hell-up pills. Political views are a small facet of who a person is as a human. There are so many cooler things to people than who they tic off in the voting booth, and to be so fixated on that small part of a person to the point of severing them from your life is just about the saddest thing I've ever heard.

Watch Live: Clinton in Des Moines, Iowa

Video: 'South Park' Does the Debate

One of the themes of the current season of Comedy Central's South Park -- whose anti-political correctness story arch last year was scathingly hilarious -- is the 2016 presidential election. In the fictionalized version, the final choice for voters boils down to orange-painted populist blowhard Mr. Garrison (and his running mate, er, Caitlyn Jenner) running against Hillary Clinton. Colloquially, the campaign pits candidates known respectively as "Giant Douche" and "Turd Sandwich" against each other. Last night's episode brought viewers the hotly-anticipated Douche/Turd debate, at which an increasingly frantic Garrison (campaign pledge to end illegal immigration and terrorism? "F*** them all to death") begs voters to vote against him. "I had no idea I'd get this far, but the fact of the matter is, I should not be president," he pleads, concluding, "please, if you care at all about the future of this country, vote for her."  The slam on Trump is obvious and amusing, but what made me laugh out loud is Hillary's pre-programmed response, her advisors' panicked reaction, and Garrison's furious incredulousness at how awful she is (content warning):

And here's the post-debate Giant Douche rally, at which a packed house cheers louder and louder as an agitated and horrified Garrison implores them to abandon their support for him. No dice. The worse he gets, the more support he attracts, via MRC (double content warning):

As a bonus, this is South Park's musical number ridiculing "safe spaces" from season 19:

Obama Tells Gold Star Mother: Controversy Over Saying 'Islamic Terror' is Manufactured

During a town hall with CNN Wednesday night, President Obama was asked by Gold Star mother Tina Houchen, whose son was killed in Iraq, why he refuses to use the term "Islamic terrorism."

After thanking her son for his ultimate sacrifice and expressing his condolences for her loss, Obama proceed to lecture her about his refusal to use the term, saying that the issue has been "manufactured." 

"The truth of the matter is that this is an issue that has been sort of manufactured because there is no doubt and I’ve said repeatedly, that where we see terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda or ISIL they have perverted and distorted and tried to claim the mantle of Islam for an excuse, for basically barbarism and death," Obama said. "These are people who kill children, kill Muslims, take sex slaves — there’s no religious rationale that would justify in any way any of the things that they do. But what I have been careful about, when I describe these issues, is to make sure that we do not lump these murderers into the billion Muslims that exist around the world, including in this country."

It should be noted that the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has a Ph. D. in Islamic studies from the University of Baghdad.

Last week White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest referred to the war against ISIS as really "a war of narratives."

Labor Secretary: Scalia's Death Makes it Easier to Unionize

It's been months since the passing of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, but Democrats are still seemingly celebrating his death because it paves the way for their political purposes. At The Atlantic’s Washington Ideas Forum on Thursday, Labor Secretary Tom Perez casually noted that Scalia's death helped pave the way for union membership across the country.

“Well, I think you have all these — there’s an unmitigated assault on labor unions across a number of states and there was a case that went before the Supreme Court recently, and frankly if Justice Scalia had not passed away it would have really made it very difficult for public sector labor unions to organize,” Perez told Rattner.

Unfortunately, Perez's comments are not isolated. In August, Ohio Senate Candidate Ted Strickland actually said “the death of Scalia saved labor” at an AFL-CIO event.

The vacancy on the Supreme Court will be an important consideration for voters this November, but Democratic leaders would be wise to show a little more sensitivity and respect when talking about it.

Washington Mall Shooter, A Non-Citizen, Somehow Managed To Vote In Three Elections

Last week, Arcan Cetin, an immigrant from Turkey, shot and killed five people at a mall in Washington state. Cetin is a green card holder and not a U.S. citizen, and therefore not able to legally vote--but somehow was able to vote in the last three elections, including the presidential primary in May. Washington does not verify citizenship during voter registration.

KING 5, a news station in Washington, reports that federal investigators confirmed that Cetin was indeed a registered voter even though it is not legal for him to do so. They did not reveal which party, if any, he was registered to.

From KING 5 (emphasis added):

Federal sources confirm to KING 5 that Cetin was not a U.S. citizen, meaning legally he cannot vote. However, state records show Cetin registered to vote in 2014 and participated in three election cycles, including the May presidential primary.

Cetin, who immigrated to the United States from Turkey as a child, is considered a permanent resident or green card holder. While a permanent resident can apply for U.S. citizenship after a certain period of time, sources tell KING his status had not changed from green card holder to U.S. citizen.

While voters must attest to citizenship upon registering online or registering to vote at the Department of Licensing Office, Washington state doesn't require proof of citizenship. Therefore elections officials say the state's elections system operates, more or less, under an honor system.


Personally, and this is just me speaking, I'm not exactly comfortable with a state running their elections on the honor system. There's no way that Cetin is the only person in the entire state who is in the voter database despite not being a citizen. It's common sense to verify that someone can actually legally vote before giving them a ballot. This shouldn't be controversial. Plus, out in Colorado there have been multiple instances of dead people voting--another sign that something is terribly wrong with the voting system. These need to be fixed, pronto.

Funding Compromise Reached, Government Shutdown Averted

With only two days before a potential government shutdown, lawmakers in the House and Senate rushed through a compromise bill to keep the federal government funded until the end of the year. The final vote was made in the House chamber Wednesday evening by a vote of 342 to 85. Seventy five Republicans and ten Democrats opposed the resolution.

Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi headed the back-and-forth effort in reaching a final compromise. The issue at hand was funding for Flint, Michigan regarding their lead poising crisis. Democrats wanted aid to Flint included in the bill, but GOP members said the funding was already available.

In the end, Democrats agreed to the measure after Republicans allowed a budget rule to be waived and allow $170 million in aid to Flint via a separate water resources bill.

The funding bill includes $1.1 billion to combat the spread of the Zika virus and aid to flood-stricken areas in Louisiana, West Virginia, and Maryland.

The passage of the funding bill also signals the beginning of a break for Congress. Members will swiftly return to their districts to campaign and will return to Capitol Hill on November 14.

Here We Go: Team Trump Goes After Bill Clinton's Infidelity, Sexual Assault Allegations

During the first presidential debate at Hofstra University Monday, GOP nominee Donald Trump steered clear of mentioning Bill Clinton's numerous affairs and accusations of sexual assault after Hillary Clinton accused him of a series of offensive statements about women. Trump said he held back out of respect for Clinton's daughter Chelsea, who was sitting in the front row. 

But now, the gloves are off and Team Trump isn't holding back. Surrogates are not only going after Bill Clinton, but after Hillary as his enabler. 

While surrogates are going after Bill and HIllary, Juanita Broddrick, who accused Bill Clinton of raping her 30 years ago, is going after Chelsea after she called her father's past predatory behavior a "distraction."

Democrats are once again doing everything possible to coverup or excuse Clinton's behavior and certainly will never admit that Hillary is America's most famous enabler of abusive and powerful men.

Painful: Libertarian Gary Johnson Has Another Aleppo Moment, Struggles To Name A Foreign Leader

It’s been said ad nauseum over the past few months: 2016 could be the year of the third party. You can read about it here, here, here, here, and here. With crooked Hillary Clinton and Deplorable Donald Trump (no, I don’t think he’s deplorable; Hillary does) winning the Democratic and Republican nominations for president respectively, these two candidates’ historically high unfavorables had pundits and pollsters declaring that now could be prime territory for a third party candidate to emerge as the rational choice. Yeah, that lasted all about five seconds. Green Party candidate Jill Stein has a murky history with vaccines and pretty much has no idea what she’s talking about on a whole host of issues. Libertarian Gary Johnson has had trouble with geography and foreign affairs.

Earlier this month, he blanked on Aleppo, the Syrian city that’s at the epicenter of the nation’s brutal civil war, which is becoming a more salient news item due to the consistent bombing by Russian air jets that some say isn’t falling within the realm of anti-terror operations, but instead taking on the face of abject barbarism. It’s a humanitarian crisis. Johnson didn’t know. And he made things worse when he couldn’t name one single foreign leader that he admires during a MSNBC town hall event with Chris Matthews (via Politico):

Pressed by “Hardball” host Chris Matthews to “name one foreign leader that you respect and look up to,” Johnson stumbled.

“I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment in the former president of Mexico,” Johnson said.

“Well which one?” Matthews angrily insisted.

“I’m having a brain freeze,” the Libertarian nominee replied.

“Well, name anybody,” Matthews said, drawing another empty stare from Johnson.

William Weld, the Libertarian vice presidential nominee, then made an attempt to rescue his running mate, listing Fox and other politicians, at which point Johnson properly recalled it.

For any foreign policy guru, this is alarming. For any conservative, it shows once again that it’s a roll of the dice when it comes to libertarians, international affairs, and national security. Some defended Johnson, saying his admission was admirable, and there was a slight spike in searches on Aleppo after his trip up. It still doesn’t mitigate that fact that his candidacy is a joke. At the same time, it's a bit odd that the media went a bit crazy for this gaffe since the Syrian Civil War has not been front and center due to the fact that it’s a rather glaring foreign policy shortfall for the Obama administration.

Still, these are national candidates for president; they should know these things. With this latest flub over naming a single foreign leader, the biggest softball in the history of softballs, Johnson should've easily answered this one.  He failed miserably. If there’s one thing that this cycle has shown, it’s that going third party isn’t a viable alternative for those willing to come out of this election cycle with a clear conscience. We two major party candidates are weak and unpopular. We have third party candidates who are nut bar factor six. In the end, if you want to stop the Democrat, vote Republican and vice-versa. Second, third parties will remain third parties because they pick people who are both un-serious and unable to win the presidency. Trump is un-serious, but he was able to win the primaries by bulldozing 15+ other candidates and he could win this election. If that means that Hillary won’t be president, that’s fine by me—and yes, we’ll be just fine if he wins. The sweet meteor of death won’t be striking earth, though I know some hope for that conclusion this wild election season. Sorry libertarians, but Johnson isn’t doing your brand any favors.

Why Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o Is Pleasantly Surprised a Movie Like ‘Queen of Katwe’ Was Made

“I printed out a copy of the script and in less than 10 minutes I was weeping because I was just so moved that this story was being told,” Nyong’o said about her introduction to "Queen of Katwe." The Oscar-winning actress met with Townhall and a few other outlets in Washington, D.C. earlier this month to chat about the movie, in theaters everywhere this Friday.

Nyong’o aptly described the film as a story about “a young girl from an unlikely place with an unlikely dream.” That young girl is Phiona Mutesi, her unlikely place is Katwe, Uganda, and her unlikely dream is to be one of her country’s best chess players.

Phiona miraculously achieves this goal thanks to a coach who believes in her and helps her hone her talent. She also got a little help from her mom.

Phiona’s mother Harriet, whom Nyong’o plays in the film, is a “layered woman,” the actress explains. Nyong’o contrasted her own childhood with that of Harriet’s. When she was younger, Nyong’o’s parents had her create “dream charts” every year to shoot toward short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. It was “a tapestry to represent the things they wanted to achieve.”

Harriet, however, is “a woman who is suspicious of dreaming.”

Harriet has a right to have doubts. She grew up in a broken home, had no education, lost her first husband to AIDS and lost one of her five children, while also battling bouts of homelessness.

Because her dreams have never been realized, she fears letting Phiona hope for more. Along comes Coach Robert Katende who tries to convince her to let her daughter play chess. His persistence eventually pays off.

Nyong’o asked Harriet why she changed her mind and let Phiona learn chess with Katende. The mother was incredibly honest.

“He could feed her,” she said. “He could give her a cup of porridge every day and I couldn’t.”

“She wasn’t about stagnating her children, she was trying to keep them safe,” Nyong’o explained. “That was her first point of surrender.”

Nyong’o indicated that Phiona has inherited a lot of her mother’s determined character.

“Phiona is an extremely practical person like her mother and she was in school so she did not come to set,” Nyong’o shared. “I love that about Phiona, she is so focused. Here we are, we’re celebrating her past and she has her whole future ahead of her and she is determined to succeed.”

Nyong’o said she could not play the role of Harriet without finding a newfound respect for her parents.

“I did spend a lot of time on the phone with my mom and asking her things like, how did you let me leave the house ever? It’s just unbelievable and I have a deep respect now for parents and I apologize for all the stress I gave her growing up.”

“The Queen of Katwe” is Nyong’o’s third time working with Director Mira Nair, whom the actress says she “trusts deeply.” 

Filming, Nyong'o said, was such a “time of abandon.” She was especially fond of the homecoming scene, when all of Katwe is welcoming Phiona back with a trophy.

“This one day we’re shooting and so celebratory,” she recalled. “As we shoot it, the rest of the inhabitants just come onboard and they join in the festivities. They don’t even fully understand what is happening but there is just so much joy and celebration in the air. There was trumpets and drums and I remembered this is not just us filming a fictional celebration of this Phiona winning a trophy, but it’s us celebrating the very making of this film. I remember feeling that very deeply. It’s quite a feat this has been made.”

She went into more detail.

“What I love about this film is Africans taking care of themselves,” Nyong’o explained. “There’s no white savior that comes in this film. This is about a girl who has a fighting spirit and a mentor who sees that in her and guides her onto a platform where she can realize her best potential. I think that is the message that is more crucial for me. Genius resides in all sorts of places. It takes mentorship, it takes unity to nurture that genius.”

“Where you are born does not necessarily mean that you belong there,” she concluded. “You belong where you believe you belong.”

The game of chess, she said, is a metaphor for life. “It teaches you strategy, it teaches you the value of knowing where you are, where you want to get to and what obstacles might be in your way that you might need to navigate in order to get there. That’s a mentality that unfortunately people in poverty are not often exposed to.”

Phiona’s uplifting, heartwarming story was a joy to tell, Nyong’o said.

“It was something I hadn’t seen come across my desk before.”

Click here for Townhall's review of the film.

Reports: Frustrated Trump Advisers Grumble About Debate 'Disaster,' Campaign Mood 'Dark'

Separate reports, similar message via exasperated campaign aides: Trump blew it under the brightest lights, and set himself up for failure. Before you read on, why would multiple advisers leak such dirty laundry to the likes of the New York Times and NBC News -- outlets that embody what the GOP nominee derides as the 'disgusting' and 'corrupt' media? Perhaps because they know their candidate won't listen to them unless a negative narrative lights a fire under his rear end, which is apparently what happened before his big (and generally successful) August pivot. If his yes-men keep telling him he won -- look at all of these "polls!" -- then there's nothing to worry about it. But if the media, which Trump tracks obsessively, starts talking about how badly he whiffed, he might get angry enough to change. That, I suspect, is why seven different campaign sources whispered these gripes to the Times.  Note the word 'convince' in the first paragraph here:

A delicate approach to the candidate is now in the works. Before his advisers can shape Mr. Trump’s performance for the next debate, on Oct. 9 in St. Louis — which, contrary to speculation, he does plan to attend, a top aide said — they need to convince him that he can do better than he did in the first one and that only a disciplined, strategic attack can damage Mrs. Clinton with voters. Advisers said that Mr. Trump had been prepped to handle Mrs. Clinton’s attacks on Monday but did not effectively execute responses to them...Even as Mr. Trump’s advisers publicly backed him on Tuesday and praised his debate performance, they were privately awash in second-guessing about why he stopped attacking Mrs. Clinton on trade and character issues and instead grew erratic, impatient and subdued as the night went on. In interviews, seven campaign aides and advisers, most of whom sought anonymity to speak candidly, expressed frustration and discouragement over their candidate’s performance Monday night. They blamed his overstuffed schedule, including a last-minute rally in Virginia that was added days before the debate. They blamed the large number of voluble people on his prep team, including two retired military figures with no political background. And they blamed the lack of time spent on preparing a game plan in the first place...

Almost all of his advisers rejected the idea that the debate was a failure for Mr. Trump, noting that he landed some punches and insisting that Mrs. Clinton looked more polished than she was because of her opposition. But all of them described the debate as filled with missed opportunities. And they openly expressed frustration that Mr. Trump seemed unable to stop chasing chum that Mrs. Clinton tossed at him...There were early efforts to run a more standard form of general election debate-prep camp, led by Roger Ailes, the ousted Fox News chief, at Mr. Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, N.J. But Mr. Trump found it hard to focus during those meetings, according to multiple people briefed on the process who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. That left Mr. Ailes, who at the time was deeply distracted by his removal from Fox and the news media reports surrounding it, discussing his own problems as well as recounting political war stories, according to two people present for the sessions...The team had primed Mr. Trump to look for roughly a dozen key phrases and expressions Mrs. Clinton uses when she is uncertain or uncomfortable, but he did not seem to pay attention during the practice sessions, one aide said, and failed to home in on her vulnerabilities during the debate.

In other words, they're not trying to sabotage him; they're begging him to listen to them, delivering their concerns through a conduit that will get his attention. NBC News is hearing similar things:

Will Trump himself wake up to the reality that the general election is meaningfully different than the primary, and that more or less winging it didn't cut it on Monday? The nuggets about Trump losing focus and evincing little interest during debate preparation sessions indicate that the man Republicans have nominated lacked either the focus or the seriousness of purpose to adequately prepare for arguably the single most watched and most important event of his life.  So long as he remains in an "I won!" bubble, he won't adjust his approach for the final two debates.  Then again, his blamestorming about the moderator, his microphone, etc. suggests that he doesn't really believe his adulatory echo chamber's hosannas this time.  Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who has earned her keep as a pollster for decades, can surely sit him down and explain the difference between his beloved internet polls, and these real numbers:

Stripping away the spin and braggadocio, Hillary won on Monday night, and they know it.  How will the campaign respond?  Or are reportedly warring internal factions hampering Team Trump's ability to focus and adapt?  This guy's already on his third campaign manager.  The kids can't seriously believe another change at the top is a wise move, can they?

I'll leave you with two links. First, here is Allahpundit once again marveling that in addition to woefully under-preparing for his monumentally important first debate with Hillary, America's most famous alleged "self-funding" billionaire still hasn't cut an unprecedentedly humongous check to his own campaign. With the stroke of a pen, he could finance an operation that would overwhelm Hillary's ground game and come close to matching her on-air.  He hasn't, but there are reports floating around that he's contemplating doing so. Tick tock, Donald. Second, we told you about Trump's self-destructive decision to raise Hillary's "Miss Piggy/Miss Housekeeping" attack the morning after the debate. Setting Trump's related conduct off to the side, did Team Clinton bother to vet this woman? This is their new poster-woman-slash-surrogate?  This is their new character witness against Donald Trump?  Good Lord:

UPDATE - The campaign denies any internal dissent, though it's also being reported that Trump is angry that anyone is admitting that he didn't win. But...they're also changing their approach for the next debate, Mister Trump's glorious victory, or whatever.  Or they're not.  Pick the report you prefer.

Forbes Editor Reveals How Much Magazine Believes Trump Is Really Worth

Discussing Donald Trump’s wealth on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” editor of Forbes Magazine Randall Lane dismissed rumors that Trump may only be worth $200 million, noting that he is indeed a billionaire. But the $10 billion figure Trump claims he’s worth? Not even close, Lane said.

“He’s worth $3.7 billion based on the findings we’ve been spending most of the last year. We’ve been given an audit. We have 35 years, we’ve been tracking Trump's wealth since the Forbes 400 started. So we have years and years, decades and decades, there’s no assets that are hiding that we don’t know about. We’ve been tracking him since before anybody knew who he was. He’s worth a lot less than he says. He's worth a lot less than last year. He’s down $800 million. But he is a billionaire. He's worth -- again we think 3.7"

Cruz Grills DHS Official Into Admitting Some Refugees Are Allowed Into US Based on Their Testimony Alone

FBI Director James Comey has already acknowledged that the country can’t properly vet all Syrian refugees for ties to terror, but just how lenient the process can actually be may come as a surprise.

Grilling a top DHS official during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz read part of a DHS memorandum, which stated that the “refugee program is particularly vulnerable of fraud due to loose evidentiary requirements where at times the testimony of an applicant alone is sufficient for approval.”

Leon Rodriguez, director of Citizenship and Immigration Services at DHS, pushed back, arguing that the document was written by someone who lacked familiarity with the process.

Cruz then pressed him, asking if it is “true or false that the testimony of the applicant alone can be sufficient for approval?”

“It is considered, it depends on the case,” Rodriguez replied, before going into more detail.

“Mr. Rodriguez,” Cruz interrupted, “It’s a very simple question. … Is it true or false that the testimony of the applicant alone can be sufficient for approval?”

After another exchange, Cruz pressed him again wanting a clear answer. Finally, Rodriguez gave him what he was looking for.

“I am acknowledging that yes, testimony can be the basis for the grant of a refugee but it needs to be tested against other information that we know — about the country conditions, at a minimum.”

The Two Witnesses in the Chelsea NY Bombing Have Flown Back to Egypt

For some unexplained reason, the FBI allowed the two witnesses in the New YorkCity bombing to fly back to Egypt, according to law enforcement officials.

However, though the two men are not currently in custody, the FBI reportedly knows who they are and their whereabouts. Law enforcement officials say they are Egyptian pilots and are presumed to have returned to Egypt. They are still considered witnesses, not suspects.

Authorities on Tuesday released new photos of the men to the public.

"I think they were more interested in the bag, not what they were taking out," said Jim Watters, chief of the New York Police Department's counter-terrorism unit. 

"They're not in any jeopardy of being arrested," Watters said. "We have no reason to believe they're connected."

California Governor Signs Bill Giving Felons Right to Vote

Felons in California will now have the right to vote behind bars thanks to AB 2466, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on Wednesday.

As part of a progressive effort to hasten their transition back into society, thousands of felons in county jail will now be able to take part in California elections.

Under the new law, anyone convicted of a felony, but who is not currently in state or federal prison or on parole, is allowed to vote.

California’s constitution denies the right to vote to anyone in prison or on parole. In 2011, the state’s Realignment Plan shifted many of the state’s corrections program responsibilities to local government. It spurred the transfer of many low-level felony offenders to county-run jails and programs in an effort to reduce overcrowded state and federal prisons and save money.

AB 2466 was borne from a 2014 lawsuit on behalf of those low-level felons who were no longer in state or federal prison. The lawsuit argued the people in county programs shouldn’t be classified the same as other felons, and won.

Upon introducing the bill, Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Brown argued that civic participation would reduce the recidivism rate.

"I wrote AB 2466 because I want to send a message to the nation that California will not stand for discrimination in voting,” she said Wednesday.

Daniel Zingale, senior vice president of The California Endowment, a private health foundation, agreed.

 “California is stronger and healthier when more people participate in the electoral process,” he said, reports the Los Angeles Times. “Mass disenfranchisement for minor offenses is a tragic legacy of the Jim Crow era that disproportionately affects and diminishes the power of communities of color.”

But there’s plenty of disagreement—and not just from Republican lawmakers. The California State Sheriffs’ Assn and the California Police Chiefs Assn. opposed the legislation.

“We believe that there have to be consequences to your action, and the consequences of being a convicted felon are that you can’t vote and you can’t possess firearms,” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Assn., told the LA Times.

The new law could mean as many as 50,000 new voters in California.

Obama Won't Say "Islamic Terrorism" Because He Doesn't Want to Offend Muslim Leaders

Barack Obama continues to refuse to use the words 'Islamic terrorism' because "the way it’s received by our friends and allies around the world... makes them feel as if they’re under attack."

During Wednesday’s Presidential Town Hall on CNN, Obama was asked by Gold Star mother Tina Houchins why he doesn’t use the term “Islamic terrorist,” and he quickly defended the religion and even compared the scenario to Christianity.  

“I don’t want to — if you had a — an organization that was going around killing and blowing people up, and said, we’re on the vanguard of Christianity, well, I’m not going, as a Christian, I’m not going to let them claim my religion and say you’re killing for Christ. I would say that’s ridiculous. That’s not what my religion stands for. Call these folks what they are, which is killers and terrorists,” he said.  

He even declared that the real danger comes from "loose language," particularly from presidential candidates.  

“I think that, I’ll just be honest with you, the danger is where we get loose in this language, particularly when a president — or people aspiring to get — become president get loose with this language," he said.

Obama defends and supports Islamic leaders in the middle east as if they were heroes fighting valiantly to combat terrorism that is rooted throughout the region.  But what really is Saudi Arabia and Egypt doing to fight ISIS?  What is Turkey doing or Pakistan doing for that matter?

The U.S. taxpayers send trillions of dollars to help fund and supply their war effort while they simply waste the resources through government corruption.  The multi-trillion dollar defense industry that has emerged from the conflicts in the middle east may go down as one of the biggest scams of the 21st century.  

Obama's pretense is that if we do not offend Islamic leaders in the middle east, then in return, they will all of the sudden eliminate ISIS and factions like it as an act of kindness to America.  But if sending them trillions of dollars in resources and weaponry did not work, then why will not saying 'Islamic terrorism' work?

Reality check, 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001 were from Saudi Arabia and two were once accused of being Saudi intelligence officers. Saudis do not care what we call ISIS, they care about the bottom line and how much their government can benefit off of the American taxpayers.   They are smart and cunning negotiators who abuse our State Department officials sent to win for the American people, not the other way around.    

Watch Live: Trump Campaigns in Waukesha, Wisconsin

WATCH: Marco Rubio's Moving Tribute to Communist Refugee and MLB Pitcher Killed in Accident

A holdover from yesterday, but still worth watching if you haven't seen it already. For those who aren't not plugged into sports news, Miami Marlins standout pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a tragic boating accident early Sunday morning, along with two friends. He was just 24. His death has devastated his clubhouse, leading to many poignantheartbreaking, and inspirational moments both on and off the field. Florida Senator Marco Rubio -- a native son of Miami -- took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to mourn the loss, paying tribute to a young man who'd already led an extraordinary life before it was suddenly cut short.  Eloquent and moving:

As a young man, Fernandez and his family attempted to defect from Communist Cuba on multiple occasions. At 14, he was jailed after his third escape attempt. He finally completed the treacherous journey, but not before saving his own mother from drowning in choppy seas. Years later, he called becoming a US citizen one of his proudest accomplishments. "I consider myself now to be free," he said. "I thank this amazing country for giving me the opportunity to go to school here and learn the language and pitch in the major leagues. It’s an honor to be a part of this country, and I respect it so much." My friend Mary Katharine Ham wrote about Fernandez on Monday, noting his passion not just for the game, but for the incredible gift of liberty:

Five days before he died, Fernandez posted a black and white photo of his girlfriend on the beach, cradling an obvious baby bump. The caption read, “I’m so glad you came into my life. I’m ready for where this journey is gonna take us together. #familyfirst.”  Fernandez understood, more than most, what it meant to have his whole family here, in one place. One can only imagine the joy he would have taken in growing that family in the country he loved. Before he died, he left his teammates with a thought about freedom, something he often tossed around in the locker room. Usually a sunny jokester, this was more of an admonition than a celebration: “You were born into freedom. You don’t understand freedom, really.”

Descansa en paz.

Polls: Post-Debate Clinton Can't Get Beyond The Margin Of Error

The first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is over. The media says that Clinton won in a landslide. Those outside of the D.C. beltway felt otherwise. They felt Clinton’s scripted and formulaic answers didn’t speak to any of their concerns and they were annoyed that she tries to paint herself as her husband. We all know Hillary isn’t Bill. Democrats think otherwise. So, did she have a surge? Reuters/Ipsos and the Morning Consult noted that Clinton did indeed have a surge…that falls well within the margin of error.

First, let’s look at the Morning Consult poll, which was sponsored by Politico, who released their results this morning. Out of a sample of 1,253 likely voters, they found that moderator Lester Holt was generally fair; they felt Clinton won, and over half watched the whole debate. Yet, despite Clinton winning the debate in this poll, only nine percent said the debate changed their mind—and she only went up three points. Trump led Clinton by one point in their previous poll, both fall within the margin of error.

We have a brand-new post-debate poll that confirms Hillary Clinton got a small bump over Donald Trump from her performance. Clinton is up THREE POINTS among likely voters in the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll of the four-way race for president. Before the debate Trump was up ONE POINT. JUST NINE PERCENT of respondents said the debate changed their mind about who to vote for.

Here are some other key findings of the poll, which was conducted online Monday and Tuesday among 1,253 likely voters with a margin of error of three points.

--LESTER HOLT WAS SEEN AS FAIR. 42% of respondents said Holt was impartial. 27% said he was more favorable to Clinton and 2% said he favored Trump.

--CLINTON WAS THE WINNER. This tracks with practically all other reputable public polling: 49% say Clinton won and 26% say Trump won. 18% of Republicans say Clinton won.

--VOTERS WERE RIVETED. 72% of likely voters watched the debate, and 55% of those viewers watched the whole 95-minute affair. Half of those polled said they would watch the debate again.

In the Reuters poll, Clinton surged six points, but when you add the third party candidates, she only leads by four. Again, well within the margin of error (via The Hill):

Clinton has 44 percent support among likely voters to Trump's 38 percent in the Ipsos/Reuters national tracking poll, which was taken before Monday's first presidential debate.

Clinton's lead shrinks slightly when third-party candidates are included. In that scenario, she has 42 percent to Trump's 38 percent. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson has 7 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein is backed by 2 percent.

The sample size for this poll was 1,041 voters.

So, two polls post-debate show that Clinton (for now) was incapable of gaining any meaningful ground against Trump. I say for now because we need to see what the other polls came out with post-debate. She may have been good. She may have had detailed answers, but two things will continue to hamstring her a) she’s less trusted than Trump; b) she’s not likable; and c) a lot of people have already made up their minds. Still, a nine percent change post-debate from the Consult poll is interesting. If similar figures are found in other polls, we should be able to paint a clearer picture of where these folks are going. Are they heading into the third party camps? Are they heading into the sit this one out bunker? If one thing is clear at this point is that Monday night was neither good nor bad for either camp. Yes, maybe Clinton won Monday by a large margin, but why isn’t she leading by eight or ten points post-debate if it truly was a disastrous performance by Trump? In reality, I think the whole night was a draw, with both candidates getting the upper hand in various parts of the night, with the closing act being a toss up. The second debate is surely to be where things get a bit more interesting, especially if Trump brings up the Clinton Foundation, Benghazi, and the emails again. He has to hammer those points home, especially after blowing a missed opportunity when Clinton rambled about cyber security on Monday.