Back in September of 2013, I wrote that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence might be the Republican dark horse to watch as we head into the 2016 presidential contest. Among his many attributes, I argued, Pence is widely respected by all facets of the conservative movement.
Until now. In recent days, Pence has drawn criticism from conservatives for choosing to embrace ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion. After hearing the Indiana governor speak at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) recently, The Federalist's Ben Domenech penned a sharp rebuke:
Up close, Pence's mannerisms are remarkably similar to a Midwestern George W. Bush, and I feel like his actions here remind me of a key problem with the Bush presidency, which could prove to be troublesome for Pence should he try for the White House in 2016. Pence's attitude was one of relying on past defenses of conservative policy to justify his current stance...
Of course, "I am a conservative, therefore all my policies are conservative" is a dangerous path to go down. It's one that proved problematic for both W. and the conservative movement during his tenure, which went along with No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and a host of other questionable policy steps without breaking with the White House... [The Federalist]
That's not to say Pence's possible presidential bid is over before it has even started. Every single likely GOP presidential candidate has an asterisk such as this against them. But there's another interesting twist here, and that is how conservatives haven't really forgiven Bush for his big government ways — and, in fact, the 2016 field can be viewed through a sort of "fool me once," post-Bush-stress-disorder prism. Matt K. Lewis
Eleven states are represented in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Obama administration, challenging federal guidelines that require schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Wichita Falls, Texas, is in response to a directive released earlier in May by the Obama administration, which critics say oversteps the government's bounds. The lawsuit accused the administration of trying to turn schools and workplaces into "laboratories for a massive social experiment."
On Tuesday, the Justice Department and North Carolina filed competing lawsuits concerning a law in the state that bans transgender people from using bathrooms that don't correspond to the gender identified on their birth certificate. Jeva Lange
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams insisted Wednesday that the city will be ready for whatever the Republican National Convention may bring, be it protesters or riots. "A lot has been said about whether or not Cleveland is prepared for the RNC in about 50 days here. I have to tell you, we are prepared. I can't stress enough that we are prepared for this," he said.
The city attorney, Richard Hovarth, also announced temporary regulations for the area around the convention, including a ban on bringing lumber, fireworks, explosives, drones, ice chests and coolers, or ladders into the vicinity. Guns, noticeably, were not explicitly banned, although Ohio is an open-carry state.
The city has also bid for sets of body armor, conversion vans to transport prisoners, 2,000 sets of riot gear, 10,000 sets of plastic handcuffs, night vision goggles, motorcycles, and a horse trailer.
While violence is no certainty, riotous protests did break out Tuesday in New Mexico at Trump's first campaign rally in two weeks, with people throwing plastic bottles, burning Trump T-shirts, and hurling rocks at the police. Some heading to Cleveland this July have gone so far as to take self-defense classes similar to those given to journalists before they go into war zones. Jeva Lange
Civilians awaiting rescue in Raqqa, the Islamic State's de facto capital, might not actually be that thrilled about their impending liberation. That's because, as CNN reports, given the choice between liberation by the predominantly Kurdish (and U.S.-backed) Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and rule under ISIS, Syrians in Raqqa may actually choose to "throw their lot" behind the terrorist group. As one tweet from the activist group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently put it, the "strategy of taking Raqqa by SDF ... [may] push a lot of people to join ISIS."
While the inhabitants of Raqqa may not quite be enjoying life since ISIS seized the city in 2013, ethnic tensions have Raqqa's Arabs leery of their potential liberators:
Backed by the United States, the Syrian Democratic Forces are a coalition of Kurdish, Assyrian, Christian, Arab tribal and other forces. But they are dominated by the Kurdish YPG, the Popular Defense Units. In other words, it's a Kurdish armed force with a multi-ethnic façade, and the Arabs of Raqqa could well be worried about their intentions in a post-ISIS Syria. [CNN]
The conundrum is one deeply rooted in history. The Kurds have long been suspected of trying to create a separate state from Syria and Iraq, CNN notes, which has Raqqa residents wary; when they see a predominantly Kurdish force coming to clear the countryside north of the city, the question arises of whether they're truly coming to rescue them, or just to take their land. Thus far, the SDF has promised its efforts are not aimed at the city itself.
The Obama family's tenure in the White House isn't quite over, but they're already planning their post-presidential digs. News broke Wednesday that the first family reportedly has plans to lease this 8,200-square-foot pad in the Washington D.C. neighborhood of Kalorama come January:
— Washingtonian (@washingtonian) May 25, 2016
The Obamas announced in March that they would be staying in D.C. after President Obama's second term ends to let their younger daughter, Sasha, finish high school.
The house — which is owned by NFL Executive Vice President of Communications Joe Lockhart and his wife, Giovanna Gray Lockhart, the Washington editor of Glamour — last sold in May 2014 for $5,295,000. It sits on about a quarter-acre of land and has nine bedrooms, eight-and-a-half bathrooms, and a spacious backyard.
The 2020 Republican primary schedule may look quite a bit different from this year's process if party leadership gets its way with rule changes at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer.
Following a chaotic nominating process and looking toward the possibility of the first contested convention in decades, the GOP is beginning to consider a substantial overhaul of the way it picks presidential candidates. In one proposal, Iowa and New Hampshire would retain their early voting status, but each would be paired with a rotating selection of other states from their region — Iowa with Minnesota in 2020, for example, and then with South Dakota in 2024.
Other suggestions are more radical, like abolishing these states' unique position altogether in favor of a fully rotating calendar of primaries which gives voters in all 50 states a chance to be early deciders every few years. One thing seems certain, though: Nevada will likely lose its early position on the primary calendar thanks to alleged "irregularity" and disorder at the state's 2016 caucuses. Bonnie Kristian
Weeks after rumors of his infidelity emerged in wife Beyoncé's new visual album Lemonade, Jay Z is finally putting in his two cents on the matter. The musician debuted his response Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium in the form of a newly released remix of Fat Joe and Remy's "All the Way Up." The song's first verse: "You know you made it when the fact your marriage made it is worth millions/Lemonade is a popular drink and it still is."
Prior to the song's release, Jay Z had stayed mum about his apparent infidelity, despite the onslaught of angry reactions from Beyoncé fans and the ruthless search for the identity of the rapper's mistress, whom Beyoncé refers to as "Becky with the good hair" in her track "Sorry". The couple has been married for eight years and allegedly went through a rough patch in 2014.
An internal State Department audit has found fault in the way Hillary Clinton, her aides, and other former secretaries of state managed their electronic communications while in office, The Associated Press reports. A copy of the report by the agency's inspector general cited "longstanding, systemic weakness" in relation to email and computer information security. Additionally, the secretaries were "slow to recognize and to manage effectively the legal requirements and cybersecurity risks associated with electronic data communications, particularly as those risks pertain to its most senior leadership," the report said.
The internal audit sharply criticized Clinton for failing to request permission to use her personal server, permission that the Office of the Inspector General said "would not" have been approved due to "the security risks in doing so." Clinton's personal server and BlackBerry never proved they could “[meet] minimum information security requirements," the report went on.
The review followed accusations that Clinton had exclusively used her private email account and server while serving as secretary of state. An official publication of the report will be released Thursday.
Update 12:33 p.m.: Clinton's press secretary has responded to the State Department report on her emails. "While political opponents of Hillary Clinton are sure to misrepresent this report for their own partisan purposes, in reality, the Inspector General documents just [show] how consistent her email practices were with those of the other secretaries and senior officials at the State Department who also used personal email," the statement says. Read the full comments here. Jeva Lange