Analysis: Folksy, Impeached President Endorses Scandal-Plagued, Disliked Wife

PHILADELPHIA - It was fine.

The DNC's Tuesday agenda featured exactly one major primetime headliner: Former President Bill Clinton, who set out to build an emotionally-rooted case on behalf of his wife, whom their party had nominated for the presidency hours earlier. In 2012, I remember sitting in the arena rafters in Charlotte, watching with helpless frustration and dismay as our 42nd president articulated the most compelling (if fact-challenged) argument for Barack Obama's re-election that I'd seen to date. He was masterful, weaving a plausible-sounding story in which Republicans were ridiculed as howling partisans, blinded by resentful and unrealistic expectations of his tale's heroic protagonist. He went full policy wonk at times, somehow pulling it off. He made people believe that Obama and company were the adults trying to fix awful inherited problems, while the GOP shrieked in nihilistic protest. I recall the sinking, intuitive feeling that the race -- which was absolutely losable for Obama at that point -- had shifted with one speech.  I awarded him a B+ in my postgame analysis, which was wishful thinking. The thrust of Clinton's argument went largely unrefuted for weeks, with the glorious and fleeting exception of that first presidential debate in Denver. Bill Clinton really did help Obama win. Period. And Romney knew it, as evidenced by this memorable one-liner from his pre-election Alfred E. Smith dinner comedy routine. The best jokes have at least a kernel of truth to them:

"Campaigns can be grueling, exhausting. President Obama and I are each very lucky to have one person who is always in our corner, someone who we can lean on, and someone who is a comforting presence, without whom we wouldn't be able to go another day. I have my beautiful wife, Ann; he has Bill Clinton."

Tonight, Bill Clinton strode into the spotlight once again, this time to work his magic on behalf of his wife.  He did well, I think, but didn't alter the trajectory of the race.  That's not to say that Hillary won't get a boost out of Philadelphia; she very probably will, as Trump did after Cleveland.  But that was not a lightning strike address.  It wasn't even the best speech of the first half of the convention.  Still, it was pretty clear what he was trying to do.  Before the big address, Megyn Kelly asked me if I thought Bill would seek to rescue Hillary's drowning honesty numbers, which are deservedly and truly awful.  My reply:

He didn't really even try. Instead, he set to work chipping away at her personal favorability gap, which is also a serious problem:

Clinton painted a portrait of a technocratic workhorse (committees! task forces!) who genuinely cares about people, and has channeled those sentiments into a lifetime of tireless public service. That was the whole point of his at times meandering reminiscences about their early life together.  And putting a human face on a woman seen by many as power-hungry and calculating is precisely why he devoted quite a lot of time to describing Hillary as a mother.  (I don't think talking about Hillary's water breaking was simply tossed in casually).  Along the same lines, Chelsea will undoubtedly lay the "grandma" color on thick on Thursday night.  The former president traced his timeline up into the present day -- skipping certain unhelpful bits, like the year 1998 -- and adorning Hillary's tenure at the State Department with the most impressive-sounding "achievement" language he could summon. His only partisan shots were a brief jab about mocking the disabled, and the suggestion that everything at the RNC last week was "made up."  In fairness, he is something of an expert on the subject of making things up.  He didn't need to go uber-partisan, as he did four years ago, because his objectives were different this time. Bill Clinton can read a poll as well as anyone else; he knows that most people already dislike Donald Trump. This was about boosting Hillary's very slight and narrowing favorability advantage, not trying to drive Trump's stratospheric unfavorability numbers any higher. His wife, he said, is serious and committed. The real deal. Believe him, he's witnessed it for decades firsthand.

Was the speech welcomed rapturously in the hall? Yes. They love him here. Did it play well on television? I bet it did. It helped her. Was it a game-changing performance that's likely to permanently alter people's perceptions of Hillary Clinton? I doubt it. She is still the same flawed, unlikable, dishonest, ethically-unfit candidate she was this morning. And if rumors and vows are to be believed, more embarrassments and ethical imbroglios may lie ahead for her.  Bill Clinton hasn't lost his touch as a marvelous political communicator, but there's only so much he could work with here.  His effort was admirable and solid nonetheless. But I suspect it didn't deliver the memorable political juice that his 2012 outing did.

Onward, to day three.

At DNC, Bill Clinton Talks About How He "Met a Girl"

Speaking from the Democrat Convention in Philadelphia, former President Bill Clinton did his best to humanize his wife and Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton during a primetime address Tuesday night. 

Awkwardly, Clinton started his remarks by talking about how he "met a girl" back in 1971.

"In the spring of 1971, I met a girl. The first time I saw her we were appropriately enough in a class on political and civil rights. She had big blonde hair, big glasses," Clinton said. "She exuded this sense of strength and self possession that I found magnetic. After the class, I followed her out intending to introduce myself. I got close enough to touch her back but I couldn't do it. Somehow I knew this would not be just another tap on the shoulder, that I might be starting something I couldn't stop." 

Everyone was relieved when Bill finally revealed he was talking about Hillary. 

In another uncomfortable and highly transparent moment, Bill framed his relationship with Hillary as a longtime love story with a "lifetime of memories."

I'll leave you with this: 

Trump: "Bernie's Exhausted, He Wants to Go Home and Go to Bed"

Bernie Sanders certainly has been through the ringer in the last few months.  And recently, he was caught up in another Democratic Party e-mail scandal that put him in the headlines and in a tough position of defending an obviously rigged system.

Donald Trump shared his feelings for Bernie Tuesday night on the "O'Reilly Factor" by saying that the Vermont senator looked exhausted and tired.  

"He's a tired man, he's exhausted," Trump said.  "He wants to go home and he wants to go to bed."

As The Democratic Convention Nominates Clinton, Sanders Supporters Chant "Bernie Or Jail" In The Hallways

The Democratic Convention has tallied the votes—and Hillary Clinton is now the Democratic nominee for president. Clinton had already blown past the 2,383-delegate mark to clinch the nomination, but Sen. Bernie Sanders, on behalf of the Vermont delegation, moved that the rules be suspended, and that Clinton be nominated by a voice vote, which was near unanimous. At this point, it’s no use to continue the resistance in the Bernie camp. At the same time, outside of the convention, Sanders supporters got into an intense argument with Clinton supporters that prompted more security to be present. They also chanted “Hillary or Jail” in the hallway. Roll Call’s Alex Roarty captured the action.

Hillary Clinton Is Officially The Democratic Nominee

Hillary Clinton is officially the Democratic Party's nominee for president. She is the first female presidential candidate from a major party.

Here's Bernie Sanders' Brother Casting A Vote For Him

In an emotional moment during the roll call at the Democratic National Convention, Larry Sanders, a delegate representing Democrats Abroad, cast his vote for his younger brother Sen. Bernie Sanders. Larry Sanders said that his parents, who both passed away young, would be so proud of their son.

A genuine show of emotion at what must be an unbelievable time for the Sanders family.

Afghanistan Suffers Record Number of Civilian Casualties With Disturbing Number Of Child Victims

A few weeks after President Obama announced the United States would keep over 8,000 troops in Afghanistan, more than originally planned, due to unstable conditions in the region and the Taliban’s unrelenting violence, the United Nations is reporting that a record number of civilians have been killed or injured since January 2016.

The Human Rights branch of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan found that between January 1 and June 30, 2016, Afghanistan suffered 5,166 civilian casualties. This includes 1,601 dead and 3,565 injured. This number is the highest toll since 2009.

“This report once again lays bare the suffering inflicted on civilians by parties to the conflict in Afghanistan and shows how the conflict deprives them of basic human rights protection, displacing Afghans within their own country and forcing many to seek refuge abroad,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is quoted as saying.

Among all the grim numbers, here is perhaps the most horrific: UNAMA recorded 1,509 child casualties in the six-month period. In other words, children accounted for one in three of all victims. This is an 18 percent increase in comparison to the statistics a year ago.

Three times more children than women were killed or maimed, with UMAMA documenting 507 women casualties.

Since January 2009, over 20,000 Afghan civilians have died and more than 40,000 were injured.

As if these statistics didn’t seem bad enough, the UN notes that it has “almost certainly underestimated” the “conservative” estimates of casualties.

The UN report determined that about 60 percent of the casualties were caused by “anti-government elements” such as the Taliban, ISIS, and other terror groups. “Pro-government forces,” or the country’s official security forces, accounted for another 23 percent of the deaths.

How could so many innocent bystanders die in the crossfire? The UN reported that a variety of factors result in civilian deaths, including suicide bombs and improvised explosive devices. An article on the UN’s news page explained why Afghan children are often killed or injured:

“Explosive remnants of war disproportionately impacted children who comprised 85 per cent of the casualties caused by such devices. The report contains several accounts of children killed or maimed while playing with such objects.”

A top UN official had strong words for all parties involved in the Afghan conflict, writing the report “represents a failure of commitment and should be a call to action … to reduce civilian suffering and increase protection.”

McAuliffe to CNN: 'Your Story Was 100 Percent Wrong'

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has been starring in many headlines lately about his attempts to circumvent the Virginia Supreme Court and restore felons' voting rights. Yet, on CNN on Tuesday, CNN anchor Erin Burnett confronted him about another recent scandal. 

In May, McAuliffe came under FBI investigation for reportedly accepting campaign donations from Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang, who also reportedly donated to the Clinton Foundation. Those contributions appeared to violate a U.S. election law that prohibits foreign nationals from donating to federal, state or local elections.

When Burnett brought it up to McAuliffe on Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention, he got testy and demanded an apology from her network.

"First of all the story's completely false," he said. "CNN got it 100 percent wrong and they owe me and apology. This man has never been under federal investigation. Your story was 100 percent wrong."

"Just tell your news get your facts right before you report them," he added.

When Burnett pressed McAuliffe as to whether the donations could become an issue for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, he deferred an answer by defending the Clinton's Foundation's efforts around the globe.

For what it's worth, McAuliffe's lawyer confirmed in May that the FBI is indeed investigating his client.

Hungary's PM On Hillary's Foreign Policy: 'Bad For Europe, And Deadly For Hungary'

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban voiced support Saturday for Trump's stances on foreign policy and migration. He said Clinton and the Democrats' policies would hurt Europe.

Orban is the first leader in the European Union to show preference for either candidate in the 2016 U.S. election. A conservative known for his position on immigration, Orban did not support the EU's plans to resettle thousands of refugees.

The Guardian quoted Orban explaining his position on the American political parties and their policies:

“The Democrats’ foreign policy is bad for Europe, and deadly for Hungary,” he said. “The migration and foreign policy advocated by the Republican candidate, Mr Trump, is good for Europe and vital for Hungary.”

Clinton and the Democrats have praised illegal immigrants and avoided mentioning ISIS during the DNC this week. Orban stated that Trump's stance against terrorism was also good for Europe.

Orban cited the Democrats' support for immigration and "export of democracy," and Trump's stance against such policies, as reasons for Hungary's interests aligning with the Republican presidential nominee's.

Orban explained in a Budapest radio interview in June that the export of democracy is using a country's "own democracy to bring happiness to people from different cultural backgrounds." According to Orban this foreign policy practiced by Europe has led to "catastrophe" in Iraq, Syria, and Lybia.

Like Trump, Orban strongly opposes illegal immigration, and has built a fence to defend the southern border of Hungary.

Rep. Alan Grayson Goes Off On Politico Reporter Who Asked Him About His Alleged Domestic Abuse

Things got a bit heated between Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere, who asked the Democratic congressman and Florida Senate candidate about the allegations made by his ex-wife that she was the subject of abuse by him for over two decades. Dovere alleges that Grayson pushed him during their exchange. Patrick Caldwell of Mother Jones captured the tension:

“No, you pushed me…no I’m sorry you pushed me” said Grayson. Dovere said that they captured the whole thing on video.

“Well, that’s a good thing. I’ll be handing that over to the Capitol Police, my friend” said an angered Grayson.

Devore asked if Grayson was going to tell the police that he’s accusing a reporter of simply, asking a question.

“No, No—not for asking these questions. For getting in my face and being a fool—and pushing me as I was trying to make this event,” said Grayson. “You know, I’m hoping that somebody comes here and arrests you,” Grayson said.

Politico posted earlier this morning about the domestic abuse allegations made by his now ex-wife:

Rep. Alan Grayson's ex-wife repeatedly went to police with accusations of domestic abuse over a two-decade period, according to documents she has provided to POLITICO, revelations that come as the Florida congressman enters the final weeks of his Democratic primary campaign for Senate.

Lolita Grayson called police on her husband at least two times in Virginia and two more times in Florida, sought medical attention on at least two occasions and said that, in one instance, he had threatened to kill her, according to a police report.

The congressman, who asserted Lolita Grayson battered him in 2014, vehemently denies he engaged in any abuse during their 25-yearmarriage, which ended last year in a bitter annulment that she is now appealing.

The first reported incident described by the documents was in 1994; the final one was in 2014. Lolita Grayson also called Orange County sheriff’s deputies in 2005 to lodge another abuse complaint, but prosecutors filed no charges in that incident or any of the others. Only the 2014 incident has been previously reported.

The Washington Examiner spoke with Dovere, who told them “As the congressman himself said, he attended a public event. He's a public official appearing at a public event. I attempted to ask him questions about the serious allegations of domestic abuse by his ex-wife."

Last year, Grayson said that his ex-wife was a gold digger.

Live From Philly: Analyzing the DNC, Trump's Polling Bump

PHILADELPHIA - Via Right Sightings and Fox News, here's my analysis of day one at the DNC, starting with a discussion with Greta Van Susteren and AB Stoddard on the angry dysfunction that marred Monday's early programming -- plus a look at Donald Trump's freshly-minted (albeit razor thin) national polling lead:

And here's my bright and early Fox & Friends hit breaking down the primetime proceedings, with an eye toward the general election dynamics as well:

Stay with The Tipsheet for our full and continuing Townhall team coverage as the Democratic National Convention chugs along here in the City of Brotherly Love.  Before you go, read SE Cupp's strong critique of the week's proceedings thus far.  One key passage:

For all of the Dems who poo-pooed the RNC for its tone and lack of substance — fair criticisms — the DNC so far doesn’t sound all that different. RNC speakers were blasted for obsessively and viciously attacking Hillary — the chants from the crowd of “Lock her up!” were especially unacceptable for squeamish liberals, despite the fact that Clinton could very well have been locked up had the FBI found her handling of classified information criminal instead of just “extremely careless.”... Yet at Hillary’s DNC, Sanders’ supporters chanted the very same thing, not only on the streets outside the convention, but on the convention floor itself. Democrats at the RNC said they were disturbed to see that speakers seemed united only over their hatred of Clinton...When Warren spoke on the main stage, in a key hour, she used most of her time not to sing the praises of Hillary, but to bash Trump. She referred to him more than 20 times in her speech, descending into a nasty character attack and ripping him as “a man who has never sacrificed anything for anyone: and a “man who cares only for himself, every minute of every day.” She talked about his “stupid wall” and his “hate-filled America.” This is high-minded? This is substance?

Cupp also points out that after criticizing Republicans for "politicizing" and "exploiting" the Benghazi attacks with an impassioned speech from Patricia Smith, Democrats will showcase a group of mothers who lost loved ones to gun violence and police killings on the primetime stage tonight. Will the media wring its hands endlessly over that, too? Read the whole thing.

Watch LIVE: More Fireworks Expected During DNC Roll Call

After a hostile first day at the 2016 Democratic National Convention on Monday, which included its fair share of jeers and boos from the "Bernie or Bust" voters, what can we expect during the official roll call Tuesday night? Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will help Hillary Clinton make history when she officially becomes the first woman to be nominated as a major political party's presidential nominee.

Speakers Tuesday night include former President Bill Clinton and the mothers of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Sandra Bland.

Bernie Sanders Technically Still Hasn't Suspended His Campaign

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is still technically running for president, as he has yet to formally suspend his campaign. In his speech last night, Sanders acknowledged that Hillary Clinton should be the next president, yet also said that he looks forward to his delegates voting for him in Tuesday's roll-call vote.

On his website, Sanders is still soliciting for donations to his campaign. His wife, Jane Sanders, had an awkward hot mic moment on Monday evening.

People were also making jokes about how Sanders is having a very tough time at letting his campaign go:

Hillary Clinton will be formally nominated this evening--and hopefully by then Sanders realizes that the dream is dead.

Report: Sanders Will Not Be Nominating Hillary on Convention Floor Tonight

Former 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is expected to be sitting in his family box and not standing with the Vermont delegates on the convention floor during the roll call at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, Fox News is reporting.

In other words, Democrats will not experience the same Kumbaya moment they did in 2008 when Hillary Clinton nominated her former opponent Barack Obama, elevating him to reach the delegate threshold he needed. That honor this time around will be given to Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski.

Sanders has endorsed Clinton for president and told his supporters Monday night during his DNC speech to vote for her in November. Yet, it appears he is not ready to go so far as to be the one to guarantee her the nomination. 

The Vermont senator's supporters are justifiably frustrated over a primary process that seemed anything but democratic. They did, however, make themselves heard on Monday night, booing and jeering at any speaker that dared to suggest we elect Hillary Clinton in November.

Townhall, Hot Air Live From the DNC!

Guy Benson will join Hot Air's Ed Morrissey on The Ed Morrissey Show for live updates from the DNC in Philly at 4:00pm (EDT).

Viewers can watch via Facebook Live here.

Wasserman Schultz's House Race Heats Up

At first, Debbie Wasserman Schultz was poised to easily win re-election to her House seat, but that was before her recent email scandal and before Sen. Bernie Sanders decided to endorse her primary challenger. These recently leaked emails are providing political gold for both Republicans and Democrats running against Wasserman Schultz. 

Her primary challenger, Tim Canova is now using the email controversy to campaign against her. 

Canova took the opportunity to attack Wasserman Schultz over Twitter, check out the tweets below. 

His campaign has already received nearly $100,000 since the whole email scandal broke.

Canova has promised to campaign vigorously to unseat Wasserman Schultz in the coming months. 

"I have not left the district in eight months," said Canova. "That's not going to change between now and Aug. 30. I don't think there's going to be a great need for me to go up to Philly and chase the spotlight. We're making friends on the ground every day." 

Sanders endorsed Canova back in May. "Well, clearly, I favor her opponent," said Sanders in a statement. "His views are much closer to mine than as to Wasserman Schultz's."

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee even announced that they will not spend money on Wasserman Schultz primary campaign against Canova. 

Republican contenders have also used this scandal as an attempt to further highlights Wasserman Schultz's corruption. 

The emails just point out what so many of us believed, that the process was rigged for Hillary Clinton," said Joe Kaufman, one of two Republican primary candidates in Wasserman Schultz's Congressional District. "It looks a little like Debbie is getting a payback for her helping get Hillary Clinton elected. My campaign believes that people who wanted to vote for her just shouldn't vote at all because a vote for her is a vote for the rigged process."

"I think for the first time she has a chance to lose this election, even though it's in one of the bluest districts in the country," said the other GOP candidate Martin Feigenbaum.

Most people still believe that Wasserman Schultz is the most likely to win in November. Cook Political Report shows Schultz as a "solid" pick to win. 

"I think she'll win," said Douglas Smith, a Democratic strategist. "She's got the heavy support of voters, families."

Flashback: That Time DWS Said There Was No Evidence To Suggest DNC Was Tipping The Scales For Clinton

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, where soon-to-be-ex chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that she wasn’t tipping the scales for Clinton. National Review through Grabien posted this video compiling the moments, where the embattled DNC chair said that there’s no shred of evidence showing that she’s favoring Hillary Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders.

In the video, she says in a CNN interview, “Let me state again we are not putting our thumb on the scale for any candidate. In fact, I’m very proud of the result in our six debate schedule because quite frankly it’s resulted in record viewership.”

Yeah, all three points are lies. First, the debate schedule was one of the criticisms from the Sanders and then-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s campaigns that the process wasn’t going to be as open as some might have hoped at the outset of the Democratic primaries. Even left-leaning Politifact gave a false claim stamp to Schultz’s claim that this six-debate schedule was meant to maximize exposure. As for record viewership, more people watched the Republicans. Last point, we now have troves of evidence showing that the DNC was working against Sanders behind the scenes, making suggestions that many might say could be grounds for resignation or dismissal.

So far, only Mrs. Schultz has opted to show herself out through the exit of the DNC (via WaPo):

Many of the most damaging emails suggest the committee was actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign. Basically all of these examples came late in the primary -- after Hillary Clinton was clearly headed for victory -- but they belie the national party committee's stated neutrality in the race even at that late stage.


On May 5, DNC officials appeared to conspire to raise Sanders's faith as an issue and press on whether he was an atheist -- apparently in hopes of steering religious voters in Kentucky and West Virginia to Clinton. Sanders is Jewish but has previously indicated that he's not religious.

One email from DNC chief financial officer Brad Marshall read: “It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist."

Marshall added in a later email: “It’s these Jesus thing.”

In response, CEO Amy Dacey said: "Amen."

The email story has been a fiasco, even prompting the Florida Democratic delegation to boo Wasserman Schultz when she spoke with them Monday morning. It was a total disaster. It has Bernie supporters seething with rage—and it confirms what many have already thought about the DNC, especially if you were a Bernie-ite from the beginning. So, if you want evidence of the behind the scenes scale tipping done by Democrats against one of their own during the primaries, I suggest you head on down to Wikileaks. There are 20,000 emails to go over.

Eric Holcomb Chosen as GOP Nominee for Indiana Gubernatorial Race

A special Indiana Republican panel has picked Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb as the new GOP nominee for the open governor’s seat, replacing Governor Mike Pence after he moved to join Trump’s national ticket. The decision was made early Tuesday afternoon.

Holcomb was able to edge out Rep. Todd Rokita and Rep. Susan Brooks. Both of the lawmakers made the case that Lt. Gov Holcomb, having been recently appointed to his current position, had never won an election and would be a weak candidate to face Democratic challenger John Gregg. Recent polling has suggested Holcomb would perform worse than the others and he has had issues in the past with fundraising.

However, it seems a last minute endorsement from Governor Pence himself helped propel Holcomb to victory with the select committee members.

Sigh: Liberal Gay Rights Group Slams Trump for 'Pandering' to LGBT Voters

PHILADELPHIA - Please indulge a quick residual note from last week, as this has continued to really annoy me: On Thursday night in Cleveland, billionaire innovator Peter Thiel announced from the RNC rostrum that he is proud to be gay, Republican, and American.  He was applauded warmly.  Minutes later, Donald Trump made history by invoking "the LGBTQ community" in his acceptance speech, specifically within the context of the Orlando attack.  After vowing to protect gay Americans from the terrorism of a "hateful foreign ideology," Trump added a spontaneous observation, going out of his way to acknowledge how his conservative audience had responded to that line.  Watch:

"And I have to say, as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said. [Applause]."

Between Thiel and Trump, Thursday marked the post pro-gay primetime program...ever at a Republican National Convention, hands down.  I also think it's safe to say that Trump is the most overtly LGBT-friendly nominee in GOP history -- or at least the most notably ambivalent one on these issues. He's even adopted a "relax" posture on the so-called bathroom wars, which Thiel also blasted as a distraction from more pressing concerns. One might think that gay rights activists would consider all of this to be meaningful progress. Yet how was Trump rewarded? The influential Human Rights Campaign, which has endorsed Hillary Clinton, accused him of self-interested "pandering:"

The nation's largest gay rights group is accusing Donald Trump of "pandering" to gay voters in his convention speech by denouncing violence and oppression against the LGBT community. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin says it's "bizarre" that Trump is being praised. He says Trump referenced gays and lesbians "for his own selfish, political advancement." Griffin's group has endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton for president. In his speech, Trump noted the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida and pledged to do everything possible to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. Before Trump spoke, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel became the first person to say he's gay in a GOP convention speech. The Human Rights Campaign says it's disappointed Thiel didn't push Republicans toward LGBT equality. The group is criticizing Thiel for being "dismissive" of concerns about bathroom choice for transgender people.

What a myopic, hacktastic response from the partisans at HRC.  They criticized Thiel for standing in front of tens of thousands of Republicans and announcing that he's proud to be gay.  Not good enough, they huffed, seemingly ignoring the fact that he made a point of distancing himself from the party's platform, and missing his message on the restroom battles.  He was jabbing at both sides for elevating such a minuscule issue as the latest hot-button front in the culture wars; a clear subtext being to chide some Republican state legislators for pushing for a government solution to what effectively amounts to an imaginary problem.  And HRC leaders actually attacked Trump for going out of his way to correctly note that 49 "wonderful" Americans from "our" LGBT community were deliberately targeted because of their identity in the Orlando terrorist attack, and promising to protect them from future Islamist slaughter.  The prolonged applause Trump elicited underscored the important reality that although many conservative-leaning Americans are not supportive of same-sex marriage and other related legislation, Americans of varying ideological stripes can come together to value and defend the humanity of all of our citizens.  (This point was also lost on Anderson Cooper several weeks ago).  Selfish, HRC's president sniffed, backhanding Trump's gesture, and casting it in the least generous light possible.

Of course policy differences matter, but symbolism, tone and tolerance do too. But advancements on those fronts were met with scorn and cynicism. It's almost as if these are partisan operatives who are more interested in scoring political points and playing to a specific constituency and donor base than celebrating tangible progress across the political spectrum. Very disappointing. Last night here in Philadelphia, several speakers tried to paint Trump -- of whom I'm no fan -- as a run-of-the-mill homophobe, which is ridiculous.  They also pretended that Mike Pence is a bigot because he signed a bill that was nearly identical to the one Bill Clinton signed at the federal level in the mid-1990's. They curiously omitted the part of the Indiana saga where Pence reversed himself under pressure, insisting on "fixes" to the legislation.  No context, then no credit.  Marks of bad-faith actors.  I'll leave you with a reminder of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's obviously politically-calibrated "evolution" on gay rights policy questions, as well as my instant reaction to Thiel's remarks with Megyn Kelly (via Right Sightings):

Terrorist Who Murdered Priest In Normandy Was Under House Arrest For Previous Terrorism Charges

The terrorist who slit the throat of 85-year-old priest Fr. Jacques Hamel today in Normandy, France had previously been arrested on terrorism charges and was was sentenced to house arrest with an electronic monitor. He spent a year in prison after being arrested in Turkey attempting to reach Syria and join the Islamic State. He was granted unsupervised release periods from his parent's house between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The attack occurred during the church's 9 a.m. Mass.

The church attacked on Tuesday morning was reportedly on an ISIS list of potential targets discovered in April 2015. The suspect in today's attack lived near the church.

Security sources said one of the murderers was a convicted terrorist who was being monitored with an electronic tag and should have been living with his parents.

He was allowed out unsupervised between 8.30am and 12.30pm. The mass[sic] at Saint Etiennce's church started at 9am.

The same source said the church was one of a number of Catholic places of worship on a hitlist, discovered on an ISIS suspect in April 2015 - raising serious questions about France's intelligence agencies.

It's not exactly rocket science that giving a convicted terrorist periods of unsupervised release may not exactly be the best idea. A person can commit acts of terror around the clock, and clearly the terrorist in question didn't care about violating house arrest rules as he was willing to take a church hostage and slit the throat of an elderly priest.

Let's hope that this unspeakable act of depraved violence causes French authorities to wake up to how insane their criminal justice laws are. Convicted terrorists should not be walking around unsupervised.

This post has been updated to correct Fr. Hamel's age

Fraternal Order of Police Slams Hillary Clinton: Why Are You Shutting Out Widows of Police Officers From The DNC?

During tonight's DNC convention, which kicked off in chaos yesterday, the mother of Michael Brown will speak on stage. Michael Brown was shot and killed in 2014 by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson after Brown attempted to take his gun, with the intention to use it against him during a struggle in Wilson's police cruiser. Despite these facts, which were proven by a Grand Jury and by the Obama Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder, the mainstream media continues to refer to Brown as an "unarmed black man" who was "shot by a white police officer." 

The mothers of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner will also give remarks. 

This speaker lineup has prompted the Fraternal Order of Police Philadelphia chapter to issue a statement to the DNC, saying Hillary Clinton should be ashamed and asking why widows and children of officers killed in the line of duty aren't on the agenda.

"The Fraternal Order of Police is insulted and will not soon forget that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton are excluding the widows, and other family members of Police Officers killed in the line of duty who were victims of explicit, and not implied racism, and 'being on duty in blue,'" Philadelphia Lodge 5 FOP President John McNesby said in the statement. "It is sad that to win an election Mrs. Clinton must pander to the interests of people who do not know all the facts, while the men and women they seek to destroy are outside protecting the political institutions of this country."

"Mrs. Clinton, you should be ashamed of yourself if that is possible," he continued.

The DNC and the Clinton campaign have not issued a response.


Weak Sauce: Pro-Clinton Granholm Defends Clinton's Flip-Flop On Trade, Says She'll Do Whatever Her Boss Says

The first day of the Democratic National Convention is over—and the Trans-Pacific Partnership was probably the major punching bag of the night. There is vicious opposition within the Democratic Party over this free trade agreement. An agreement that Hillary Clinton once called the gold standard for free trade deals. She has since walked back her praise. Yet, Donald Trump criticized free trade as well, and is actively trying to court Sanders supporters based on the issue of trade.

Sanders forced Clinton to the left on this issue, so what else could explain Clinton’s shift on TPP, besides sensing the political winds were not too favorable. Well, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm had a rather weak explanation after the Republican National Convention wrapped last week: she does what her boss tells her.

Granholm did add that trade is an important issue in her home state of Michigan, and that it’s important that the country adopt fairer trade deals, much like what Trump is saying on the stump. Granholm tried to highlight Clinton’s agenda on trade, which CNN’s Chris Cuomo interjected by saying, “he’s [Trump] never has his hands on trade policy and she [Clinton] has.”

“Well, alright, so—she worked…she supported her boss in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but when it came down to her evaluation of it—when she was gone—she said I’m not supporting that. But she’s going to go against the person who appointed her to the position, she’s going to do what her boss tells her,” replied Granholm.

“That’s leadership?” asked Cuomo.

Granholm said that you don’t go against the person who appointed you; otherwise you wouldn’t be in the cabinet very long. Well, yes and no. Yes, in general, that might be true, but this is Hillary Clinton. She’s a former First Lady, U.S. senator, and wife to one of the icons of the Democratic Party. She could probably have voiced an opinion or two about pretty much anything that came across her desk. Moreover, firing Clinton would cause more of a headache with endless stories about Clinton and Obama duking it out again post-2008 election. It’s a media whirlpool that’s simply not worth it. As for TPP, if she felt this deal was bad for the United States, then Clinton should’ve voiced her concerns as our secretary of state to President Obama. She didn’t because she may have truly felt that TPP was good for the country. She felt the North American Free Trade Agreement was good for the country when Bill signed it into law. The Colombia Free Trade Agreement looked even better once some petro checks from financer Frank Giustra were made out to the Clinton Foundation. At the time, both Clinton and Obama were against the agreement due to concerns over infringement of labor union rights, among other things. Giustra is now on the non-profits’ board of directors.

Yet, we all know Clinton changed her position because it was friendlier to the Democratic base. The thing is that Granholm just can’t say that her candidate flip-flopped out of political convenience. Then again, with the DNC leaked emails, they have bigger fish to fry.

Wait–There Were No American Flags At The Democratic Convention?; UPDATE: False Alarm; UPDATE: DNC Added Flags Anyway

The Daily Caller made a good observation: where are the American flags? 

UPDATE: I stand corrected, folks. Snopes found some Democrats wearing red, white, and blue at the convention, though the photo below doesn't convey as much. Nevertheless, such patriotic swag was present and the post has been updated to reflect the changes. Now, that's not to say that Democrats didn't foul-up last night by not mentioning ISIS. Cortney noted that the rise of the Islamic State, or any mention of the threats we face from radical Islam, was omitted. Not good, Democrats...not good. 

[Photo Credit: Daily Caller/Kerry Picket]

Now, in terms of flags in general—there was a Palestinian flag displayed last night. I’m (still) wondering when these Democrats are going to start booing God, like they did in 2012. Will it be tonight? 

UPDATE II: DNC adds more flags anyway

USA Freedom Kids Now Suing Trump Campaign

The USA Freedom Kids, the musical group of preteens who went viral following their performance of Freedom's Call at a Donald Trump rally in January, are now suing the campaign alleging they were promised things that never materialized.

Jeff Popick, the father of one of the group members, says that the campaign promised them the chance to perform at events as well as a table to sell pre-orders of the group's album, which is due to be released in September. None of these things happened.

From the Washington Post:

"This is not a billion-dollar lawsuit," Popick said. "I'm doing this because I think they have to do the right thing. And if this means having to go through the court system to enforce them doing the right thing, then that's what I have to do. I'm not looking to do battle with the Trump campaign, but I have to show my girls that this is the right thing."

Popick is quick to explain that the agreement was not written down, but, instead, involves a series of promises from various agents of the Trump campaign which he says were then broken.


Texas Judge Drops Charges Against Planned Parenthood Investigators

The Center for Medical Progress is the pro-life group behind the Planned Parenthood videos released last summer that showed employees negotiating the sale of fetal body parts. Instead of seeking punishment for the pro-abortion organization, a Texas grand jury chose to indict the two investigators behind the videos, arguing they broke the law by tampering with a governmental record, using fake identities, and were guilty of a misdemeanor charge of attempting to buy aborted baby organs.

On Tuesday, however, a Texas judge dismissed all charges.

CMP President David Daleiden responded to the welcome decision.

“The dismissal of the bogus, politically motivated charges against CMP project lead David Daleiden and investigator Sandra Merritt is a resounding vindication of the First Amendment rights of all citizen journalists, and also a clear warning to any of Planned Parenthood's political cronies who would attack whistleblowers to protect Planned Parenthood from scrutiny," he said in a statement. "Planned Parenthood tried to collude with public officials to manipulate the legal process to their own benefit, and they failed. A year after the release of the undercover videos, the ongoing nationwide investigation of Planned Parenthood by the House Select Investigative Panel makes clear that Planned Parenthood is the guilty party in the harvesting and trafficking of baby body parts for profit.”

Hopefully this is one step closer toward the pro-life community holding the real culprit accountable.