Smart Power: Cash-Flush Iran Steps Up Funding to Radical Group Attacking US Ships

Behold, the latest machinations of our newly-enriched "peace partners" or whatever, who -- as President Obama himself anticipated -- have been putting their sanctions relief windfall from the nuclear agreement to prompt use, stepping up support to terrorists and anti-American militias. Their world-leading state sponsorship of terrorism is "undiminished" since the Obama administration bypassed Congress and struck an agreement with the Al Qaeda-harboring regime, under which Tehran receives tens of billions of dollars in exchange for a temporary, loophole-filled pause of their previously-illegal nuclear program.  Contra Tim Kaine, the agreement does not even remotely "end" Iran's nuclear ambitions.  Just the opposite, in fact.  So with their coffers replenished, Iran is doing what Iran does -- via Reuters:

Iran has stepped up weapons transfers to the Houthis, the militia fighting the Saudi-backed government in Yemen, U.S., Western and Iranian officials tell Reuters, a development that threatens to prolong and intensify the 19-month-old war. The increased pace of transfers in recent months, which officials said include missiles and small arms, could exacerbate a security headache for the United States, which last week struck Houthi targets with cruise missiles in retaliation for failed missile attacks on a U.S. Navy destroyer. Much of the recent smuggling activity has been through Oman, which neighbors Yemen, including via overland routes that take advantage of porous borders between the two countries, the officials said...That raises a further quandary for Washington, which views the tiny Gulf state as a strategic interlocutor and ally in the conflict-ridden region. A senior U.S. administration official said that Washington had informed Oman of its concerns, without specifying when...The Iran-allied Houthis gained a trove of weapons when whole divisions allied to former Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh sided with them at the start of the war last year. But Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s exiled government say they also receive substantial amounts of weapons and ammunition from Iran. Tehran views the Houthis as the legitimate authority in Yemen, but denies it supplies them with weapons.

Yemen, you may recall, was touted by Obama as a success story in the region. Oops.  As the Reuters story mentions, not only are the Iranians increasing their global meddling, they're arming a group that is firing missiles  at American ships, prompting retaliatory strikes.  If you're keeping track of this brilliant 'smart power' diplomatic stroke, the US government forked over billions to a known sponsor of terror, which then...sponsored terror, transferring weapons to a militia that is now attacking American warships.  Take a bow, Mr. President.  And Madame Secretary, who laid the groundwork for the reckless nuclear accord -- which she still supports, despite a broad bipartisan consensus against it.  Meanwhile, Iran continues to flex its muscles in Iraq, helping to fill the power vacuum left over by the Obama/Clinton foolishly hasty, politically-motivated withdrawal from that country (where Iranian bombs have killed hundreds of US servicemen, it must be noted).  Things have gotten so bad with ISIS that Obama has quietly redeployed thousands of Americans to Iraq, though the administration insists they are in a non-combat role.  Tell that to the US soldier who was killed by an enemy IED just this week near Mosul.  And in case you missed Cortney's post earlier in the week, the Iranian government is demanding more ransom payments in exchange for the release of additional US hostages, more of whom Iran has inevitably seized since the last cash-for-hostages scheme.  The Washington Post's editorial board took notice of Iran's conduct vis-a-vis hostage-taking and ransom-demanding, scolding the Obama administration:

More and bitter evidence of [enduring tensions] came Tuesday, when Tehran announced that two American citizens and a permanent U.S. resident had been sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of “cooperating with the hostile U.S. government.” ... The government of Hassan Rouhani, which negotiated the nuclear deal with the Obama administration, is often portrayed as opposed to this de facto hostage-taking. If so, the government appears powerless to prevent it. Instead, officials complain about the relatively slow return of Western investment and trade following the lifting of United Nations sanctions, even as some of those who promote the opening are unjustly imprisoned. Iranian foreign policy, too, remains unchanged. The regime has dispatched thousands of fighters to Syria to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad and is using Shiite militias to extend its influence across Iraq. It is encouraging Russia’s new bid for influence in the Middle East while doing its best to drive out the United States...Though it was officially part of a separate claims settlement, the Obama administration’s delivery of $400 million in cash to the Iranian regime at the time of the release of Mr. Rezaian and other prisoners may have whetted the appetites of Tehran’s jailers.

"May have."  Cute.  Iran is a malignant actor running roughshod over a weak American president who is obsessed with protecting the legacy of the terrible nuclear deal he struck, at virtually any cost. His administration paid one massive ransom to Iran to buy back some imprisoned Americans (the "official" story is a laughable pretext), and now -- surprise! -- Tehran is back at that well, asking for more. And why wouldn't they? Obama has offered concession after concession, even after the lopsided accord was finalized -- including lifting sanctions on key banks closely tied to Iran's illegal ballistic missile program. The regime is getting everything it wants, including, it seems, the ability to purchase new airplanes from US companies. A comprehensive, humiliating, dangerous rout.  And by the way, Mr. President:  No, Israel does not support the Iran deal.

Former RNC Chair Isn't Voting For Donald Trump--Or Hillary Clinton

Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who led the RNC from 2009 until 2011, will not be voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election, Steele said at a dinner honoring Mother Jones on its 40th anniversary. Steele said that he thought Trump's campaign gave voice to a "racist underbelly" in the United States, and thus, he won't be supporting it.

Steele also said the debates made him feel physically ill.

From BuzzFeed:

“I will not be voting for Clinton,” Steele told a dinner in honor of the 40th anniversary of the progressive magazine Mother Jones in San Francisco Friday. “I will not be voting for Trump either.”

Steele, a former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, said that Trump has “captured that racist underbelly, that frustration, that angry underbelly of American life and gave voice to that.”

“I was damn near puking during the debates,” Steele said, adding that he believes Trump only represents 30% of the Republican Party.

Current RNC Chair Reince Priebus has continued to support Donald Trump as Election Day grows near.

Republican Senator Wants to Get on With SCOTUS Nomination Before It's Too Late

Sensing a Hillary Clinton presidency is inevitable at this point, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is urging his colleagues to forward the Supreme Court nomination process before she enters the White House. President Obama's choice in Merrick Garland would be far better than any liberal justice Clinton requests, he argues.

"I said if we were in a position like we were in in '96 and we pretty much knew the outcome that we ought to move forward. But I think we passed that awhile ago," Flake said. "If Hillary Clinton is president-elect then we should move forward with hearings in the lame duck. That's what I'm encouraging my colleagues to do."

Yet, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is refusing to hold a vote. 

The Supreme Court is a significant factor in this year’s election. It was the very first thing the presidential nominees discussed at the debate in Las Vegas this week. Their visions for the court could not be more opposite. Donald Trump talked about appointing pro-life justices who will rule through a conservative bent, while Hillary Clinton spoke of the need to defend Roe v. Wade.

While Garland is not exactly a conservative hero (gun rights activists has some serious concerns) he is more middle-of-the-road than other potential candidates expected to be appointed by a Democrat. Should the GOP just take their chances with him?

Poll: Paul Ryan's Approval Collapses, More GOP Voters Say Trump Best Represents Their View Of The Party

Justin wrote about the hostile reception to Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan from Trump supporters at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Chants of “Paul Ryan sucks” were shouted, but is this an isolated incident? That is, is this just a representation of Trump supporters from the local area? No—not really. The latest polling shows that support for Ryan has collapsed, sinking 28 points…in a week. The YouGov poll had some interesting points concerning Ryan, Trump, and the brewing tensions that seem bound to erupt in civil war once this election is over.

Allahpundit noted that Ryan is experiencing the Ted Cruz treatment from his own side by refusing to campaign with Trump, though he hasn’t yanked his endorsement, which rightfully leaves some people wondering why this late in the game would anyone just stop supporting Trump. For starters, the Access Hollywood tape isn’t a deal breaker with many Republican voters, but it is one with almost a quarter of independents, who Trump needs to win over in order to win this election. Another interesting find in the crosstabs about Ryan is that most Republicans, despite their increasing dislike of him, view him as the leader of the GOP, not Trump:

You would expect a majority of Republicans to say Trump when we’re a month out from Election Day. Nope — it’s Ryan, narrowly, which reflects either the deep ideological ambivalence on the right to the nominee or a growing resignation that Trump’s going to lose and Ryan will be the leader of the party the day after. Interestingly, pluralities of Dems and independents also say Ryan, not Trump, is the leader of the party. That’s especially odd among Democrats since you’d think they’d want to spread the idea that the very unpopular Trump is the face of the GOP, not the mildly unpopular Ryan. Maybe that’s the result of Hillary Clinton having spent the last three months telling the country that Trump doesn’t represent mainstream Republicans, a talking point that’s driven other Democrats nuts since it lets Republicans downballot off the hook for Trump’s worst excesses. If the GOP hangs onto the Senate, that’ll partly explain why.

Well, just a second, how can it be that Ryan is viewed as the leader of the GOP, but most Republicans think that Trump’s views best represent their own vision of the party? In fact, a new Bloomberg poll had Gov. Mike Pence as the person GOP voters want to see as the face of the party, followed by Trump, and then Sen. Ted Cruz. Ryan is fourth on that list:

When asked in the latest Bloomberg Politics poll who should be the face of the party nationally in the event of a Hillary Clinton victory, likely voters who are or lean Republican splintered down a list of five options.

A plurality, 27 percent, picked vice presidential nominee Mike Pence. Trump got 24 percent, ahead of Texas Senator Ted Cruz at 19 percent, House Speaker Paul Ryan at 15 percent, and Ohio Governor John Kasich at 10 percent.


When asked which leader better represents their view what the Republican Party should stand for, 51 percent of likely voters who are or lean Republican picked Trump, while 33 percent picked Ryan and 15 percent said they weren’t sure.

What is clear in these data is that a large segment of Trump supporters are all-in with the candidate. They see him as capable of delivering on the promise of a greater nation. That said, just 38 percent of them say they will stay loyal and follow his future endeavors if he does not win,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey ahead of the final debate Wednesday. “If he were to lose, our data suggest his standing would diminish.”

Trump’s sliding popularity among party faithful may be another sign that his leadership would be less than welcome, especially since it already pales in comparison to the last nominee.

In the latest Bloomberg Politics poll, Trump’s favorability rating was 76 percent among likely voters who are or lean Republican, down from 81 percent in late September. Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s last nominee, was seen favorably by 91 percent in a Bloomberg poll in September 2012.

Still, I doubt that the Trump wing of the GOP will disband overnight. If Trump should lose, the Never Trump wing and the establishment will begin with the “I told you so” antics, which is ridiculous. We don’t need that post-November 8th. What the party needs is a long, detailed, and painful discussion on reconstruction—and the Trump crowd will have to be part of it. On one hand, Paul Ryan is sinking in favorability, but is viewed as the leader of the party. Trump appears to be sinking in favorability, though his is much higher than Ryan’s, but is not considered the leader of the GOP. Yet, a majority of Republican voters feels that he best represents their views of the party. It’s a rather tribal look at the party, one that seems primed to see hostilities break out, especially if Trump loses in November.

The Al Smith Dinner Highlights

If you watched the Al Smith Dinner Thursday night, you would have seen a night of fun laughs and witty humor. However, some of the jokes got a bit awkward for Clinton and Trump - who have run a pretty rough campaign thus far.

Here are some of the highlights from the two candidates:

Trump: “And even tonight, with all of the heated back and forth, between my opponent and me at the debate last night, we have proven that we can actually be civil to each other. In fact, just before taking the dais, Hillary accidentally bumped into me and she very civilly said, ‘Pardon me.’ And I very politely replied, ‘Let me talk to you about that after I get into office.’”

Trump: "You know, last night, I called Hillary a 'nasty woman,' but this stuff is all relative. After listening to Hillary rattle on and on and on, I don’t think so badly of Rosie O’Donnell anymore. In fact, I’m actually starting to like Rosie a lot.”

Trump: “You know, the president told me to stop whining, but I really have to say, the media is even more biased this year than ever before — ever. You want the proof? Michelle Obama gives a speech and everyone loves it — it’s fantastic. They think she’s absolutely great. My wife, Melania, gives the exact same speech — and people get on her case.And I don’t get it. I don’t know why.”

Clinton: “It’s a special honor to be here with Your Eminence. Now I know, Your Eminence, you were criticized for inviting both Donald and me here tonight, and you responded by saying “If I only sat down with those who were saints, I’d be taking all my meals alone. Now, just to be clear, I think the Cardinal is saying I’m not eligible for sainthood. But getting through these three debates with Donald has to count as a miracle.”

Clinton: “People look at the Statue of Liberty and they see a proud symbol of our history as a nation of immigrants, a beacon of hope for people around the world. Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a ‘four.’ Maybe a ‘five’ if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair. You know, come to think of it, you know what would be a good number for a woman? Forty-five.”

Clinton: “Now, you notice there is no teleprompter here tonight, which is probably smart, because maybe you saw Donald dismantle his prompter the other day. And I get that. They’re hard to keep up with, and I’m sure it’s even harder when you’re translating from the original Russian.”

Clinton:” It is great, also, to see Mayor Bloomberg here. It’s a shame he’s not speaking tonight. I’m curious to hear what a billionaire has to say.”

Watch Live: Donald Trump Speaks in Fletcher

Clinton Promptly Ends Press Conference When Asked About Project Veritas Videos

Hillary Clinton appeared to get very uncomfortable when asked by reporters about the recently released Project Veritas videos showing DNC operatives engaging in voter fraud and inciting violence at Donald Trump rallies.

“You know, I know nothing about this,” she told reporters on her campaign plane. “I can’t deal with every one of his conspiracy theories, but I hope you all have something to eat and something to drink on the way back to New York! Thank you.” 

Surprise: A New Email Scandal Lie Emerges From Hillary Testimony

Now that the final debate is more fully in the rearview mirror, let's revisit the scandal Mrs. Clinton barely discussed in Las Vegas.  She'll hide behind the "does not recall" obfuscations she offered to Judicial Watch under oath, but let's consider the context and the source: This is just another lie from a compulsive liar, lying about her national security-endangering email scandal for which nobody has been held accountable -- to the reported chagrin of the career FBI agents and DOJ lawyers who worked the case.  Via the Washington Examinerhere we go again:

Responding to a set of questions under oath last week, Clinton said through her lawyer that she did not recall discussing her server with Bryan Pagliano, the IT aide whose immunity deal was the first to emerge publicly from the year-long FBI probe. "Secretary Clinton states that she does not recall having communications with Bryan Pagliano concerning or relating to the management, preservation, deletion, or destruction of any emails in her email account," Clinton testified through her lawyer, David Kendall, after raising objections to the question. But emails provided to conservative-leaning Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act show Clinton included Pagliano in discussions about her Blackberry, iPad and server when her network experienced problems in 2012..."Let me take a look at the server to see if it offers any insight," Pagliano wrote in an email to Clinton after she complained to him and Cooper of the "troubles" plaguing her Blackberry. The new records were among the roughly 15,000 emails FBI agents turned over to the State Department at the conclusion of their investigation.

Her testimony was that she "does not recall" ever communicating with Bryan Pagliano, the IT tech who set up and operated her bootleg, unsecureimproper server.  That doesn't pass the smell test on its face.  She never communicated with the guy who was running this scheme for her?  Buying that story requires a "willful suspension of disbelief," as Clinton once said in a nasty partisan confrontation with David Petraeus (approximately 1,000 official emails with whom her team wrongfully deleted and withheld from the State Department, about which Clinton then lied).  Beyond the smell test, these newly-released emails identify at least one instance in which Clinton personally emailed Pagliano, seeking assistance when her system was on the fritz (relatedly, you may remember that during a separate bout of server technical difficulties, the State Department actually disabled its official system's virtual defenses in order to try to accommodate her issue).  Sec. Clinton reached out to Pagliano for help, and he replied that he was working on the issue.  Does anyone believe this was the only time the two interacted?  It's a safe bet that she can't recall that either.  Meanwhile, experts are casting doubts on former State Department official Patrick Kennedy's tale about why he was in touch with an FBI official about email classifications, which he insists was not a quid pro quo offer:

A top former Justice Department privacy officer on Wednesday called it “extremely unlikely” that a senior U.S. diplomat would normally discuss the nuances of classification levels of one of Hillary Clinton’s emails about Benghazi with the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s international operations bureau. Patrick Kennedy, the State Department’s under secretary of management, was accused this week of offering a possible quid pro quo with the FBI in May 2015 to regarding the classification of an email about the 2012 attack on a diplomatic compound in northern Libya. In exchange for keeping the email unclassified, FBI documents released this week suggested, the State Department would agree to host more FBI agents in Iraq...the Justice Department’s former information and privacy director, Dan Metcalfe, on Wednesday said it was “extremely unlikely” that the Kennedy would seek advice on this particular classification issue from now-retired FBI agent Brian McCauley, who at the time was the bureau’s deputy assistant director for international operations. Instead, Metcalfe suggested, Kennedy likely called [McCauley] knowing the FBI wanted more agents in Iraq, but had been stymied in the past.

In other words, Kennedy's attempted machinations were basically exactly that they looked like: A political effort to protect Hillary Clinton, via mutual backscratching.  Nice try, Patrick -- who seems to feature prominently in Hillary scandals with curious frequency. Former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy, whom we've quoted on various elements of this scandal, opines that the apparently attempted quid pro quo arrangement may be suspicious, but doesn't amount to bribery.  He builds the case that the criminality lies elsewhere. A Wall Street Journal editorial published this week details how the stench around this element of Hillary's email scandal continues to get more noxious:

The latest FBI document release on Monday contains interviews with officials revealing that in spring 2015 Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy contacted an FBI official to coax the FBI to downgrade from classified to unclassified a Benghazi-related email that had sat on Mrs. Clinton’s server. At the time Mrs. Clinton was still insisting she’d never transmitted classified information...Democrats claim this is all nothing more than State employees engaging in the usual “interagency dispute” over classification—which has been Mrs. Clinton’s defense from the start. But there is nothing usual about the State department calling in “shadow” lawyers to handle emails, intimidating FOIA staff or proposing deals with FBI officials to deep-six documents in State basements. These are the actions of bureaucrats and political appointees seeking to hide from the public the mishandling of sensitive information by the Democratic nominee for President...Speaking of the White House, the latest WikiLeaks release contains an email from Clinton aide Phillipe Reines to campaign staffers in March 2015. Mr. Reines is responding to a New York Times headline, “Obama Says He Didn’t Know Hillary Clinton Was Using Private Email Address.” “One of us should connect with the WH just so they know that the email will show his statement to not make sense,” he wrote. This is the latest evidence that Mr. Obama was aware of, and corresponded with, Mrs. Clinton on her private email server."

Obama new about it, then denied he knew about it -- a lie that even surprised Clinton's aides, according to hacked emails. Perhaps he was the "VERY VIP" individual whose identity and/or email address Hillary's assistant IT manager sought to strip off of emails in advance of their release. In any case, all of this simple fuels the overwhelming public sentiment that Mrs. Clinton is dishonest and untrustworthy. In this week's  Quinnipiac poll, a 49 percent plurality called Hillary unfit to be president -- a terrible number for a woman who's campaigning on her experience and qualifications. Fortunately for Democrats, her opponent is the man they were rooting for in the GOP primary, and whose "unfit" rating in that same poll was an unelectable (38/58).  Last but not least, even if Clinton had sworn that she'd never conversed with Pagliano about the management of her secret server, without any "recollection" fudging, would that have mattered?  Probably not.  Remember, Clinton appears to have lied to the FBI about violating protocols by using personal computers in the secure areas (SCIF's) of her residences:

That contradiction resulted in...absolutely nothing.  Just like everything else she's done.  Being a Clinton means never, ever being held accountable.  

Clinton Campaign's Urgent Memo: Hillary Needs to Sit Down With Black Reporters "Fast"

Hillary Clinton's campaign knew their candidate was struggling with the black community last summer. She had a brief meeting with Black Lives Matter activists that was awkward at best. Instead of discussing solutions with the young people, she merely appeared to be arguing with them and pointing fingers at them for preventing progress where racial relations are concerned. Clinton's team appeared to realize how unflattering this meeting would be to her image. Immediately following that contentious meeting, her Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri emailed with Karen Finney, a political consultant, noting the need to set Clinton up in an interview with a black reporter - stat. Who other than WikiLeaks made the discovery.

Unfortunately for Clinton, the optics did not improve in the following months. In January of this year, Clinton sat down with Ebony Magazine, but the conversation partly focused on how the candidate was appearing to pander to the black community. Clinton admitted she was guilty of pandering, jokingly or not, in a radio interview a few months later.

Unfortunately for her campaign, the Clintons' uneasy relationship with Black Lives Matter did not end in August 2015. In April, her husband accused activists of defending criminals.  In August, a Black Lives Matter leader directly accused the Clintons of using them for their own political goals. 

Clinton has received the endorsement of some prominent black leaders, such as Rev. Jesse Jackson, and her polling with the demographic is not exactly concerning. But, will this newly surfaced WikiLeaks email frustrate African-American voters to the point where they'll stay home? 

The Real Winner of Wednesday's Debate? Fox News

Wednesday’s final debate was the third most watched presidential match ever, with 71.6 million viewers. And Fox News walked away the real winner. Not only was Fox News’ Chris Wallace praised for his “sterling performance” as moderator, but the network surpassed all the others—cable or broadcast—with 11.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

ABC came out ahead for broadcast networks with 10.9 million viewers.

What a Shame: Election Overshadows 100th Anniversary of Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood, an organization that performs over 300,000 abortions every year but disguises itself as a "women's health" provider, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this month. 

Thanks to the presidential election, you may not have heard about it. 

Planned Parenthood's attempt to stoke enthusiasm has largely gone unnoticed. Last weekend, they tried to start a trend entitled #100YearsStrong. It only trended once, and for a short period of time. In fact, many tweeters were pro-lifers who were trolling the campaign, using it as an opportunity to remind people about Planned Parenthood's radical abortion agenda.

Abby Johnson, founder of the pro-life group And Then There Were None, offered a statement on the embarrassing failure of a tweetfest.

"Over and over again, we see Planned Parenthood desperately attempting to remain relevant among younger populations. But the bottom line is that young people are rejecting Planned Parenthood and their deceptive marketing. Planned Parenthood's primary base of support is from post-menopausal women who don't even have Twitter or Instagram accounts. Not to mention the sheer lack of tact in them celebrating their "birthday", when they have taken birthdays away from millions of unborn human beings." 

Of course, the Democratic nominee and her running mate choose to ignore these sobering statistics. Both Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine tweeted their praise for the organization on its anniversary. 

Clinton has also promised to uphold abortion rights on the Supreme Court. As Guy noted, she is "fanatically consistent" on this issue. At Wednesday night's Vegas debate, the Democratic nominee defended her support of partial-birth abortion, although most Americans are against the procedure at such a late state in a woman's pregnancy.

The Stream is hosting its own campaign, #100ForLife, asking contributors to share any stories they may have about their decisions to reject abortion. 

As a reminder.

Did WikiLeaks Just Issue a Warning to Tim Kaine, Donna Brazile?

WikiLeaks has issued what seems to be a warning to vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine and Donna Brazile, the interim chair for the DNC.

In a tweet Thursday evening, Wikileaks said they “have a surprise in store” for the two Democrats.

Brazile has made headlines a few times thus far from the leaked emails. First when the DNC was hacked over the summer leading to Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation, more recently when she seemed to give an exact debate question to the Clinton campaign.

Kaine, for his part, has remained largely untouched by the leaked emails.

Trump's Al Smith Dinner Speech Gets Too Political, Draws Boos

We knew it was going to be awkward. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were tasked with sitting just one seat apart from each other at the Al Smith dinner in New York City just 24 hours after their third and final presidential debate. The annual event was created to benefit Catholic charities.

The dinner started great. The chairman of the event, Alfred E. Smith IV, had a contagious sense of humor and noted that this year's dinner broke a fundraising record. It was smiles all around. When he handed the microphone off to Donald Trump, the GOP nominee started off with some seriously funny jabs. He threw some harmless jokes Clinton's way, noting this must be the biggest crowd she's drawn all year. Trump's home run moment, though, was when he snuck in a jab at his wife Melania for her RNC speech, parts of which turned out to be copied from an old Michelle Obama speech. That joke, he said, was bound to get him in trouble when he gets home. 

But, the laughter and applause turned to boos when his speech got a bit too political for the religious crowd. He called Clinton "crooked," brought up her email scandal and suggested that she was pretending to like Catholics by being there tonight. It all seemed a little too controversial for what was supposed to be a lighthearted evening.

Social media users noted that was an unfortunate first for the Al Smith dinner.

When Clinton went up to the podium, she said she was surprised Trump agreed to a "peaceful transition," poking fun at his continual argument the election is "rigged." She also included her own bit of self-deprecating humor, noting she took a break from her napping schedule to be there.

Despite the obvious tension, at one point Trump and Clinton did manage to shake hands - a feat for which the host noted Cardinal Dolan should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The crowd's loudest applause seemed to come when the speakers noted the election will be over very soon.

10th Alleged Victim Comes Forward

The day after Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton squared off in their third and final presidential debate Wednesday night, a 10th woman has come forward claiming the GOP nominee once sexually assaulted her. In a press conference with attorney Gloria Allred, Karena Virginia said that Trump grabbed her at the 1998 U.S. Open.

Karena Virginia, a self-described wellness expert and TV personality, alleged that Trump grabbed her arm and touched her breast during an encounter at the U.S. Open in Flushing, Queens, New York, in 1998.

“Hey, look at this one,” she recalled overhearing Trump telling a group of men. “We haven’t seen her before. Look at those legs.”

Virginia said those comments made her feel like an "object" rather than a person.

Businessman and Clinton surrogate Mark Cuban made news Wednesday night before the debate when he said he knew at least two other women who were victimized by Trump, but refuse to come forward. In that same conversation, Trump's friend and ally, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, denied the allegations. He said witnesses have falsified at least one woman's story, while noting that he's known Trump for years and he has always been a gentleman to women. 

The GOP nominee has also repeatedly denied the women's claims, concluding it is a coordinated attack on him just a few weeks before the general election. The alleged victims came forward after Trump denied ever acting on what he crudely described in the infamous "Access Hollywood" tapes. 

Watch Live: Trump, Clinton Meet Again at Al Smith Dinner

Video: Calling Out the 'Sanctimonious Hypocrisy' of 'Gore Won' Democrats

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA -- As I predicted last night and again early this morning, the post-debate news cycle has been largely consumed by Donald Trump's refusal to pledge to respect the outcome of November's election. His message was quickly repudiated by his campaign manager, running mate, and other key allies -- and Trump himself "clarified" his remarks early Thursday. While his partial walk-back is welcome, he inflicted this wound on himself live, in front of 70 million-plus debate viewers. Polling shows that an overwhelming majority of US voters believe candidates should pledge to abide by electoral outcomes, and Trump's answer played poorly with Frank Luntz's focus group of undecided voters. What to make of this whole brouhaha? I discussed that question on Fox News earlier this afternoon, via Right Sightings:

In short, I argued that there's no excuse for Donald Trump's reckless insinuations and assertions that the whole system is fraudulent and rigged against him -- and that many of the liberals proclaiming to be deeply scandalized by his conduct refuse to acknowledge to this day that President Bush won Florida in 2000, in spite of the  incontrovertible evidence. Some forms of undermining the legitimacy of election results and eroding public faith in the system are more acceptable than others, it seems. Philip Klein's balanced column on this partisan food fight is worth your time.  A taste:

Back in 2000, Election Day was on Nov. 7, and it wasn't until Dec. 13 that Gore, after more than a month of lawsuits culminating in a Supreme Court decision, acknowledged that George W. Bush would be the next president. As my colleague Tim Carney has pointed out, liberals did not accept the result of the election, with Democrats even calling it a "coup." Even those who now talk about how Trump's comments are undermining democracy still challenge the legitimacy of the 2000 election result. It's an article of faith that the Supreme Court handed Bush the election in a purely partisan decision, even though, as Tim has detailed, an exhaustive media recount of the Florida ballots showed that Bush still would have won. Despite this, Bush was routinely referred to as "president-select." And Hillary Clinton has not been innocent in this...All of this having been said, it would also be unfair to suggest that what Trump is doing right now is in any way equivalent to the situation in 2000. In 2000, controversy erupted after an election in which Gore won the popular vote and came within a few hundred votes in the deciding state, in which 6 million votes were cast. So in theory, small voting irregularities or the treatment of a tiny percentage of ballots could have tipped the balance of the election. Gore, himself, did eventually concede once the legal process had played out. This is a lot different from Trump. Weeks before Election Day, just as he started tanking in polls, Trump preemptively began talking about the election system being "rigged," portraying a vast, widespread, nationwide conspiracy to deny him the presidency. It's an election that Clinton is poised to win by millions of votes and over 100 electoral votes.

Klein notes that Mrs. Clinton has fueled the 'Gore won' conspiracy over the years, calling Bush "selected," and averring that "a court took away a presidency."  That second quote comes from way back in...2016.  And via Allahpundit, here's sitting Congresswoman and former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schutz peddling the lie just last year:

They caterwaul that Trump's (admittedly toxic and baseless) preemptive excuse-making for his likely loss is tearing at the very fabric of our republic, yet they're the same people who've endlessly repeated the debunked mantra that a presidential election was stolen by Bush and unjustly rigged by the Supreme Court. But that's different. Because shut up. I'll leave you with two items: First, Hillary running down the embarrassing litany of circumstances in which Trump has shrieked "rigged" when things didn't go his way (likely part of the reason his temperament numbers are in the toilet), followed by Trump's unhinged election night tweetstorm rejecting the validity of the 2012 presidential results:

Question: Did Romney "choke like a dog," or was he robbed by fraudsters, Donald? Also, based on a fair amount of evidence, the only thing Trump may have been right about on that list was the outcome of the FBI's email scandal investigation.

Surprise: Iran Wants Ransom Payments to Release New American Hostages

Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer are two of six American hostages currently languishing in Iran. The two were just sentenced to 10 years in prison this week. Iran is willing to release them on one condition - they want more money from the U.S. government.

Iran is seeking “many billions of dollars” in payments from the United States in exchange for the release of several U.S. hostages still being detained in Iran, according to reports by Iran’s state-controlled press that are reigniting debate over the Obama administration’s decision earlier this year to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what everyone (except the Obama administration) knew what would happen when we agreed to pay Iran a total of $1.7 billion in cold hard cash for the release of four American prisoners in January. They got what they wanted once, so why not ask for more?

As The Washington Free Beacon notes, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani fully expects more payouts from the United States in the future, an action Congress has been furiously trying to prevent via legislation.

We were supposed to have the upper hand with the Iranian nuclear deal President Obama signed last summer. Iran was supposed to halt its nuclear weapons program and become a more cooperative international player. Yet, these past months have only confirmed that all the agreement did was embolden our dangerous adversary.

Hypocrisy: Morning Joe Lists The Many Times Liberals Said The GOP Was Rigging or Stealing Elections...Especially The 2000, 2004 Races

Liberals are going nuts over Donald Trump’s endless trolling that he might not accept the final results of this presidential election. Today, he took it up a notch by saying; “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election…if I win.” Besides the epic trolling here, which worked because the media took the bait—Trump will accept the results. “Of course I would accept a clear election result,” he added. “But I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result.” Guess what? That’s not controversial and every candidate reserves that right to challenge the results. It’s not a story. Take a shot of Wild Turkey, liberal media and allies. He’s playing you.

What isn’t true is that this is unprecedented for people to say that this election is rigged or is being stolen. When Democrats found themselves losing for the better part of a decade under President Bush (aka the best living president ever), they too spewed out stories about how Bush v. Gore stole the election, how the GOP is rigging things in Ohio, and how Howard Dean said that we shouldn’t be shocked that the GOP are willing to manipulate elections in a 2006 Rolling Stone interview. Dean was then the chairman of the Democratic National Committee:

I’m not confident that the election in Ohio was fairly decided...we know that there was substantial voter suppression, and the machines were not reliable. It should not be a surprise that the Republicans are willing to do things that are unethical to manipulate elections that’s what we suspect has happened, and we’d like to safeguard our elections so that democracy can still be counted on to work.”

MSNBC’s Morning Joe documented the history of liberals complaining about rigged elections today. As for unethical actions, it should never cease to amaze us how these people can just lie. The videos that James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas group released show Democratic operatives scheming to commit voter fraud, admitting that they paid operatives to instigate violence at Trump rallies, and facilitating lines of communication between pro-Clinton super PACs which is illegal under federal election law. So, we have evidence here, whereas the 2004 Ohio whine fest was simply that Democrats couldn’t convince enough voters to cast their ballot for weak, tepid, and aloof John Kerry. Kerry sucked, Bush won—get over it.

Cortney and Katie also wrote today about how Clinton even believed that Bush didn’t win the 2000 election. Bush won. He won both times, but liberals, like a bunch of high school girls, just can’t seem to let this go. And when a Republicans alleges that voter fraud schemes are being cooked up, with videos showing as much, they go ballistic. I don’t think this election is being rigged. Certainly some bad stuff from the progressive left had been executed this cycle, like shutting down Trump’s rally in Chicago. But it would be best if Trump focuses on listing what he would do to make America great again, while reminding folks about Hillary’s email fiasco and foundation dealings.

(H/T Free Beacon)

Ouch: Fewer Americans Have Private Health Insurance Now Than Before Obamacare Reform

Guy wrote about the coming damage Obamacare will inflict upon us in 2017. In short, it’s a total disaster, with premiums set to spike to outrageous levels, 75 percent in Arizona alone. Another punch to the gut regarding this miserable failure of a health care law; there are fewer Americans with private insurance now than there were in 2007 (via Weekly Standard):

That's according to the federal government's own figures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (see table 1.2b), 66.8 percent of those living in the United States had private health insurance in 2007. Now, as of 2015 (the most recent year for which figures are available), only 65.6 percent of those living in the United States have private health insurance.

It turns out that median incomes aren't the only thing that have dropped since 2007.

There are currently about 320 million people living in America. If the percentage who have private health insurance were as high now as it was in 2007, 3.8 million more people would now have private health insurance.

This isn’t the only thing that off. The projections from the Congressional Budget Office regarding where enrollment should be with Obamacare missed its target…by 24 million. Hope and change, folks.

Apache Helicopters Now "Advising" Military Operations in Iraq

Since the rise of ISIS in 2014, the White House has maintained U.S. troops and special operators deployed to Iraq are not engaged in combat, but instead are simply advising Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the region to defeat the terror army. 

This wasn't true then and it isn't true now. 

The Pentagon has just announced Apache helicopters will be used by the United States in the effort to take back Mosul from ISIS. The Mosul offensive, the largest since the majority of U.S. troops were initially pulled out of Iraq in 2011, was launched earlier this week. More than 25,000 U.S. troops have been deployed for the effort.

During intense fighting today, a U.S. servicemember was in a roadside IED bombing while "advising" and assisting in the offensive. 

Earlier this year Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV was killed in Iraq and video surfaced showing others under heavy combat fire. 

Despite U.S. combat casualties, the White House continues to claim U.S. troops are in strict advisory roles.  The White House has also argued U.S. servicemember deaths are not combat related because Kudish or Iraqi forces are leading the operations U.S. troops are a part of as advisors, not active soldiers.

Is Your Town on the Clinton Campaign Trail?

The debates may be over but the race to the White House surely isn’t. There are 19 more days until election day, which means 19 more days of intense campaigning. See if Hillary Clinton or her running mate Sen. Tim Kaine will be coming to a town near you. 

Clinton Events 

Oct. 21: Cleveland, Ohio | Cuyahoga Community College | 4:30 PM, Doors open at 2:30 PM | Get Out the Vote Rally 

Oct. 22: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania | Location TBD | Time TBD (evening) | Get Out the Vote Rally | Will be joined by Sen. Tim Kaine

Oct. 22: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | Location TBD | Time TBD (evening) | Get Out the Vote Rally | Will be joined by Sen. Tim Kaine

Oct. 24: New Hampshire | Location TBD | Time TBD (afternoon) | Get Out the Vote Rally | Will be joined by Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Oct. 25: Florida | Location TBD | Time TBD | Get Out the Vote Rally 

Oct. 26: Florida | Location TBD | Time TBD | Get Out the Vote Rally 

Kaine Events

Oct. 20: Charlotte, North Carolina | Heist Brewery | 12 PM, Doors open at 10:30 AM | Early Vote Rally

Oct 20: Durham, North Carolina | The Bowl at North Carolina Central University | 5:15 PM, Doors open at 3 PM | Early Vote Rally

Oct. 21: State College, Pennsylvania | Penn State University | 2:30 PM, Doors open at 12:30 PM | Rally 

Oct. 22: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania | Location TBD | Time TBD (evening) | Get Out the Vote Rally | Will be joining Hillary Clinton 

Oct. 22: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | Location TBD | Time TBD (evening) | Get Out the Vote Rally | Will be joining Hillary Clinton 

Oct. 23: Alachua County, Florida | Location TBD | Time TBD (afternoon) | Early Vote Rally 

Oct. 23: Orange County, Florida | Location TBD | Time TBD (afternoon) | Early Vote Rally

Oct. 24: Miami-Dade County, Florida | Location TBD | Time TBD (afternoon) | Early Vote Rally

Oct. 24: Palm Beach County, Florida | Location TBD | Time TBD (afternoon) | Early Vote Rally

Oct. 25: New York City, NY | Location TBD | 5 PM | Hill's Kitchen: A Tasting Event with Tim Kaine | Hosted by Katie Lee

These events are subject to change. For more information, visit under ‘scheduled events.’

You can find Donald Trump’s campaign schedule here

Trump Jr. Says Running for President Is a "Step Down" For His Father

Donald Trump Jr. defended his father’s performance at the third presidential debate Wednesday night and said that running for president is a “step down” for the Republican nominee.

"He hasn’t spent his whole life to be up on the debate stage like a career politician,” Donald Trump Jr. said when asked how his father did during the debate. "He spent his life creating jobs, building things, doing things that would benefit American workers in this country.

Trump Jr. said his father was learning as he goes “because he’s a real American.”

"Imagine, if he was doing this for his whole life, he’d be the greatest politician in the history of the world."

He continued: "UnlikeHillary Clinton, who’s gotten very rich being a politician, peddling American influence, he hasn’t. This is only a step down.”

Trump’s son presumably meant that becoming a politician is a step down financially for his father.

BREAKING: U.S. Military Serviceman Killed in Mosul Offensive

A U.S. service member has been killed in a roadside suicide attack as the Mosul offensive against ISIS continues, with the most intense fighting so-far happening today. The name has not been released as officials notify the family. 

More than 25,000 U.S. troops are taking part in the Mosul offensive. The White House maintains U.S. military forces are not engaged in combat. 

U.S. officials and their intelligence partners in the region believe ISIS will use chemical weapons as Kurdish, Iraqi, Turkish and U.S. forces move further into the city.

"Thanks Obama": President Pats Himself on the Back in Last ACA Pitch

“You’ve heard a lot” about Obamacare, President Obama said in his last pitch for the Affordable Care Act on Thursday in Miami, Florida. He was obviously hinting at all the bad press his signature policy has received in the past seven years.

The president asked the audience why they think he and his administration fought for health reform in the first place? “It was because of you,” he said.

“It was because of the stories I was hearing all over the country. People who had been forced to fight a broken health care system.”

The president gave a few personal stories about patients who have supposedly been helped by the Affordable Care Act. Those patients, he said, concluded that Obamacare has provided them the “freedom and security to choose how I live my life.” That’s what it’s all about, he said.

Obama then listed several positive results of his controversial health care plan. Thanks to his policy, he said, customers now get free preventive care offered by insurance companies, free checkups for women and free mammograms. The Affordable Care Act, he noted, prevents companies from “discriminating against you if you’re a woman.”

He continued that young people are now able to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26 and health care inflation has slowed.

The president did admit premiums were still rising, (just look at Guy's latest post about the looming premium hikes in 2017) but insisted that they’ve gone up “the slowest in 50 years since Obamacare was passed.”

The majority of Americans do not get health care through the ACA, Obama noted. About 80 percent get health care on the job or through Medicaid or Medicare.

“For most Americans it has not affected your coverage except to make it better,” he said.

“You’re benefiting from it” even if you don’t know it’s Obamacare,” he said. “Thanks Obama.”

To quiet the criticism and improve Obamacare, the president said repealing it would not work. Instead, he suggested that states expand Medicaid and that we use the money we saved to provide more tax credits for middle income families and young adults to buy insurance. Finally, Obama suggested we add a "public plan fallback" to give people more options in places where there are not enough insurers to compete. He also encouraged "innovation" by the states to find a way to make these plans more affordable.

Obama concluded that it’s only because he’s a Democratic president that negative headlines continue to swirl around his plan.

“The Affordable Care Act has done what it was designed to do,” he said. “So why is there still such a fuss?”

Obamacare is so successful that Hillary Clinton will change it if she becomes president, and Donald Trump pledged to get rid of it altogether.

Flashback: Hillary Says George W. Bush Was Selected President, Not Elected

Much has been said about Donald Trump's refusal to flatly accept election results on November 8th. In fact, at the third and final presidential debate of the cycle last night in Las Vegas, Democrat Hillary Clinton said it was "horrible"  when Trump said he was going to wait and see what the results were. 

But according to statement by Clinton at a 2002 fundraiser, reported then by Newsweek and dug up today by Fox News' Brit Hume, the former First Lady said George W. Bush was "selected" president rather than elected after Al Gore refused to accept election results in 2000. Apparently Clinton hadn't accepted them either two years later.