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Pope Francis waves as he leaves after his weekly audience in St.Peter's square, at the Vatican City, May 13, 2015.   REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito  - RTX1CQXW
For many years, when it came to abortion and birth control, Republicans' cheerfully trotted out the Pope and Catholic teachings to justify draconian anti-choice laws against women. But there's a new sheriff Pope in town, and with his embrace of climate change, evolution, relations with Cuba, not to mention voicing concern about the poor, Pope Francis is making it a wee bit awkward for Catholic Republicans, and they seem to be rethinking that whole "infallible" bit:
Francis may be popular with the general public, but key Republican primary constituencies — hawks, climate-change skeptics and religious conservatives, including some Catholics, are wary of the pope’s progressivism. Some, pronouncing themselves "Republicans first and Catholics second ..."

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, meanwhile, have worked to draw a distinction between the pope’s authoritative declarations of Catholic belief, which they would feel compelled to follow, and his mere opinions, which they don’t consider binding. [...]

"As a Catholic, you always read what the pope has to say, but this would not have to do with faith and morals," Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said of Francis’ looming push on climate change.

He’s not a political figure,” Rubio said ... Santorum has been even blunter, remarking in January, "It’s sometimes very difficult to listen to the pope and some of the things he says off the cuff."

Comedy. (And by the way, do papal robes have cuffs?)
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The KITM Super Computer is still in the shop today. Or more accurately, it finally got into the shop today. See, at the Apple Store, you've got to make an appointment to tell them your computer is broken. On the upside, that means they can actually fix it within a reasonable amount of time once they get it.

Latest word is that they have to quote 3-5 days to fix it, just in case, but they think it could be faster. Fingers crossed! And yes, it looks like it's all covered by Apple Care and/or a parts recall. So that's good, too!

In the meantime, we'll be bringing you a rerun of the May 28, 2014 show today:

We started the morning with a little national security state chatter, just as a placeholder for future discussion. Greg Dworkin and Joan McCarter joined the show today and served us up a full plate of great stories. Reviewing the Kinsley review of Greenwald's book. The "First Amendment Blind Spot." Sam Wang handicaps the election handicappers. Concerned about veterans' health care? Expand Medicaid. Iran's bomb-making capacity is diminished. Had you heard? If not, why not? Abortion? Michael Boggs knows nothing about it! Mitch McConnell word salads his health care position. Bonkersghazi civil war continues. Speaking of which, Rand Paul gets himself four Pinocchios on the subject. End Times Alert: NY moms pay $1K for consultants to pack their kids' summer camp trunks.

Listen at 9:00 ET, here: Click this Link to Listen on your iTunes, Winamp or Windows Media Player

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Did you happen to miss our last LIVE show? You can catch it here:

The Josh Duggar shocker takes up a considerable amount of time today. The Boy Scouts of America are finally coming around to reality, it seems. Irish abroad are heading home to vote in today's historic referendum on marriage equality. Greg Dworkin agrees to come in (and fight through technical difficulties) on his birthday to round up stories on ACA's increasing popularity and entrenchment, Chris Christie's attempt at recovery that hometown papers aren't buying, handicapping who gets into the Gop debates, Obama's (un) lame duck status, a peek inside the American Board of Internal Medicine's finances, and Bill O'Reilly's in hot water (and in denial) again. NYT reporter goes way out on a limb on Hillary. Armando joins in to discuss the Duggar & O'Reilly news. Kansas, whose governor blows a lot, takes punishing the poor to a new level. Journos begin admitting they were wrong about the "Fight for $15." Self-driving cars might not necessarily kill us all.

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

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Today He Makes It Official

Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign announcement graphic
"The formal kickoff will set the stage for the campaign to come. I will lay out an
'Agenda for America' which addresses the major crises we face and a vision of a
government which works for all of our people and not just the billionaire class."
Can't say it much better than Stewart Acuff did here Saturday:
He is as honest as the day is long. He says what he means and means what he says. He stands up for you and me every time he has a chance. He stands up for people who will never vote, because he believes in loving your brother and sister. He is fearless, honorable, and American to the marrow of his bones. […] By the standards of the radical right-wing, Bernie Sanders is a socialist. By my standards he’s a great American who wants to improve the lives of all Americans, and in that way strengthen the core of America.
The Bernie 2016 kickoff rally starts at 5 eastern time at Waterfront Park in Burlington. (The weather forecast: partly sunny and warm.) If your transporter room is on the fritz, you can watch it live on MSNBC.

(Newly-updated official campaign website)

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]


Should members of Congress---mostly Republicans, it turns out---be prohibited from using their D.C. offices as rent-free crash pads instead of living in an actual residence like regular $174,000 a year folks?

62%599 votes
7%76 votes
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| 965 votes | Vote | Results

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We begin today's roundup with analysis by The Washington Post's Catherine Rampell on the increasing number of people identifying as liberals:

as “liberal” — socially liberal, to be specific. As a result, for the first time on record, self-proclaimed social liberals are no longer outnumbered by their conservative counterparts.

That’s according to a new Gallup poll that finds the shares of American adults considering themselves “socially liberal” and “socially conservative” each total 31 percent. (The remaining respondents either called their views “moderate” or had no opinion.) Gallup has been tracking these categories since 1999, and the latest numbers simultaneously signify the highest share ever recorded for liberals and the lowest recorded for conservatives.

What explains this shift? Are Americans’ views on social issues becoming more liberal, or is “liberal” just getting a bit of brand revival?

In short, it’s probably both.

Speaking of liberals, Ryan Cooper at The Week urges the media to take Bernie Sanders seriously:
if anything Sanders is more credible than the likes of Paul and Cruz. He has risen markedly in the polls of late, where his support has about tripled since the end of last year. He's doing particularly well in New Hampshire, where a recent poll put him in second place at 18 percent support. As an opponent of the Iraq War and a longtime advocate for more progressive policy, he has a natural constituency in the liberal left, where he is genuinely admired.

Will he win? The odds are surely against him. Clinton's level of name recognition, money, and elite support — Sanders didn't even pick up an endorsement from the governor of his home state — makes it a very tough challenge. But it's conceivable that he could win. As Hendricks notes, dark horse challengers like Jimmy Carter have reached victory facing even longer odds.

More on the day's top stories below the fold.
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Flag-draped caskets en route to Dover, Delaware.
Flag-draped caskets on their way back from Iraq to the United States.
Ray McGovern writes—Remember This on Memorial Day: They Didn't Fall, They Were Pushed. "Of all the world’s holidays commemorating wars, Memorial Day should be one of sober reflection on war’s horrible costs, surely not a moment to glorify warfare or lust for more wars":
 How best to show respect for the U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and for their families on Memorial Day? Simple: Avoid euphemisms like “the fallen” and expose the lies about what a great idea it was to start those wars and then to “surge” tens of thousands of more troops into those fools’ errands.

First, let’s be clear on at least this much: the 4,500 U.S. troops killed in Iraq—so far—and the 2,350 killed in Afghanistan—so far—did not “fall.” They were wasted on no-win battlefields by politicians and generals—cheered on by neocon pundits and mainstream “journalists”— almost none of whom gave a rat’s patootie about the real-life-and-death troops. They were throwaway soldiers.

And, as for the “successful surges,” they were just P.R. devices to buy some “decent intervals” for the architects of these wars and their boosters to get space between themselves and the disastrous endings while pretending that those defeats were really “victories squandered” – all at the “acceptable” price of about 1,000 dead U.S. soldiers each and many times that in dead Iraqis and Afghans.

Memorial Day should be a time for honesty about what enabled the killing and maiming of so many U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and the senior military brass simply took full advantage of a poverty draft that gives upper-class sons and daughters the equivalent of exemptions, vaccinating them against the disease of war.

What drives me up the wall is the oft-heard, dismissive comment about troop casualties from well-heeled Americans: “Well, they volunteered, didn’t they?” Under the universal draft in effect during Vietnam, far fewer were immune from service, even though the well-connected could still game the system to avoid serving. Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Joe Biden, for example, each managed to pile up five exemptions. This means, of course, that they brought zero military experience to the job; and this, in turn, may explain a whole lot—particularly given their bosses’ own lack of military experience. [...]

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2005FBI: Newsweek was right:

Turns out Newsweek was wrong about its source, right about the story.

The American Civil Liberties Union released the memo and a series of other FBI documents it obtained from the government under court order through the Freedom of Information Act.

"Personally, he has nothing against the United States. The guards in the detention facility do not treat him well. Their behavior is bad. About five months ago, the guards beat the detainees. They flushed a Koran in the toilet," the FBI agent wrote.

"The guards dance around when the detainees are trying to pray. The guards still do these things," the FBI agent wrote.

Darn it. Now who can the wingers blame for setbacks in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Tweet of the Day
Americans in past year killed by...
Marijuana overdose: 0
Snake bite: 1
Ebola: 2
Shark attack: 3
Roller coaster: 5
Police: 1,040

On today's "encore performance" Kagro in the Morning show, it's our 5/27/14 show. Greg Dworkin joined us to discuss the #YesAllWomen global phenomenon, open carry blowback in TX, the VA issue narrative vs. reality & how Burr stepped in it. Even as the tide turns on marriage equality, we're reminded that some think they can turn it on a dime, because "tradition." And the oldest House Member ever looks to win his primary. Dark money at work in AR-SEN. Twitter's buzzing about corporate social media. Boston's "fusion center" tracked Occupy while missing the marathon bombing. Boing Boing notes  Baquet spiked the biggest pre-Snowden NSA story. The prescience of Justice Brandeis.

High Impact PostsTop CommentsThe Evening Blues

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Less power for government, more power for guys like them, and the corporations they control.
Liberty. Power. Government. The way one frames the equation that connects these three words is at the heart of any political philosophy. The passage of a law in Wyoming got me thinking again about them. Wyoming just made it a criminal act to gather and submit to the government any kind of data—including photos—derived from privately owned land. In other words, if one documents pollution on private property and informs the authorities, one is breaking the law. This ridiculous statute is almost certainly unconstitutional, so rather than discuss it in detail I want to use it as a jumping off point to explore the anti-government philosophy—and in particular the motivations for it—that underlay the law.

Supporters of laws like this one love to talk broadly about liberty, property rights, and protecting the freedom of individuals from government overreach. All of these things are fine in the abstract. I also want to be free, to have liberty, to be protected from a tyrannical government taking my stuff. Who wouldn't?

However, this a simplistic, one-sided way of looking at things. Libertarianism—an ideology also embedded within its far more potent cousin, anti-government conservatism—is incredibly simplistic. Ayn Rand—whose fictional works strongly appeal to the anti-government right—is such a perfect example of this simplicity that we have this bit of wisdom from John Rogers:

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
Please follow me across the darkest depths of Mordor, i.e., beyond the fold.
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Lady with Cane - Reggio Emilia, Italy - 1991  Scan of an old slide turned to B&W. After 20 years the colors are almost gone anyway.
The Grand Old Party has a problem: It's old and it's getting older by the minute. Time, quite literally, is not on the GOP's side when it comes to its 2016 base voters. Daniel J. McGraw assessed the implications:
There’s been much written about how millennials are becoming a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, but there’s been much less attention paid to one of the biggest get-out-the-vote challenges for the Republican Party heading into the next presidential election: Hundreds of thousands of their traditional core supporters won’t be able to turn out to vote at all.

The party’s core is dying off by the day.

Since the average Republican is significantly older than the average Democrat, far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections. To make matters worse, the GOP is attracting fewer first-time voters. Unless the party is able to make inroads with new voters, or discover a fountain of youth, the GOP’s slow demographic slide will continue election to election. Actuarial tables make that part clear, but just how much of a problem for the GOP is this?

After comparing 2012 election polls with census mortality rates, McGraw concluded that about 2.75 million people who voted for Romney will have died by 2016, while closer to 2.3 million Obama voters will pass, putting Democrats at a 453,000-person advantage. That gap only widens when he adds in new millennial voters, assuming they vote approximately the way they have in the last couple election cycles.
In 2012, there were about 13 million in the 15-to-17 year-old demo who will be eligible to vote in 2016. The previous few presidential election cycles indicate that about 45 percent of these youngsters will actually vote, meaning that there will about 6 million new voters total. Exit polling indicates that age bracket has split about 65-35 in favor of the Dems in the past two elections. If that split holds true in 2016, Democrats will have picked up a two million vote advantage among first-time voters. These numbers combined with the voter death data puts Republicans at an almost 2.5 million voter disadvantage going into 2016.
Clearly, these are some rough guesstimates, but you get the gist.
Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson
A majority of poor people who can work (ie are not disabled, elderly, or students), do: 37 percent of those eligible for work are not working.
The contrast between hardworking Americans and shiftless, lazy, poor people is a favorite of Republicans as they try to cut safety net programs like food stamps or housing assistance. But—even if you believe that people who don't work should starve—it's a contrast based on a lie. In reality, a majority of people living in poverty who can work, do work:
The top bar shows that 35.2 percent of the poor between the ages of 18 and 64 in 2013 were considered not currently eligible to work because they are retired, going to school, or disabled. The other 64.8 percent of working-age poor are currently eligible to work. The second bar shows us that among these currently-eligible workers, 62.6 percent are working and 44.3 percent are working full-time. Of the working-age poor eligible for employment, 37.4 percent are not working—a share that includes the 3.3 million unemployed poor people currently seeking a job.
It's not a convenient story for Republicans, but it's reality. And it's a reality reinforced by Republican refusal to raise the minimum wage and pass other laws that would make work pay.
Misspelled sign at Tea Party rally
Loud, but not representative
This bears repeating. We've heard before that lawmakers tend to presume their own districts are much more conservative than they are, but it's the degree to which they're off that's amazing, and important.
The typical conservative legislator overestimates his or her district’s conservatism by a whopping 20 percentage points. Indeed, he or she believes the district is even more conservative than the most right-leaning district in the entire country.

Liberals also think their constituents’ views are more conservative than they really are, but are typically only off by about five percentage points.

So when Republican lawmakers get to Washington, they are operating under the presumption that their districts are full of insane people who are more conservative than any of the sorry bastards in anyone else's district. And thus a hundred Ted Cruzes get their wings. (On the Democratic side, they are still convinced their constituents are more conservative than they, which likely accounts for the depressing tendency of lawmakers to agree to conservative demands even when the actual polling of the district shows their voters don't want anything of the sort.)

Why does this happen? There's probably a few reasons, and they're probably testable. First, the far-right is unequivocally better at rallying their members to contact Congress and yell at them for not doing the most conservative possible thing. Our side has been trying to get better at that—hence the calls to sign petitions or call your congresscritters that popup on our site on a regular basis, as reminders that all of the grumbling in the world won't strengthen the congressional spine unless they hear it—but as anyone who has ever listened to CSPAN call-in segments can attest, conservatives are much louder than liberals and seem to have a lot more free time on their hands.

The second and probably equally significant reason is the steadfast conservatism of the pundit corps. The papers of record are filled with certified-important people demanding objectively far-right things, including in the unsigned op-eds of the papers of record themselves. For every "liberal" like Krugman there is a Krauthammer, a Kristol, a Brooks, and six others besides all demanding neoconservative interventionism, or conservative "austerity" focused almost entirely on the lower classes, or that we recognize that black Americans don't have it all that bad, they just lack character, and so on and so forth. This extends to the Sunday shows, and to cable news interviews; the same voices rotate in and out of the same chairs espousing the same positions, and that those positions are largely the voices of a wealthy, privileged and very-right-of-center American minority does not matter; it is declared to be what America thinks, even when the actual polls frequently show actual America doesn't think anything of the sort.

That's a thornier problem to deal with, because it's cooked into the current system. Our political class, our punditry class and our wider political media establishments operate by currying favor and fame within their own social sphere. That sphere does not include "constituents." At very best, it might include the thoughts of a cab driver here and there, but only when the important people find themselves needing to go somewhere and bereft of other story ideas at the exact same time.

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers a speech at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., Feb. 9, 2011. Mrs. Obama highlighted the impact parents and other supporters have had on fundamentally shifting the conversation on childhood obesity this year
It appears First Lady Michelle Obama acknowledging racism in a commencement speech is in fact one of the most harrowing things Michelle Obama has ever done. It was so wounding to National Review editor Rich Lowry that it took to the pages of Politico to write roughly a thousand words on her "whining." The short version is that Michelle Obama is successful, isn't she, so why is she even bringing these things up?
Yet, the first lady often strikes an aggrieved note when talking about her experience in America (her notorious comment in 2008 was that “for the first time in my adult lifetime I’m really proud of my country.”). Her gloss on the famous Wallis Simpson line is apparently that you can never be too rich, too thin or too easily offended.
These seems an odd mantra for any conservative pundit to take, given that Fox News journalism would not exist without the sure conviction that every curious happening anywhere in the nation is evidence of deeper plots against conservative white American men. In a world where mop sinks are interrogated for sharia ties and strip mall florists have been elevated to positions of the highest religious importance, having Michelle Obama relate a brief few times she felt uncomfortable by race-based slights or things that she felt to be race-base slights seems like it would, if anything, serve to endear her to her ever-fragile foes.

No such luck, of course, because nothing sets off the alarm bells of a distinguished editor of the National Review quite like somebody, somewhere suggesting racism still exists. The National Review was founded on the premise that racism never did exist, it's just that the black people need to be barred from our schools and restaurants because reasons, and to this day no member of the magazine has ever had the good sense to Shut The Hell Up when it comes to telling black Americans how good they have it nowadays. And so we have this, a thousandish words in Politico explaining once again that black Americans have things great and are far too thin-skinned, because the real victims these days are the buttery white men who read Rich Lowry columns.

Even though Michelle Obama didn’t mention the word, what she was discussing was “microaggressions.” It is the trendy term on college campuses for often inadvertent offensiveness, such as Barack Obama, once upon a time, being mistaken for a waiter when he wore a tuxedo at an event.

The idiocy of the concept of the microaggression is its underlying premise that only people who belong to certain select groups ever suffer indignities or humiliations, when they are, of course, endemic to the human condition.

Head below the fold for more on Lowry's outrage.
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'For $1 million Scott Walker's super PAC will give you an "exclusive" pin. Some special access, too.
The best thing about Scott Walker's three-star super PAC price guide is that they've made it look like a menu, making it crystal clear that you're buying something. Would you prefer one private dinner with an unnamed VIP Special Guest, wink wink, or two? Would you care for Members Only briefings, or are you in more of a conference call mood? And, of course, your pin. It goes without saying that purchasers of the $1,000,000 Scott Walker package will get a considerably better commemorative pin.

Thank goodness none of this smacks of corruption or the appearance of corruption.

Speaker of the House John Boehner takes his oath during the first day of the 113th Congress at the Capitol in Washington January 3, 2013.  Despite a rocky few weeks during the
Raise your hand if you found someone else's gun in your bathroom.
After incidents in which various members of the Capitol Police left their loaded guns in public bathrooms (one in House Speaker John Boehner's offices, but don't worry—a visiting kindergartner soon found it and thus staff was able to return it to the offending officer), the protectors of America's most important shouty people will be getting a refresher course on how to use the loo.
"We're now providing additional training for what to do when you have to go to the bathroom," Dine said Wednesday during a hearing about recent security lapses from the Capitol Police.
There's nothing unique about the Capitol Police here, as the heroes of GunFAIL can attest; armed officers leaving their weapons in bathrooms is endemic among all the various places we put guards these days. Guns and pooping are, for various physical reasons, incompatible.

For all the instances of this happening, though, you'd think there'd be more initial training on what to do. I'm not suggesting a weeklong how-to-bathroom lecture series, but there's got to be an internet course on this or something.

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