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Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders waves to the crowd of supporters after speaking at a campaign kickoff rally in Burlington, Vermont May 26, 2015.    REUTERS/Brian Snyder
He's already won.
Believe it or not (I didn't at first), Hillary's primary poll numbers are improving as of late:
poll trendlines in Democratic primary
In addition to Clinton's uptick, Elizabeth Warren's and Bernie Sanders' numbers are also up. How can that be? Well, since mid-February, Joe Biden is down five and undecided/other is down four.

Clinton's uptick shows that Sanders' surge (from 3 percent to 10 percent since mid-February) isn't coming at her expense. And it's not coming from Warren either, at least not yet (although we should assume that he'll grab a big chunk of her support). And while it's impossible to tell for sure, we can probably guess that Clinton is picking up Biden people and Sanders is picking up undecided/other. So if we extrapolate out (again, an imperfect method), we could guess that Clinton could end up in the 70s and Sanders in the mid-20s.

I've long maintained that Sanders' ceiling is 25-30 percent. These latest poll numbers suggest that I'm on the right track, but there's another factor that I hadn't considered until Sanders' announcement speech yesterday.

In short, Clinton has fired up Latinos with her robust call for strong executive action on immigration, while she has also been clear in her support of the Black Lives Matter movement (and condemning her own husband's policies on crime during his presidency). Yet Sanders' announcement speech yesterday mentioned neither of those seminal current issues.

That's not to imply that Sanders is bad or uncommitted on those issues. He's been perfect on them. He even took part in the 1963 March on Washington. But given that 40 percent of Democrats are people of color, it was noteworthy seeing this (rhetorical) ommission. While Clinton has been solidifying his support among communities of color, Sanders seems to have completely ignored them in his coming out party. And that was weird and unexpected.

Now Sanders staked out a strong left position on economic issues, as we assumed he would. It's the reason we love him. While Clinton's uncomfortable silence on TPP is an improvement over her past support for such trade deals, it's still not as convincing as Sanders' strong and strident opposition. But at this point, there is very little RHETORICAL difference between the two candidates, and that makes Sanders' ability to move beyond the crowd Chris Hayes identifies above very difficult. The Hillary of eight years ago wouldn't be caught dead tweeting "I agree with Bernie." While the Bernie of today doesn't seem to realize that the modern Democratic Party doesn't look like Vermont.

More below the fold.

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U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) waves to the crowd after speaking during the Freedom Summit in Greenville, South Carolina May 9, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Keane - RTX1C9RH
Ted Cruz
There is just no way to square this circle. None whatsoever. After witnessing the serious destruction that major flooding just caused in his home state of Texas, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz made an iron-clad promise to his constituents:
"Today, Texans are hurting. They're hurting here in San Marcos. They're hurting in Wimberley. They're hurting in Houston. They're hurting across the state.

"Democrats and Republicans in the congressional delegation will stand as one in support of the federal government meeting its statutory obligations to provide the relief to help the Texans who are hurting."

It would be an eminently reasonable assurance to make, if only Ted Cruz were a reasonable man. But he's not. We all know he's not. When Hurricane Sandy wreaked even greater damage across the Northeast in 2012, Cruz told his suffering fellow citizens to get bent:
"This bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington—an addiction to spending money we do not have. The United States Senate should not be in the business of exploiting victims of natural disasters to fund pork projects that further expand our debt."
Cruz voted against Sandy aid, of course, but now that it's his own backyard that's under water—and not some wretched blue states half a country away—he's all for federal disaster assistance. There's absolutely no way to reconcile these two stances, even if you were to violate the laws of physics.

It just means that Cruz, in addition to being a dystopian extremist, is also that worst sort of political creature: a brazen, two-faced hypocrite who has no compunction about spouting off blatant contradictions whenever they suit his political purposes. And as he tours the nation running for president, it's on us to expose this pernicious brand of deceit.

(Hat-tip: Talking Points Memo)

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts attends the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington April 18, 2008.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst   (UNITED STATES)
Chief Justice John Roberts has a lot to think about these days.
It's been clear for months that if the Supreme Court were to declare that Obamacare subsidies going to people who got their plans on the federal exchange were illegal, those affected would be almost entirely in the red states. That means 22 Republican senators running for re-election in 2016 would have to answer for their constituents losing health insurance. Conventional wisdom says "ouch." But The New York Times says, not so fast, because it could work the other way if the court upholds the law.
Should the Obama administration win, relieved Democrats would crow that Obama's foremost domestic achievement had stood unscathed. But some say they'd have lost a potentially powerful cudgel for the 2016 campaigns: Being able to accuse Republicans of ending the assistance and disrupting health coverage for many.

If Democrats lose in court, "It completely reverses the issue and puts us back on offense on health care," said Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., one of his party's chief message crafters.

Let's hope that if Democrats win in court they celebrate the fact that 8 million people won't become uninsured instead of wishing they had lost so they had a potent 2016 issue. I'm talking to you, Steve Israel.

The reality is, if the court does strike down subsidies the pain will be felt by millions of people, and that will be very bad news for Republicans. Worse news for 8 million people, though. Which some Republicans recognize, or at least say they do, and so are fumbling toward some kind of plan to do something about it. Anyway, that's what Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and "other Republicans" told the NYT. They say they are "moving toward a joint House-Senate proposal to provide assistance to people losing subsidies. It is also likely to weaken some of the law's requirements, perhaps eliminating required coverage for individuals or giving states more flexibility to decide the scope of required medical coverage, Republicans say." That's a plan, if it should ever actually get enough Republican support to pass (which it won't in the House), that would be vetoed by President Obama. In fact, it's veto-bait on purpose, so Republicans could turn around and blame Obama for the whole mess.

The loss of subsidies would be universally bad, starting with the Supreme Court which would look even more politically hackish than it already does. Republicans would bear the brunt of the anger, but Democrats wouldn't be immune—people would just be pissed at "Washington." But millions of people would lose insurance, and the ripple effect in the individual insurance market would hurt millions more as premiums increase for everyone.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers of the Nebraska Legislature. Key proponent of repealing the death penalty.
State Sen. Ernie Chambers finally won his 38-year battle to get Nebraska's death penalty repealed.
With Wednesday's override vote in its one-house legislature, Nebraska became the nation's 19th state without a death penalty. The last time a conservative state abolished capital punishment was 42 years ago when North Dakota made the move. But since then eight states plus the District of Columbia have repealed their death penalty statutes. Two states—Connecticut and New Mexico—still have inmates on death row because the repeals were not made retroactive.

The supposedly nonpartisan Republican-dominated legislature had repealed the death penalty last week in a 32-14 vote, but the Republican governor vetoed it. Joe Duggan and Todd Cooper report:

The high-stakes vote to override the veto of Legislative Bill 268 was 30-19. It requires at least 30 of 49 senators to overturn a gubernatorial veto.

The outcome represented a defeat for first-term Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, who made an all-out effort to peel away some of 18 conservative senators who helped pass the repeal bill. [...]

And it represents a crowning achievement for Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, who has made repeal of the death penalty his top priority during his four-decade political career.

Republicans who voted for repeal did so for religious or fiscal reasons.

Nebraska has not executed anyone since 1997 when it electocuted Robert E. Williams, convicted of murdering three women. Ricketts was eager to change that and had recently ordered acquisition of the three drugs Nebraska had decided to use in the future for lethal injections of people sentenced to death.

There is more below the orange tangled web we weave.

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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (L) and Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stand together during a ceremony to present Golf legend Jack Nicklaus with the Congressional Gold Medal “in recognition of his many contributions to the game of golf and his
The wheels fell of Mitch McConnell's claims of a new, effective Senate in the early hours of Saturday morning when a majority of senators refused to be bullied into supporting his plan for a simple Patriot Act extension. That's left Democrats and Republicans alike wondering what in the hell McConnell was thinking in his entire strategy.
On Wednesday afternoon, senior Republicans said there's no clear way out of the mess even as they were generally hopeful about a resolution by the time lawmakers return to Washington. Privately, though, some of McConnell's allies believe the only escape hatch would be to let the [House-passed] USA Freedom Act pass the Senate. […]

"Sen. McConnell genuinely wants the Senate to work. And right now it clearly isn't," Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), one of a handful of Democrats to meet one-on-one with McConnell this year, said Wednesday. "I genuinely do not understand Majority Leader McConnell's strategy and views on this issue. He has departed from Speaker [John] Boehner, many in his own caucus and my caucus."

The episode has sparked a round of recriminations between House and Senate Republicans—and raised questions about what McConnell, regarded as a seasoned tactician by nearly everyone on Capitol Hill, was thinking.

The man McConnell replaced at the head of the Senate, who never had a strategy blow up as catastrophically as this one, diagnoses McConnell's problem.
"He defiantly said we're going to do all this. [But] things happen," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in an interview last week about McConnell's plans to finish the surveillance law before adjourning for recess. "You just never know; you can't be defiant."
As of now, it's not clear whether McConnell has learned that or not. Lobbyists working the issue tell Bloomberg news negotiations in the Senate have stalled. What's more, a House Republican leadership aide told Roll Call on Tuesday that there were no negotiations happening between House and Senate leadership to come to agreement. As of now, House leadership is insisting the only option is for the Senate to pass their bill.

So they're coming back for a rare Sunday session, needing to pass something by 8:00 p.m., the administration says, to preserve the three provisions of the Patriot Act that are expiring: dragnet surveillance; a program to track "lone wolf" terrorists not affiliated with known organizations; and roving wiretaps of individuals rather than devices, to track people using multiple devices. Right now it looks like McConnell might still be relying on his already failed strategy—a hope that panic over the real, hard expiration of these programs will scare lawmakers enough into giving him his way. So far, that doesn't seem to be working.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) holds a news conference after he announced his candidacy for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, on Capitol Hill in Washington April 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  - RTX1B0A5
More popular than the jokers in the GOP side.
Here is the primary support of select presidential candidates in recent polling:

Quinnipiac 4/25-5/4 (Iowa):
Bernie Sanders: 15

Scott Walker: 21
Rand Paul: 13
Marco Rubio: 13
Ted Cruz: 12
Mike Huckabee: 11
Ben Carson: 7
Jeb Bush: 5

Bloomberg 5/2-6 (New Hampshire):
Bernie Sanders: 18

Rand Paul: 12
Scott Walker: 12
Jeb Bush: 11
Marco Rubio: 11
Donald Trump: 8
Chris Christie: 7

Fox News 5/9-12 (national):
Elizabeth Warren: 13
Bernie Sanders: 6
Joe Biden: 6

Jeb Bush: 13
Ben Carson: 13
Scott Walker: 11
Mike Huckabee: 10
Marco Rubio: 9
Rand Paul: 7
Chris Christie: 6
Ted Cruz: 6
Donald Trump: 4
Rick Perry: 2
Rick Santorum: 2

Hillary Clinton breaks 60 percent in all those polls, so this has nothing to do with the viability of Sanders' primary chances. Rather, it shows that while Sanders is treated by the media as a circus freakshow, his level of support within his party generally exceeds those of the supposed "serious" Republicans in theirs, especially in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Fact is, Sanders is a serious and important voice on the American left, something I gather that even Hillary's most fervent supporters would enthusiastically agree with. And as much as some want to repeat the "he's a socialist!" claptrap, the reality is that his politics—on an issue-to-issue basis—are well within the American mainstream. He's no Dennis Kucinich.

The media might chuckle at his insurgent bid, but he has far more heft in our surprisingly-unified party than most of the jokers fighting for supremacy in their fractured GOP.

Reposted from Comics by Barbara Morrill

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Former New York Gov. George Pataki
George Pataki
They're coming thick and fast now. Just hours after Rick Santorum announced his presidential run, he was followed by George Pataki. Yes, the former New York governor who's been out of office for nearly a decade. (The same length of time as Jeb Bush, to be sure, but 1) Pataki is not a Bush and 2) New York is not a swing state.)

Pataki announced with a slickly produced video in which he almost does a Lou Reed kind of thing, speaking rapidly and a bit rhythmically over unusually obtrusive background music. In the video (which you can see below the fold), we learn a few important things about Pataki. He ties his own shoelaces with great authority, but prefers to be seen reading a newspaper while riding shotgun rather than driving a car. His big applause line at New Hampshire campaign events is "God bless you all, and lunch is on me." And he plans to run as a man who led New York through the aftermath of 9/11, because that worked so incredibly well for Rudy Giuliani in 2008.

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Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by Jeff Singer
Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) questions witnesses at the Senate Finance Committee in Washington May 21, 2013.  A Senate panel will try on Tuesday to pry more details out of current and former officials of the Internal Revenue Service about the agency's target
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey
Leading Off:

PA-Sen: In the last few months, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has looked like the favorite in light-blue Pennsylvania. Two polls gave him a strong job approval rating, and national Democrats aren't happy to see their 2010 nominee, ex-Rep. Joe Sestak, making another run. However, a new survey from Public Policy Polling paints a very different picture of next year's Keystone State contest and finds that while Toomey starts with a lead, he's far from secure in a race that could decide control of the Senate.

44-35 vs. ex-Rep. Chris Carney

44-35 vs. state Sen. Vincent Hughes

44-34 vs. Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski

46-41 vs. ex-Gov. Ed Rendell

42-38 vs. 2010 nominee Joe Sestak

44-33 vs. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams

Against all comers, Toomey takes between 42 and 46 percent of the vote, a bit far from the 50 percent mark he'd like to be at. PPP finds Toomey's approval rating underwater at 30-37, not a great place for an incumbent in an unfriendly state to be. A March Quinnipiac poll and May survey from Harper Polling gave Toomey a 49-24 and 54-32 approval rating respectively, and there's no easy explanation for why PPP finds something so different.

Head below the fold for more.

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Daily Kos Radio logo
It looks like the week is a wash for new episodes, since tomorrow was going to be another planned absence. So in a way, I guess this was a relatively good week to run into technical problems.

Just to keep you company, here's a rerun of the May 30, 2014 show:

Greg Dworkin sampled the morning's headlines. The House actually passed a gun background check funding amendment. Further UCSB fallout and gun safety roundup. Honest conservative snipe hunt. McConnell called out for ACA buffoonery. No, the VA is not an Obamacare preview. Microsoft billionaire Steve Ballmer looks to buy the Clippers from the most-hated man in America. More NSA & national security state discussion, based on Eben Moglen's "Privacy under attack."

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

Daily Kos Radio's Kagro in the Morning show podcasts are now available through iTunes.


Listen to Stitcher
Help support the show through Stitcher's revenue sharing program. Be one of 5,000 "active listeners" per month, and, well, they send us money. All you need to do, believe it or not, is listen to 30 seconds of a show, once in a month. Seriously! Choose any one of the shows at this link, listen to 30 seconds' worth, and you're on board!

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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The Things You Find Between the Sofa Cushions

Please rise and place your hand over your heart as Billy in Portland Maine, age 7 circa 1972, leads us in the Pledge:


I [Up arrow] pledge a legence to the
flag of the United States of
amiarica and to
the repuBlic for witches
stand on n nation under
god idavisible with
iberty and justis for all.
Thank you. Please be seated. Let us eat paste.

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


Which of these folks born in May would you rather do lunch with?

17%648 votes
24%880 votes
4%165 votes
3%113 votes
3%140 votes
2%87 votes
2%90 votes
8%314 votes
1%58 votes
15%577 votes
11%408 votes
4%170 votes

| 3651 votes | Vote | Results

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Conde Nast TagID: cncartoons031763.jpg/Photo via Conde Nast
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul had some harsh words Wednesday for Republicans who have blamed the rise of Islamic extremism in Iraq and Syria on American disengagement with the Middle East.

In an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Paul was asked about the criticism he's received from GOP hawks like South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Arizona Sen. John McCain, who have argued that America's failure to arm moderate rebel groups in the Syrian civil war created space for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to grow.

"I would say it's exactly the opposite," Paul said. "ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately, and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS. These hawks also wanted to bomb [Syrian dictator Bashar] Assad, which would have made ISIS's job even easier."

Newly-minted presidential candidate Rick Santorum today slammed fellow 2016 hopeful Rand Paul, who said he blames Republican hawks for the rise of terrorist group ISIS.

“I think that is just fundamentally a misunderstanding of the nature of the enemy we face,” Santorum said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.

“ISIS didn't come about because of ... the arms that America left behind. ISIS came about because they hate everything that we believe in and we stand for,” Santorum added. “I think the idea that we accept now that this tripe from the left that it’s our fault that ISIS exists -- go back to the thousand-year history of Muslim expansionism, and look at some of the horrible things that were done to spread radical Islam. That is not something that America had anything to do with.”

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, Sen. Paul asserted GOP hawks “created” ISIS.

“ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately,” he said. “They created these people.”

Walker Defends Mandatory Ultrasounds
More politics, policy and Rand bashing below the fold.
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