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April 25, 2014

Many conservatives, including The Week's Matt Lewis, warned against making a folk hero out of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who has been illegally grazing his cattle on federal land and who engaged in an armed standoff with federal agents. Now that Bundy has been caught pining for the good old days of slavery — when "the negro" at least had chickens, gardens, and "something to do" — his sympathizers are beating a hasty retreat, including Sean Hannity of Fox News, writers at National Review, and Sen. Dean Heller (R) of Nevada.

Clearly, Cliven Bundy is not long for the spotlight. But it might not be so easy for conservatives to wash their hands of him. If you subtract the vile slavery talk, Bundy's worldview arguably shares fundamental traits with the Republican Party platform, epitomized by Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, which unapologetically seeks to gut the welfare state. Here's MSNBC's Adam Serwer on that point:

It's perfectly consistent to believe the federal government owns too much land and also believe Bundy's remarks are offensive. Nevertheless, Bundy's central point — that black poverty is less a legacy of 200 years of slavery and institutionalized racism than the welfare state — is a notion conservative speakers have espoused and conservative audiences have applauded for years. [MSNBC]

And as Josh Barro at The New York Times argues, it's precisely this anti-government position that has led the Republican Party into a demographic death spiral. So while conservatives can exorcize Bundy with as much speed as they can muster, his ghost may well linger. Ryu Spaeth

11:55 a.m. ET

If you saw Deadpool this weekend, you're not alone. Marvel's X-Men spinoff has brought in an estimated $135 million at the box office since its Thursday night release, The Wall Street Journal reports.

This was by no means a guaranteed hit — Fox budgeted the Ryan Reynolds flick at just $58 million, which is less than a third of what most other superhero movies cost.

The previous President's Day weekend box office record belonged to Fifty Shades of Grey, at $93 million in 2015. By weekend's end, Deadpool will likely surpass $150 million. Julie Kliegman

11:41 a.m. ET

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) vowed Sunday on ABC's This Week to filibuster any nominee President Obama puts forth to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court bench.

"This is a 5-4 court — the next election needs to be a referendum on the court," Cruz said. "People need to decide."

Other Republicans in the Senate have made similar calls, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Meanwhile, Obama said Saturday he'll name a nominee soon, and Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are urging their colleagues to approve him or her before Obama leaves office.

"I don't think the American people want a court that will strip our religious liberties," Cruz said. "I don't think the American people want a court that will mandate unlimited abortions on demand, partial birth abortion with taxpayer funding and no parental notification, and I don't think the American people want a court that will write the Second Amendment out of the Constitution."

Watch Cruz's interview here. Julie Kliegman

11:03 a.m. ET

Saturday night's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina may have been the rowdiest yet, and not just on the part of the candidates. Here are some of the people and things the crowd deemed worthy of booing:

Facts: When Ted Cruz falsely claimed no Supreme Court justices have been appointed during election years in the last 80 years, moderator John Dickerson pointed out Anthony Kennedy. "I just want to get the facts straight for the audience," Dickerson said.

Donald Trump: In another tiff with Bush, Trump criticized his brother, former President George W. Bush, saying "How did he keep us safe? The World Trade Center came down."

Donald Trump, again: In a tiff with Bush (surprise, surprise), Trump said he was wrong about the billionaire's close ties to Russia.

Donald Trump, for a change: In the same exchange, Trump responded to the booing by claiming the jeers came from lobbyists supporting Bush.

Viewers were understandably a little perplexed by all of the booing.

If you missed out, here's a nice supercut of the most memorable sound from Saturday night. Julie Kliegman

10:01 a.m. ET

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine topped the Orlando Magic's Aaron Gordon in Saturday's Verizon Slam Dunk Contest. It's the second year in a row LaVine has won the All-Star weekend event, a feat only three other players in history — including Michael Jordan — have managed.

"There was some stuff that's never been done before. I don't want to get into the greats — Mike, they're in a different breath," LaVine said. "If you really look at it as a whole, we were doing dunks that professional dunkers take four or five tries to do, and we were doing it on the first try. It was ridiculous, man."

In the second tiebreaker, LaVine sealed his victory with a between-the-legs dunk from the free-throw line. Watch below. Julie Kliegman

9:25 a.m. ET

After years of delay, Twitter feuds, and technical difficulties, Kanye West has finally bestowed upon us his seventh album, The Life of Pablo. You can stream it through Tidal, buy it from his website, or just watch a couple of his Saturday Night Live performances below. Here's "Highlights":

And this is "Ultralight Beam." Enjoy. Julie Kliegman

8:07 a.m. ET
Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

In his first full day in Mexico, Pope Francis spoke directly to the issues facing the nation Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"I beg that you not underestimate the moral and antisocial challenge which the drug trade represents for Mexican society as a whole, as well as for the church," he told church leaders at a Mexico City cathedral.

The pope also delivered a speech to politicians alongside President Enrique Peña Nieto. Francis stressed the need to care about the common good, not just those who are privileged.

"Each time we seek the path of privileges or benefits for a few, to the detriment of the good of all, the life of society becomes a fertile soil for corruption, drug trade, exclusion of different cultures, violence, and also human trafficking, kidnapping, and death, bringing suffering and slowing down development," Francis said. Julie Kliegman

7:39 a.m. ET
Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images

In 2015, 3,545 civilians were killed due to war in Afghanistan, while 7,457 were injured, the United Nations said in a report released Sunday, The Associated Press reports.

That's a 4-percent decrease in deaths, but a 9-percent increase in injuries. The majority of the violence can be attributed to civilians caught in the ongoing crossfire between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Julie Kliegman

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