MN-Sen: Oral Arguments To Begin June 1st

As Eric Kleefeld says, by legal standards, the schedule laid out by the Minnesota Supreme Court today for the MN-Sen appeal is expedited; by political standards on the other hand...

The court adopted the proposed briefing timeline from the Coleman campaign, allowing them more time to formulate their arguments: Coleman's brief is to be submitted by next Thursday, April 30; Team Franken will submit its brief by May 11, and a reply brief from Coleman is to be submitted by May 15.

On top of that, oral arguments have been scheduled for June 1 -- a month and a week from today.

Team Franken had called for a much quicker schedule, on the grounds that greater speed was needed in order to seat a second U.S. Senator from Minnesota, and that Coleman had already had plenty of time to come up with his arguments. But the court didn't go for it.

Coleman's plan to deprive Democrats of their 59th vote in the Senate for as long as possible sure seems to be working. Of course, now, thanks to the PCCC and DFA, there's a downside for Republicans to having this extend as long as it is: the longer Senator-elect Franken's seating is delayed, the more money the PCCC will raise to elect progressives.

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NY-20: Tedisco (Campaign) Death Watch part deux: Concession Tomorrow?

Speak of the devil. Looks like a concession could come as early as tomorrow.

A finish line could be in sight in the race for the 20th Congressional District. With the numbers not looking good for Republican Jim Tedisco, sources tell Capital News 9 that Tedisco could concede to Democrat Scott Murphy as soon as Friday afternoon.

There are less than 1,000 paper ballots unopened, and Democrat Scott Murphy is leading with nearly 400 votes.

County election board workers were in Albany Thursday morning, reviewing a group of 200 votes here. Official numbers will be reported later. On Saturday, 600 ballots were counted in Saratoga County. Those numbers have not been reported yet. All of this leaves about 800 ballots to be opened.

Sounds like the only way Tedisco does not concede tomorrow is if the ballots shift toward him in a really dramatic way in the next 15 hours or so. Doubtful.

You watching, Norm?

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NY-20: Tedisco (Campaign) Death Watch

The latest numbers out of NY-20 show Democrat Scott Murphy's lead growing steadily. Tedisco was slightly up after election night, but as precincts corrected their counts and absentee ballots have come in, Murphy took the lead on April 10 and has never lost it. Now, after the latest tally of absentee ballots, Murphy is up by 401 votes, a net gain of 6 since yesterday.

Eric Kleefeld has the latest:

Some more absentee ballots were counted in the Murphy strongholds of Columbia, Essex, Warren and Washington Counties -- plus the Tedisco stronghold of Saratoga County. And while Tedisco did net 38 votes from the newest ballots in Saratoga, it was more than outstripped by the other places.

Even before this latest development two former chairs of the NRCC have publicly given up on Tedisco. First Tom Davis:

..."we've lost the New York special election.  It's gone."

And then Tom Reynolds:

"For the Democrats, bragging rights are what they are and they get momentum for winning a very tough seat for them," Reynolds said. "And the Republicans will try to minimize it, and when all is said and done, the special will have little or no impact for what will happen in 2010." [...]

"I would say to Jim Tedisco, `You came so close and 2010 is a general election and would be different. If you were up to this race, and want to run, you have earned the right to be a candidate for the party's nomination," Reynolds said.

This latest development should bring more calls for Tedisco to give it up but certainly the Republican is showing no signs of doing so. In fact, Tedisco seems prepared to pull a full Coleman:

Even so, the Tedisco campaign had been sending signals last week that they planned to take legal action to determine the legality of a number of absentee ballots challenged on residency grounds, where there were questions of whether voters were permanent residents of the district.

The judge has asked attorneys for both candidates to prepare briefs on the issue, and an official in the Tedisco campaign told The Washington Times on Friday that "it could be a significant numbers of voters."

Update [2009-4-23 18:22:36 by Todd Beeton]:Speaking of the full Coleman, check out who else got swept up in Tedisco's frivolous ballot challenges: Sam Seder.

Sam posted a message on Twitter yesterday: "NY20th race Tedisco challenged my absentee ballot. 4 days before the election I was jury foreman for a trial in NY20th. Challenge Fail." [...]

Sam was none too impressed when I told him that the Tedisco campaign alleged that he wasn't a resident of the district. "Jerks," he said. "I mean, I could tell you I've attended far more Livingston town meetings than Jim Tedisco has."

He added: "I just think it's ironic that this guy doesn't live in the 20th, and he's challenging my residency."

Classic.

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The T Word

Yesterday Sean Hannity committed on live TV to being waterboarded for charity. The exchange was an odd one and I give Charles Grodin credit for taking the conversation there but more notable I think than Hannity's tough guy acceptance of a challenge he'll never go through with is Hannity's rhetorical gymnastics:

GRODIN: You're for torture.

HANNITY: I am for enhanced interrogation.

GRODIN: You don't believe it's torture. Have you ever been waterboarded?

HANNITY: No, but Ollie North has.

GRODIN: Would you consent to be waterboarded? We can waterboard you?

HANNITY: Sure.

GRODIN: Are you busy on Sunday?

HANNITY: I'll do it for charity. I'll let you do it. I'll do it for the troops' families.

You see, it's not "torture," it's "enhanced interrogation." That's the right's party line. Don't use the "T" word! Which is why it was so surprising that the minority leader in the House, John Boehner, went off script at a press conference earlier today.

"Last week, they released these memos outlining torture techniques. That was clearly a political decision and ignored the advice of their Director of National Intelligence and their CIA director," Boehner said at a press conference in the Capitol.

The techniques discussed include waterboarding, slamming detainees into walls, and depriving them of sleep for up to 11 days.

D'oh! When asked about this unintentional slip of truth, a Boehner spokesman replaced the "T"-word with the "L"-word:

...Boehner spokesman Michael Steel writes, "It is clear from the context that Boehner was simply using liberals' verbiage to describe these interrogation techniques. The United States does not torture."

Well, no, not anymore we don't.

The fact that Boehner is on the defensive about torture is the latest sign that the right is losing the message war on torture. Another: even self-described Democratic moderate Claire McCaskill has put the impeachment of Jay Bybee on the table and today signaled an openness in congress to investigations into the use of torture.

Update [2009-4-23 15:8:59 by Todd Beeton]:Oh yeah, and still another sign: Shepherd Smith went off on torture as being un-American right there on FoxNews. How long you give him?

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AP: Right Track Overtakes Wrong Track

Just last month we were seeing signs of increased optimism both in terms of the economy and the direction of the country but I doubt even the most optimistic estimates had President Obama turning around the nation's mood to a net positive right track level in his first hundred days.

...the percentage of Americans saying the country is headed in the right direction rose to 48 percent, up from 40 percent in February. Forty-four percent say the nation is on the wrong track.

Not since January 2004, shortly after the capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, has an AP survey found more "right direction" than "wrong direction" respondents. The burst of optimism didn't last long in 2004.

And it doesn't happen much.

Other than that blip five years ago, pessimism has trumped optimism in media polls since shortly after the invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003.

The "right track" number topped "wrong direction" for a few months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to non-AP media polls, and for several months late in the Clinton administration.

Just prior to the election, the right track number was polling at 17%.

Not surprisingly, most of the turnaround we're seeing is due to enthusiasm for Obama among Democrats.

Of those who say the country is on the right track in the AP-GfK poll, 73 percent are Democrats, 17 percent are independents and 10 percent are Republicans.

Which inevitably leads to a "polarizing" narrative, and the AP doesn't let us down. Here they are on Obama's approval rating.

The AP-GfK poll suggests that 64 percent of the public approves of Obama's job performance, down just slightly from 67 percent in February. President George W. Bush's approval ratings hovered in the high 50s after his first 100 days in office.

But Obama has become a polarizing figure, with just 24 percent of Republicans approving of his performance -- down from 33 percent in February. Obama campaigned on a promise to end the party-first mind-set that breeds gridlock in Washington.

Ahh, yes, the obligatory "the polarization of Obama's popularity is proof that he's a failure" AP line. Whatever. Honestly, the fact that Obama remains extremely popular despite very little support from Republicans and in spite of his best conciliatory efforts is fine with me; all it does is make it even clearer that there is no upside to ceding any ground to them.

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Earth Day Nighttime Open Thread

Wow, a White House that takes Earth Day seriously, where it's not a punchline. Some welcome change indeed. I've been catching up on my Earth Day reading and found the White House's Earth Day liveblog. Cool.

There you'll find this video from Van Jones, Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the Council on Environmental Quality, walking us through what the future holds on the green jobs front. You'll remember Jones if you were at last year's Netroots Nation. He gave an inspiring address and it's no wonder that the White House plucked him up.

Also at the liveblog is a video from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announcing the investment of $750 million in stimulus funds going to national parks. Take particular note of the language he uses to talk about our parks:

This is not only an investment in our economy, it's an investment in our heritage, an investment in telling the story of America to future generations by preserving our awe inspiring landscapes, our diverse history and our rich culture.

Amen.

And there's also an update on the White House's "People's Garden" from the USDA:

"The People's Garden is designed to provide a sampling of USDA's efforts throughout the world as well as teach others how to nurture, maintain and protect a healthy landscape. If practiced, these garden concepts can be the general public's, government's, or business' contribution to providing healthy food, air, and water for people and communities... Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan officially kicked off the Earth Day event at the Whitten Building with Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Brings Plenty who performed a traditional song and planted seeds at a ceremonial Three Sisters Garden to celebrate American Indians' contribution to American agriculture. Merrigan led volunteers and USDA staffers in planting vegetables, herbs and flowers to complete the first phase of The People's Garden."

Any other notable Earth Day goings on?

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Last Throes

Dick Cheney just won't go away. He's like the tail of a dead fish that keeps twitching even after the head's been cut off. Fox News has released more excerpts from their interview with Cheney and it's pretty much exactly what you'd expect.

President Barack Obama's expansion of the federal government into the financial sector is likely to have "devastating" effects in the long term, former Vice President Dick Cheney said in his latest salvo directed at the new White House administration. [...]

"I worry very much that we're in a situation now where there doesn't appear to be any limitation whatsoever in terms of the spending commitments that this administration wants to make," he said. "Vast expansion in terms of the deficit, but it also says a lot about what they intend for the role of government in this society."

Of course, it was Dick Cheney who famously said "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter." Apparently now they do.

As Steve Benen points out, this is pure gold for Team Obama. "Keep talking, Dick."

I get the sense Cheney has no idea how happy he's making officials in the West Wing. The White House would love nothing more than a political fight that boils down to Obama's approach vs. the Bush/Cheney/Rove approach. The former VP keeps making this easier. It's precisely why so many Republicans on the Hill would prefer to see Cheney quietly go away -- if he's the face of the Republican Party right now, the GOP is in a lot of trouble.

This is especially true when it comes to a debate over the economy. Cheney believes Obama's policies are likely to be "devastating"? It's like manna from heaven for Obama's team.

In fact, Cheney is playing directly into the DNC's hands:

"We're going to come back to this repeatedly," said DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse. "It's a growing theme: Party of no, party of no new ideas, and now party of no new leaders."

The effort is meant to make it more difficult for the GOP to turn the page to an era of new leaders like Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and a host of rising stars in both chambers.

Strategists privately stress the GOP needs to move past old faces, and one veteran Republican said the attacks could be effective.

You can watch the DNC's new web below:

The fact is that when Hillary Clinton says of Cheney "I don't consider him a particularly reliable source," she's speaking for a majority of Americans. He simply has no credibility. Even Chris Matthews invoked Darth Vader when referring to Cheney's return to the spotlight as an Obama critic.

So, keep it up, Dick. Please.

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NJ-Gov: Corzine Running Behind Republican Frontrunner

Via TPM, there are two new polls out that show Jon Corzine giving David Paterson a run for his money in the popularity department.

From Strategic Vision (R): Christie 47%, Corzine 36%, with a ±3% margin of error. Corzine's approval is at only 36%, to 54% disapproval.

And from Quinnipiac: Christie 45%, Corzine 38%, with a ±4.6% margin of error. Corzine's approval rating here is 37%-54%. From the pollster's analysis: "By any measure, Corzine is losing the support of key independent voters. More importantly, he is not generating the level of love from fellow Democrats he needs to offset his big negatives among Republicans and independents."

We've seen New Jersey flirt with voting Republican recently but the extent of Corzine's disapproval here is rather stunning. Corzine's plight speaks to the larger difficulty of being a governor right now. "It's the economy, stupid" whether the governor had anything to do with the state's downturn or not. As the economy improves, one suspects so will Corzine's numbers, although this is a 2009 election so Corzine is going to need it to improve quickly. Another factor working in Corzine's favor that should not be underestimated: his unlimited warchest.

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DFA/Netroots Nation Launch '09 Scholarship Competition

It's that time of year again. From August 13-16, the 4th annual Netroots Nation conference will take place in Pittsburgh and once again, NN is teaming up with DFA to offer scholarships to send at least 30 deserving folks to the event.

As the conference grows each year, Democracy for America members have consistently been there helping to make the Netroots Nation conventions a continued success. As with many organizations, DFA contributes speakers, promotes attendance, and donates funds.

Last year, our members urged us to take our support a step further and find a way to help activists who couldn't afford to make it on their own still get to this great event. We started with a plan to send 9 scholarship winners. But the response and generosity went far beyond our expectations and in the end, 30 activists won a scholarship to Netroots Nation.

This year, we're starting with a plan to send 30 scholarship winners.

Click HERE to apply for a scholarship. Winners will get one Netroots Nation pass as well as lodging for one for the duration of the conference. The process by which winners are selected is as follows:

We will announce scholarship recipients in three rounds, with ten recipients per round. The people providing input on the selection process include the Executive Director of DFA, the Executive Director of Netroots Nation, former scholarship recipients, prominent bloggers... and you! Each applicant has a public profile and individuals can voice their support by nominating an applicant directly on their page.

The applicant with the most nominations at the end of each round will automatically win one of the ten scholarships guaranteed. Nominations reset at the start of each round, but applications and their accompanying profiles will remain active.

You can help 30 people attend Netroots Nation in Pittsburgh by contributing to the scholarship fund HERE.

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Joe Lieberman Up To His Old Tricks

Joe Lieberman has been staying out of the spotlight lately but don't be fooled, he's still the same ole Joe. Here's an exchange he had with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News (via Glenn Thrush):

VAN SUSTEREN: Again, the whole business about the torture memos being released by the Obama administration -- good idea or bad idea?

LIEBERMAN: I thought release of the memos was a bad idea.

The President of the United States as the commander in chief has the right to decide what kinds of tactics he wants to use with detainees who we believe are associated with terrorism and what kinds he does not want to use. Congress legislated on that. I was a cosponsor with Senator McCain of the anti-torture provisions we put into law.

But once you start to take internal memos that have been designated as top secret --

VAN SUSTEREN: Even if it's -- first of all, is waterboarding torture?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I take a minority position on this. Most people think it's definitely torture. The truth is, it has mostly a psychological impact on people. It's a terrible thing to do...

Why do I think it was a mistake to give it out? I wasn't necessary. It just helps our enemies. It doesn't really help us.

Again, the president can decide what tactics he wants the CIA or the military to use on people we capture, suspects of terrorism. But to let our enemies know what we are going to do or not do, that's not a good idea.

Obviously this is simply a warmed over Dick Cheney/Fox News talking point, one that Rahm Emanuel took down on This Week on Sunday:

"Let me say this, one of the reasons the president was willing to let this information out was that much of the information was already out. So if they're saying that you've basically exposed something, it's been written . Go get the New York Review of books. It's there. So the notion that somehow we're exposing something -- it's already out. In fact President Bush  let a lot, a lot of this information out. So the notion that somehow this is all of a sudden a game-changer, doesn't take cognizance that its already in the system and in the public domain. Therefore, it's not new. So the notion that that is something we've broken, it's already been there. Number two, it's why al Qaeda, it's one of the key tools that al Qaeda has used for recruitment. There has been net cost to America. By changing the way American is seen in the world, which means banning this technique and practice, we have actually stopped them and then prevented them from using it as a rallying cry."

David Sirota was quite good on CNN as well yesterday defending the release of the torture memos:

About a month ago, I think it was Jake Tapper who asked on Twitter if the liberal blogosphere would still push for Lieberman's defeat now that he's being a good soldier in the Senate. It was an absurd question to even ask. Of course Joe will be target numero uno in '12. We don't easily forget or forgive and Joe's re-emergence here reminds us why.

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