In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Back in early April, the Department of Homeland Security released a report warning that the ranks of right wing extremist groups might swell. There was nothing especially controversial about the memo, which was put together under the supervision of a Bush appointee. It was the sort of threat assessment certain government agencies are supposed to provide; and DHS had prepared a similar memo about the threat of left wing extremists just three months beforehand.

But that didn't stop conservatives and Republicans from turning on the outrage. The story drove cable news coverage for days, and inspired elected officials like Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) to stand before Congress and denounce the report.

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Josh already noted this at the Mother Ship this morning, but Politico ran today with a story about the Chamber of Commerce's plans to raise $100 million as part of a campaign to "defend the free market system."

Privately, labor sources describe the move as the Chamber's opening salvo in the committee's campaign to disrupt the balance of power in the Senate--which they view as hostile to business--in the 2010 election. And there's more than just messaging to that--the Chamber's president made that pretty clear.

A public education ad buy defending the free enterprise system is in the works, as well as an issue advocacy program tied to the 2010 midterm elections.

"We're going to hold politicians accountable as we defend and advance economic freedom," [Chamber of Commerce President Tom] Donohue said.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appeared on Fox News this afternoon to discuss Sonia Sotomayor and the time frame for her confirmation hearings.

Two things to take away from his appearance. First, he said Republicans don't intend to obstruct her nomination. Second, he said Republicans have enough clout to at least delay her ultimate confirmation. Time will tell how Republicans actually respond, but just because Republicans probably won't filibuster Sotomayor doesn't mean they won't drag the process along, raising money and attacking the nominee along the way.

This morning on MSNBC, Chuck Todd poured some cold water on the suggestion that Republicans might boycott Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings. Or at least he tried.

Todd may be right, but it's worth keeping in mind that Republicans have already boycotted the confirmation hearing of one Obama judicial nominee, and much, much more.

David Hamilton was nominated to serve on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in March. Despite a record of moderation, Republicans boycotted his first confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, forcing a second hearing weeks later. After that they delayed a vote to report him out of committee and finally they voted in unison against moving his nomination to the full Senate. And, for good measure, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) is threatening to filibuster him.

Obviously there are important differences between the Appeals Courts and the Supreme Court, but it's probably not worth discounting the lengths to which Senate Republicans will go to drag out a confirmation process if they feel in any way slighted.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) appeared on Sean Hannity's radio show, where she responded to the infamous "Hate-F___" article in Playboy -- which has since been removed from the magazine's site -- in which author Guy Cimbalo listed prominent conservative women he despised but found sexually attractive.

Bachmann was on the list, along with Megyn Kelly, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Dana Perino and others.

"I think it's just disgusting and shocking. I can hardly believe it," said Bachmann. "I mean, I'm a mother of five kids, I'm a foster mom to 23 kids." She added: "They're the side that's supposed to be all about peace and tolerance, and 'we believe in rational discord.' And to be put on a list like that I think is just unthinkable."

Hannity transitioned out of this subject. "Well first of all, you have become literally the poster child to be attacked by the left. Have you noticed?" he said.

"I -- yes I have!" Bachmann responded, laughing. "It hasn't escaped me, that's for sure. I take that as a badge of honor. Apparently I must be doing something right."

Mitt Romney's political organization, the Free and Strong America PAC, is offering supporters a new chance to take an expenses-paid trip to Boston and join Mitt himself in his family's seats at Fenway Park for a Red Sox Game. But first there are two important questions: What does a free and strong America mean to you? And can you donate 50 bucks for the cause?

Here's Mitt's pitch of the contest:

Anyone can enter the contest by writing a 250-words or less essay giving their own personal answer to that question -- and by donating $50 to the Free and Strong America PAC. The author of the best essay will get to go to Boston with a guest, while the other top-five essays will be featured on the site, and the authors will receive baseballs personally autographed by Mitt himself.

The national Democratic and Republican Congressional campaign committees have done similar contests, offering trips to Washington to meet with top politicians. But they only required the purchase of a raffle ticket through a donation -- there were no merit-based essay portions.

A new Quinnipiac poll from New Jersey finds Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine trailing his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, by a 50%-40% margin among likely voters.

This is the first Quinnipiac poll since Christie won the Republican primary last week. This poll indicates that Christie might not have actually gained much of a bounce: Among registered voters he leads Corzine by 46%-37%, compared to a nearly identical 45%-38% margin among registered voters in late May.

From the pollster's analysis: "Voters say 55 - 37 percent that Corzine does not deserve to be reelected. Democrats say four more years 66 - 25 percent, while he gets an 84 - 9 percent thumbs down from Republicans and a 64 - 28 percent boot from independent voters."

The big question for Corzine is whether he can successfully reassert a common pattern in deep-blue New Jersey, where disliked Dems can frequently come from behind in the home stretch by attacking the Republican rival's conservatism and ties to the national GOP. If he ends up being unable to do that, this could very well become a Republican pickup.

I noted last night that Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) are threatening to grind Senate business to a halt--and even filibuster the war spending bill--if the amendment they authored (which would allow the White House to suppress detainee abuse photos) doesn't become law post haste.

Whatever you think about the photos, or the wars, or the emergency supplemental bills, though, you've got to marvel at Joe Lieberman circa 2007:

We in this chamber have a responsibility to make certain that-no matter what our disagreements and differences here in Washington-our men and women in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan are not caught in the political crossfire.

Mitchell: Obama Administration Committed To Palestinian State George Mitchell, the White House Special Envoy on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, said today after meeting with Palestinian officials that Washington is committed to the creation of a Palestinian state, saying that Obama considered it "the only viable resolution to this conflict...for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states." He also said the Administration will be seeking "prompt resumption and early conclusion" of peace talks.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will have lunch with Vice President Biden at 12 p.m. ET. At 4 p.m. ET, Obama will meet with Sec. of the Treasury Tim Geithner. At 4:45 p.m. ET, Obama and Biden will meet with with Sec. of State Hillary Clinton.

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Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds has won tonight's Democratic primary for governor, and in a landslide, too -- positively thrashing the competition of former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, a colorful character who was until recently the frontrunner, and former state Del. Brian Moran.

With 81% of precincts reporting, Deeds has 49%, McAuliffe 27%, and Moran 24%. Terry McAuliffe, the man who had the backing of the Clintons and had famously appeared on Morning Joe after the Puerto Rico primary, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and waving a bottle of rum to celebrate Hillary's win in that territory, has failed to break through in electoral politics.

As I pointed out this morning, McAuliffe occupied the frontrunner's position for quite a while, thanks to a sizable financial advantage over his two rivals. But Moran soon began attacking McAuliffe relentlessly on both his political and private-sector résumés, which had two effects. First, McAuliffe got dragged down -- and second Moran was dragged down for going negative. This allowed Deeds, who hails from the less Democratic Southwest region of the state and had been the third man for much of the race, to jump to the front of the pack as a positive choice for voters.

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