In it, but not of it. TPM DC

The oral arguments just finished at the Minnesota Supreme Court, in Norm Coleman's appeal of his defeat at the election trial, with Coleman's lead attorney Joe Friedberg arguing that serious constitutional issues mean the trial court's legal conclusions should be overturned and more previously-rejected absentee ballots from Coleman's selected list put into the count. Franken's side obviously argued differently. For this post, let's focus on the Coleman side.

It's always a tricky business to read clues into the questions that judges ask the lawyers during these proceedings -- despite some basic assumptions about how this works, judges can surprise you. But if we just go by the basic assumptions, it didn't look good for Coleman, with the judges asking pointed questions of Friedberg that at certain points amounted to ridicule of him for putting on a shoddy case.

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Remember how Tom Tancredo went on CNN last week and called Sonia Sotomayor a racist, accusing her falsely of being a member of a "Latino KKK"? Well, if racism so offends him, how does he explain this?

On July 7, 2007, at approximately 7:15 p.m. at Jefferson and M Street, Northwest, in Washington, D.C., defendant was walking down the street making offensive remarks when he encountered the complainant, Ms. [REDACTED], who is African-American. The defendant uttered, "Nigger," as he delivered a karate chop to Ms. [REDACTED]'s head.

That defendant is named Marcus Epstein--a former Tancredo speechwriter who now works as executive director of Tancredo's political action committee.

Epstein pled guilty to the charge, but, according to Dave Weigel of The Washington Independent, he'll remain on the job "until he leaves for law school in the fall."

The Republican National Committee has this new Web video on the General Motors bankruptcy deal, condemning it as an example of the Obama Administration taking over the private sector:

RNC Chairman Michael Steele included this statement:

"No matter how much the President spins GM's bankruptcy as good for the economy, it is nothing more than another government grab of a private company and another handout to the union cronies who helped bankroll his presidential campaign. President Obama will now own 60 percent of GM, and his union buddies will own almost 20 percent. And what do the taxpayers get? They'll get stuck with up to a $50 billion tab for the taxpayer dollars Obama is using to pay for his takeover of GM. Americans shouldn't be fooled. This is the real 'change' President Obama has in mind for America - government ownership of our economy financed with irresponsible and reckless government spending and debt and no jobs to show for it. This is a very sad day for the autoworkers and their families whose financial well-being will be directly affected by this clear act of an overreaching UAW and overbearing government."

The Minnesota Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments at 10 a.m. ET today in the Minnesota Senate election contest, hearing Norm Coleman's appeal of his defeat at the trial a month and a half ago. Check out our good friends at The Uptake for a video feed. So what can we expect? And when will Minnesota actually get a second Senator?

The first thing to remember is that we won't get a decision from the judges today, and probably not for several weeks. Instead, both sides will make their oral arguments, after having already filed written briefs over the last few weeks. The big thing to look out for will be how the five Justices of the court -- the court has seven members, but two have recused themselves because they sat on the state canvassing board that oversaw the recount -- react to the attorneys' arguments and what sort of questions they pitch.

The Coleman side has charged that variation among local elected officials in accepting or rejecting certain absentee ballots -- namely ballots from their own list, and largely from counties that Coleman carried overall -- amount to a fundamental violation of the Constitution under the 14th amendment. They have argued for the court to adopt a more lax standard for admitting ballots in, as opposed to strict adherence to the letter of the law on a ballot's requirements and qualifications. A consequence of this is that it seemingly implies they'll try to take this to federal court if they lose at the state level.

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The labor consortium Change To Win is targeting Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) with a direct mail campaign. The flyer credits her with helping assure that the stimulus bill survived in the Senate and tells recipients to "ask Senator Lincoln to do the right thing" and vote for the Employee Free Choice Act.

David Kinkade of The Arkansas Project got his hands on a copy.

Labor groups have been targeting Lincoln pretty consistently since she came out against the original language of EFCA earlier this year. Last week, workers held a 24 hour vigil at Lincoln's office in Little Rock. And AFL-CIO's director of organizing Stewart Acuff says Lincoln has received 14,000 handwritten letters from workers and small business owners across Arkansas.

GM Declares Bankruptcy; Government To Have Majority Share General Motors has filed for bankruptcy as part of a government-led reorganization. The federal government will provide an additional $30 billion in aid -- and will have a majority share in the company of 60%. The plan is for GM to emerge from the bankruptcy within 60-90 days with a smaller work force, fewer plants and a reduced number of dealerships.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will be speaking at 11:55 a.m. ET, on the General Motors bankruptcy deal. At 1:20 p.m. ET, he will visit the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. At 4:45 p.m. ET, he will meet with the National Economic Council staff.

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Cornyn Not Ruling Out Filibuster Against Sotomayor Appearing on ABC's This Week, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) would not rule out a filibuster against the Sotomayor nomination. "I'm not willing to judge one way or the other, George [Stephanopoulos]," said Cornyn, "because frankly, we need to not prejudge, not pre-confirm, and to give Judge Sotomayor the fair hearing that Miguel Estrada, and, indeed, Clarence Thomas were denied by our friends on the other side of the aisle."

Rove: Bush Appreciates Cheney's "Forthright Defense" Karl Rove told the Politico that former President George W. Bush -- who has publicly said he won't criticize President Obama -- privately appreciates the role that former Vice President Dick Cheney has taken on. "I know President Bush and Vice President Cheney talk with regularity," said Rove. "I know the former president appreciates Dick's forthright defense of the administration's polices. And I know Vice President Cheney understands the special role that the former president occupies."

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Obama Praises Sotomayor -- And Dismisses Criticism -- In YouTube Address In this week's Presidential YouTube Address, President Obama discussed his nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, praising her qualifications -- and rebutting the critics:

"There are, of course, some in Washington who are attempting to draw old battle lines and playing the usual political games, pulling a few comments out of context to paint a distorted picture of Judge Sotomayor's record," said Obama. "But I am confident that these efforts will fail; because Judge Sotomayor's seventeen-year record on the bench - hundreds of judicial decisions that every American can read for him or herself - speak far louder than any attack; her record makes clear that she is fair, unbiased, and dedicated to the rule of law."

RNC Address: Daniels Blasts "Imperialistic" Cap And Trade Proposal In this weekend's Republican address, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels blasted President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi for supporting cap and trade:

"It's become clear that the Pelosi bill has little to do with a cooler planet and everything to do with raising money for the out-of-control federal spending now underway in Washington," said Daniels. "Please excuse us Midwesterners for feeling a bit like the targets of an imperialistic policy, devised in places like California, New York, and Massachusetts for their benefit, at our expense."

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Appearing on Hardball today, former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) was asked whether he agrees with Rush Limbaugh that the Obama Administration hates white people. His answer: "I don't know."

"What do I -- I have no idea if they hate white people or not. But I will tell you this," he said, as David Shuster attempted unsuccessfully to interrupt him. "I am sick of having people suggest that because I am Caucasian, I cannot -- and that's the suggestion here -- is that if you are white, Caucasian, male, you cannot comment on this sort of thing."

In an excerpt of a yet-to-air interview with NBC, President Barack Obama says his Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor probably should have chosen different words to convey the sentiment she was trying to convey in her now-famous 2001 speech.

Conservatives have latched on to this sentence--"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life"--to suggest that Sotomayor is unfit to serve on the Court. Some have even gone so far as to call her a racist. Unsurprisingly, a fuller context of her remarks, which appear below the fold, tell a significantly different story.

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