Shepard Smith has spent a good chunk of his time on Fox News today saying how today's shooting at the Holocaust Museum vindicates the Department of Homeland Security's report on the threat of right-wing extremists -- that birthers and other such conspiracy theorists who vilify President Obama have to stop.
At one point, he focused his ire on a particular group of right-wing extremists -- the Fox News viewers who write e-mails to the channel:
"I read a lot of e-mail around here," said Smith. "And the e-mail to me has become more and more frightening. It's not a new thing. it's been happening over the past few months. It's been happening, you know, to some degree, since the election process went along."
He then proceeded to read an example of the e-mails, which he collectively described as being "out there in a scary place."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.