In it, but not of it. TPM DC

The latest state numbers from the NY-20 special election show Democratic candidate Scott Murphy leading Republican Jim Tedisco by 86 votes, a margin of 0.054%, as the progression of the count and the legal developments are making a Murphy win seem more and more likely.

The big news here is that this is after the initial absentee numbers have come in from the Tedisco stronghold of Saratoga County, with Tedisco only picking up a net 163 votes, out of 1,181 -- seemingly bad news for him, considering he needed something more substantial here. On the other hand, it turns out there are 740 challenged ballots in this county, and it's not clear right now what the actual makeup of these are, in terms of how many were challenged by each campaign.

Combined with other county absentee results, Murphy is still ahead by 86 votes -- and that's with more ballots to come in the pro-Murphy Columbia and Warren counties, where his lead is likely to extend further.

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If an April 7 memo by the Department of Homeland Security is to be believed, the ranks of right wing radical and white supremacist groups--and the dangers they pose--may be growing.

And, after years of turning a blind eye to (or outright supporting) Bush-era curtailments of civil liberties, conservatives have predictably ignored reacted with great hostility to the news...before stopping to take stock of the situation. The report on right wing groups, it turns out, was prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch of DHS' Homeland Environment and Threat Analysis Division. That Division falls under the purview (PDF) of the Under Secretary For Intelligence & Analysis--or, in this case, the Acting Under Secretary For Intelligence & Analysis Roger Mackin, who was appointed on September 10, 2008 by noted left wing partisan George W. Bush.

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Another local paper in Minnesota that had endorsed Norm Coleman last year is now calling for him to concede: The Worthington Daily Globe, which ran their editorial yesterday, following in the footsteps of last week's editorial from the Albert Lea Tribune.

The Daily Globe quite openly accuses the Republicans of keeping up this fight just to delay the Democrats from getting the seat, to Minnesota's detriment:

It's becoming increasingly clearer that Coleman and fellow Republicans -- desperate to keep the Democrats from strengthening their power -- are pressing onward primarily for political reasons. Meanwhile, Minnesota continues to only have one U.S. senator, despite a prolonged process that has shown Franken to be the winner on two occasions.

We, like the Albert Lea Tribune, endorsed Norm Coleman over Franken. We also share the same opinion that Coleman, for the benefit of the state and its citizens, should concede. Norm Coleman and his attorneys claim they want to ensure no Minnesota voter gets left behind. Instead, they're trying their best to leave Minnesota behind.

She probably won't wake conservatives up to the men behind the curtain, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi understands a thing or two about the Tea Party Protests.

An interviewer at Fox TV in San Francisco said "thousands of Americans...are having a tax and tea party today saying that we're taxing and spending our way into oblivion."

Pelosi responded:

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As Norm Coleman goes through with appealing the decision of the election contest court, which declared that Al Franken won the election and Coleman failed to prove otherwise, he can now count on the help of a group of D.C. lobbyists to fund the costs, Greg Sargent reports.

"We will raise as much as is necessary," said Dirk Van Dongen, who is president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, and a leading member of the "Team Coleman" group. "We'll keep raising money as Norm needs it. We continue to be active in raising resources for Norm to carry out this fight to the end."

Van Dongen said that to date, this group of lobbyists already raised "well over a million dollars" for the Senate campaign and the post-election events, and will keep on going.

Van Dongen rejected the accusation that this whole fight is only being done to bottle up a 59th Senate seat for the Democrats -- sort of. "That's a side benefit," said Van Dongen. "But this is all about us doing everything we can to be sure that Norm has had a fair election and to get him back in his Senate seat. We'd be doing exactly the same thing if the Republicans were in the majority."

It's probably fair to assume that back in 1773, the word "teabagging" didn't make everyone--from immature bloggers to perfectly mature mainstream media types--giggle like school children. But even still the would-be founding fathers took the appropriate precautionary measures, and dumped tons of loose tea (not tons of tea bags) into the Boston Harbor.

Unfortunately, it took today's tea party protesters almost two months to get the memo. I mean, an actual memo:

The term "teabagging" has strong sexual connotations. Be wary of anyone with a camera asking you if you are a "teabagger" or if you enjoy "teabagging" or similar leading questions - they are trying to make a fool of you.

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A new survey of Minnesota by Public Policy Polling (D), finds a clear verdict on the part of the state's voters: They want the disputed Senate race to be over, for Norm Coleman to concede defeat, and Al Franken to be sworn in. The poll was conducted yesterday and today, in the aftermath of the election court's ruling that Franken won the race.

By a 63%-37% margin, voters say that Coleman should concede the race, rather than continue to appeal. After being reminded by the pollster that Minnesota currently has only one Senator, they say by a 59%-41% margin that Franken should be seated immediately, rather than allow the seat to stay vacant. And by a 59%-41% margin, they say that Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty should sign a certificate of election.

And this question here produces a close result: "Some people say that Republicans are funding the Coleman legal suit to keep the Minnesota seat vacant and slow down the Obama agenda. Do you agree or disagree with that statement?" The numbers are 48% agree, 52% disagree.

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The Hill reports that a lot of Republicans are realizing the same thing many of us did a while ago -- or perhaps they realized it, too, and are only now just saying it: That Norm Coleman's recount operation was a mess.

"The buzz in GOP circles is that if Sen. Coleman's team and party strategists were to have launched a full-blown PR campaign as the recount was unfolding, they would have had a better environment prior to the legal proceedings," a Republican operative said, adding that "They allowed the legal proceedings to define the media environment."

A GOP strategist said: "A lot of noise has to be made immediately, and it has to be sustained," adding, "Where the heck has [Pawlenty] been?"

For the record: Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) briefly did wade into the spin game, but quickly faded into the background. At this point, he's hedging on whether he'd grant an election certificate should the state Supreme Court rule for Franken.

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We've spent a lot of time reporting on the emerging defense budget debate, and the rhetoric around it for some time, but eventually that will all give way to Congressional wheeling and dealing, and leaders will emerge on all sides of the issue.

The House member who's most dedicated himself to advancing Defense Secretary Robert Gates' cause is Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).

Sestak is a retired Rear Admiral, the highest ranking military officer ever to serve in Congress, and a member of the Armed Services Committee. I spoke with him yesterday in detail about how the fight is shaping up, and why he takes the position he does.

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Last night, I interviewed Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), who's positioning himself to be a leader on military issues in the House of Representatives. Sestak is a retired Navy rear admiral, and the highest ranking officer ever to serve in Congress. We spoke broadly about military issues--particularly about the Obama administration's proposed Pentagon overhaul--but we also touched on the coming Don't Ask, Don't Tell fight.

I asked Sestak for his position on the issue, and his take on how the administration--which seems very much to have put a repeal on the back burner--has handled it. Here's what he said:

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