In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) met with Sonia Sotomayor yesterday, and walked away impressed. Just... not impressed enough to fully endorse her nomination. "I was pleased to meet with Judge Sotomayor today and I am impressed with what I have learned so far about her life, career and views," Nelson said. "We had a very good discussion about the role of the different branches of government, her history on the bench and previous cases, and her judicial philosophy."

I believe Judge Sotomayor understands how crucial it is to faithfully uphold the law and Constitution on the bench, and not bring an agenda to the bench seeking to make law. I also believe she is committed to respecting settled law and precedent.

The American people deserve a thorough and even-handed confirmation process in the weeks ahead. I look forward to learning more about Judge Sotomayor in that process. It would be unfair to prejudge the nominee, one way or the other, before she has a fair hearing before the Judiciary Committee, has the opportunity to tell her story to the American people and the Senate has time to consider her entire record.


In earlier statements, Nelson noted the historic nature of the Sotomayor nomination, but made sure to inveigh against activist judges at the same time.



In an order issued just a short while ago, the Minnesota election court has now commanded Norm Coleman to pay Al Franken $94,783.15 in itemized costs from the trial.

The Franken legal team had originally asked for $161,000, but the court rejected some of the claims as either not being sufficiently documented or not justified under the loser-pays provision of the election contest law. Bear in mind that even the $161,000 claim would only have made a small dent in the millions that have been spent in this process.

This was previously the subject of much back and forth in legal filings between the two parties, with Team Coleman arguing that no costs should be awarded until after the appeals are done. With this order now hanging over them, it will now be one more thing to litigate or otherwise sort through.

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.

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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.

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