In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) just appeared on the Ed Schultz show on MSNBC, and he was asked about Michele Bachmann's allegation that the "Flying Imams" -- the six Muslim men who were removed from a plane at the Minneapolis airport in late November 2006 -- were suspicious characters who had in fact been in town for Ellison's victory party.

(The relevance here is that Ellison is the first Muslim elected to Congress. And the men were in town for a conference held a week and a half after Ellison's election. And they were released after it was found they posed no threat.)

Schultz billed Bachmann's allegation as part of his regular "Psycho Talk" feature, and asked Ellison if it was true. "This is not true," said Ellison. "I think it could even be called 'Psycho Talk.'"

Just before Ellison's appearance, his press secretary Rick Jauert told me that the Congressman had tried to call Bachmann to discuss this. She wasn't available, so he left her a note. "He's just not gonna engage her," said Jauert.

When Michele Bachmann talks...somebody obviously likes it. It turns out that Bachmann had a very good first-quarter fundraising: She raised about $310,000, and has $224,000 in cash-on-hand.

Now keep in mind that the Upper Midwest has fairly cheap media rates, and the first full quarter after a presidential campaign typically sees low levels of political contributions across the board. Against that backdrop, this is simply marvelous.

At first glance it looks like most of it came from Minnesota, but she also received donations from all across the country: New York, Arizona, Maryland, Texas, Virginia, California, Colorado, New Jersey and elsewhere.

So just remember: Michele Bachmann genuinely speaks for an awful lot of people -- enough to fund her campaigns handsomely, and enough people geographically located in this district to elect her.

(Via Minnesota Independent.)

A few minutes ago, I spoke with Catherine Frazier, spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Noting that Perry hadn't spoken of imminent secession, I asked her what sort of scenario the governor envisioned when he spoke at the Austin Tea Party, and what the legal ramifications of such a move would be. She sought to assure me that Perry does not want Texas to secede, and directed me to this blog post.

This is interesting that this has really kind of bubbled up, to uh... I refer people back to my statement, and I gotta a charge out of it. I was kinda thinking that, maybe the same people who hadn't been reading the constitution right were reading that article and they got the wrong impression about what I said.

Clearly, I stated that we have a great union. And Texas is part of a great union. I see no reason for that to change. I think that may not be the exact quote, but that is, in essence what I said.

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The latest score in the NY-20 special election, as absentee ballots are being counted, has Democratic candidate Scott Murphy ahead of Republican candidate Jim Tedisco by 178 votes, up from a 167-vote lead this morning.

The counties are either completely done or almost done with counting up the votes, and this stage of the process could be finished up tomorrow.

The next step will be on Monday, when review and potential counting begins for the 1,200 absentee-ballot envelopes that have been challenged, and thus kept out of the count for now. A key ruling yesterday by Judge James V. Brands makes it likely that the vast majority of these challenges will be overruled, and the votes will be counted.

From the available evidence it looks like the Tedisco camp challenged more ballots than Murphy's people did -- but not all counties have divulged the breakdown, most notably Saratoga County with its 740 total challenges. If this general assumption were to turn out to be correct, then the most probable outcome would be that Murphy will pick up additional net votes.

Norm Coleman strongly denies the allegation that his lawsuit in the Minnesota Senate race is being pursued for the purposes of delaying the Democrats from getting a 59th Senate seat.

"In spite of what some say, that somehow this is an effort to delay something -- no," Coleman told the Star Tribune. "There are very legitimate, important constitutional questions regarding whether or not people's vote should count."

Norm also said he wasn't concerned that keeping this fight going is damaging his future political prospects: "I say this humbly, I don't spend 30 seconds worrying about my political future."

In other news, Coleman's home in St. Paul was egged on Tuesday night.

Via Matt Yglesias, we find that yesterday didn't bring out the best in Texas Governor Rick Perry alone. Here we see Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) telling tea party attendees to bring armed revolution:

It's about our founding fathers who in 1773 threw a little party called the Boston tea party. And fought against tyranny and oppressive taxes, does that sound familiar? We're continuing that revolution right here in Austin, TX today. Thomas Jefferson once said that the tree of liberty will be fed with the blood of tyrants and patriots. You are the patriots.

And then there's Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in Frederick, MD, wishing (about 4:45 into the video) that President Obama was on hand to "see that you're all out here in revolt," adding that "he needs to see your signs"--signs which, of course, ran the gamut between anti-tax slogans through confederate flags in to outright racism.

Earlier today, I noted that, at the Austin tea party yesterday, Texas Governor Rick Perry suggested that his state might secede from the union under circumstances unclear.

I've put in a call to his office to see if we can't get a better explanation of the scenario he's contemplating. But in the meantime, Texas State Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) is saying, in no uncertain terms, that the governor crossed the line.

"There are some issues that simply should not be legitimated in any way, shape or form, and secession is one of them," said Ellis. "By not rejecting out of hand the possibility of secession, Governor Perry is taking a step down a very dangerous and divisive path encouraged by the fringe of Texas politics."

I'll post the full statement below the fold. We're trying also to get responses from Texas Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, but, perhaps not coincidentally, the phone lines for both offices are completely tied up.

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Michele Bachmann just can't turn down an opportunity to attack a Democratic politician -- even if the "opportunity" is a lie. During an interview with right-wing talk radio host Lee Rodgers, Bachmann declared that the "Flying Imams" -- six Muslim men who were removed from an airplane at the Minneapolis airport in 2006 -- had been in Minnesota for the victory party of Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Bachmann's line about the imams can be found at the 4:30 mark in this YouTube, which also contains a wider-ranging discussion of such issues as President Obama apologizing for America, and the fierce threat of the loss of American sovereignty:

"The imams were actually attending Congressman Keith Ellison's victory celebration, when he won as a member of Congress," said Bachmann.

For the record, the imams were in fact attending a conference that was held on November 17-19, 2006. Keith Ellison's victory party was presumably held on November 7, 2006, the night of the 2006 mid-term elections that brought both himself and Bachmann to Congress.

(Via Minnesota Independent and Dump Bachmann.)

Earlier today, Brent Bozell, founder of the conservative Media Research Center, appeared on Fox to lambaste liberal and mainstream media journalists (particularly on MSNBC) for telling "oral sex jokes" about the Tea Bag Protest movements. Unfortunately for anchor Megyn Kelly, though, once he was done lashing his tongue, hers slipped. Watch:

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As they struggle to find political footing, rump Republicans, (even the formerly mainstream among them) are beginning to dabble in right wing extremism. That's not hyperbole. Indeed, you need look no further than Texas Gov Rick Perry, who seems to have gotten a bit carried away yesterday at a Tea Party Protest in Austin. "We've got a great union," Perry said, "There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it."

But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."

This comes less than a week after Perry appeared with sponsors and supporters of a Texas House resolution affirming the state's claim of sovereignty under the 10th Amendment. "I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state," Gov. Perry said.

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