In it, but not of it. TPM DC

A new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll suggests that two key right-wing talking points against Sonia Sotomayor, which they've worked hard to get into the collective public mind, have in fact...totally failed.

"Based on what you know or have heard about Sonia Sotomayor do you think she is a racist?" The numbers: Yes 8%, No 61%. Even among Republicans, the number is only Yes 19%, No 28%.

"Do you think empathy is an important characteristic for a Supreme Court Justice to possess or not?" The numbers: Yes 52%, No 29%.

Newt Gingrich spoke last night to the Connecticut Republican Party, and made it clear just how much he trusts Dick Cheney over President Obama.

"One was chief of staff, secretary of defense and a vice president who concentrated on national security," Gingrich said to the assembled Republicans. "The other read a couple of left-wing books on the CIA."

It's an interesting description of the current President of the United States, who was also previously a U.S. Senator -- making him sound like the lefty kids you see on college campuses, carrying around copies of Noam Chomsky.

Interestingly, there was a dog that didn't bark: Gingrich didn't mention Sonia Sotomayor, against whom he's kind of, sort of, not really backed away from calling a racist.

Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) spoke to a friendly conservative video-blogger yesterday at the at the Conservative Heartland Leadership Conference in St. Louis, and said Republicans need to more effectively organize around the newer modes of communication -- like the "ethernet":

"In the end, we need to compete, as I've said before, we need to compete in each and every kind of forum," said Coleman. "And whether it's on the ground traditionally, or today it's in -- it's in the ethernet. It's in the -- you know, it's online. It's in the blogs, it's Twitter, it's Facebook, and the next iteration."

Oh well. At least he's trying.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who is moving to further lock up support among the Democratic base and solidify her momentum against any potential primary challengers, has just announced the endorsements of Rev. Al Sharpton and Rep. Gregory Meeks.

In the campaign's press release, Sharpton said that Gillibrand is committed to working on issues facing minority communities, and to working with President Obama -- the man who has also made one known phone call to clear the field for her.

"I was impressed that the day after being selected to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate, she came down to the House of Justice in Harlem to hear the real concerns of the voiceless," Sharpton said. "I am proud to endorse her today because I believe she will be a strong, passionate advocate for children and families. I believe she is committed to working with President Barack Obama to create jobs and improve education for minorities in New York City and across the state."

Republicans tend to object whenever Democrats insist on calling the GOP "the party of 'no'," but then someone like Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) will go and say something like this and suddenly we're reminded that their grounds for objection are pretty thin.

The EPA has threatened to regulate this through the Clean Air Act. That isn't going to work in my opinion because we can stall that until we get a new president--that shouldn't be a problem. ... But while the House will pass a bill ... in the Senate, they're not going to be able to pass it.

Inhofe was speaking at the Heartland Institute's Third International Conference on Climate Change, where he was a welcomed guest. In that comfortable environment, he let loose a little. "As I've told Barbara Boxer, 'Get over it. Get a Life. You've lost. We've won," Inhofe said to laughter and applause.

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Speaking to reporters yesterday at the Conservative Heartland Leadership Conference in St. Louis, Norm Coleman did not rule out a run for Governor of Minnesota in 2010, now that incumbent Republican Tim Pawlenty has announced he isn't running again. But he also seemed to leave the door open to further litigation over his former Senate seat, in the wake of reports that he was ready to throw in the towel after the state Supreme Court presumably rules against him.

"I'm still waiting to hear from the Supreme Court," said Coleman, when asked about a gubernatorial run. "Remember I just gave a speech about being focused? I'm a very focused guy, and the focus is on keeping my Senate seat."

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Mark down Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) as one of the more outspoken critics of President Obama's speech yesterday in Egypt -- in fact, he told The Oklahoman the speech was "un-American" for calling the Iraq conflict a "war of choice."

Inhofe also blasted Obama for implying that torture had taken place at Guantanamo Bay: "There has never been a documented case of torture at Guantanamo."

"I just don't know whose side he's on," Inhofe added.

(Via Think Progress)

Obama Calls For Increased Efforts For Two-State Solution In a press conference earlier today, alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Obama called for the international community to increase its efforts towards a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian disputes. "I think the moment is now for us to act on what we all know to be the truth," said Obama, "which is each side is going to have to make some difficult compromises."

Obama's Day In Germany President Obama arrived at Dresden Castle at 2:55 a.m. ET (8:55 a.m. local time), and held a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at 3 a.m. ET, then meeting with an expanded German delegation at 3:15 a.m. ET. At 4:10 a.m. ET, Obama and Merkel held a press conference, and then toured Church of Our Lady at 4:45 a.m. ET. Obama will tour Buchenwald Concentration Camp at 9:15 a.m. ET, and will then make a statement to the press at 10:05 a.m. ET. He will visit Landstuhl Regional Medical Center at 11:50 a.m. ET. He will depart from Ramstein Air base at 2:30 p.m. ET, en route to Paris, France.

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House Blue Dogs today released a statement of principles (PDF) for what they call "responsible" health reform, specifically addressing what they view as acceptable terms of the public option.

Buried at the bottom is this caveat. "The availability of a public option would occur only as a fallback and in the absence of adequate competition and cost containment. Fundamental insurance market reforms and increased choice...should improve access and contribute to lower costs. However, should the private plans fail to meet specific availability and cost targets, a public option would be triggered and be allowed to compete on a level playing field subject to the conditions outlined above."

The trigger idea is one that's has purchase among conservative Democrats in the Senate, too. It's also an ideas that liberal Democrats call a non-starter. The gist is that the government would give insurance companies a few years to get with the program by meeting heretofore unknown cost-saving and coverage goals, and to only create a public option in the event that they miss their deadline. But triggers are often unsuccessful policy tools, and since liberals are basically running the health care show in the House, there's almost no chance that this will be written into their bill, an early version of which should be released in the next couple weeks.

It should be noted that the Blue Dogs aren't monolithic on this point. Already, Patrick Murphy (D-PA) and Mike Michaud (D-ME) are distancing themselves from this statement--and several others have signaled in the past that they support a public option at the outset. But at the very least this demonstrates that there's still a considerable appetite among conservative Democrats for weakening or imperiling the public option.

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) has a bit of a joke for you. "The Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade legislation is just another disguise and it's high time that we call it what it really is: a Wacky-Marxist Tax-and-Cap bill that will suffocate America's small businesses, ultimately strangling America's respiratory system."

Get it?!

The really funny part is that Broun is a doctor (as in, M.D.) so he should know that suffocation results from strangling and not the other way around. Also, that America doesn't have a respiratory system, per se.

In his press release, Broun hearkens back to the good old days when Republicans called Democrats socialists, and limited their critique of cap-and-trade legislation to the false claim--based on an intentional misreading of an M.I.T. study--that climate legislation will cost the average household thousands of dollars.

"Representative Paul Broun, M.D. (GA-10) exposed the truth behind the Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade energy tax and appropriately renamed it the Wacky-Marxist Tax and Cap bill as it will increase energy costs for each family by $3,100."