In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Here's some good news (kind of) for the cause of Constitutional Unionism: According to a new Rasmussen poll, only 31% of likely voters in Texas think the state has the right to secede.

When asked the question, "Do individual states have the right to leave the United States and form an independent country?" the numbers come out at 31% Yes to 55% No.

Rasmussen also asked this follow-up question: "If you could vote on the issue, would you vote for Texas to remain in the United States or to secede from the United States and form an independent country of Texas?" The numbers come out at 18% for secession, to 76% against it.

Via ThinkProgress, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) thinks Illinois residents want to shoot their elected officials.

"I think that the decision to raise taxes by 50 percent in Illinois is political suicide," Kirk said of [Illinois Governor Pat] Quinn's proposal to raise the tax rate to 4.5 percent from 3 percent, coupled with an increase in the personal deduction. "I think the people of Illinois are ready to shoot anyone who is going to raise taxes by that degree."

From 3 to 4.5 percent. In the wake of the Tea Party protests, we've been following mainstream conservatives' and elected Republicans' flirtations with the extreme right, and we'll continue to do so.

Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates poured more cold water on the idea that Don't Ask, Don't Tell will be repealed anytime soon. "If we do it," Gates said, "it's very important that we do it right, and very carefully."

Lest you think Gates just misspoke, though, Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times said he resorted to conditional language more than once, adding that "if we do go down that road [it's important] we do it right and in a way that mitigates any downsides.''

Emphasis mine.

Back in January, of course, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said, in no uncertain terms, that the Don't Ask, Don't Tell would be repealed. But the administration's been slowly walking that back ever since.

WaPo: Banks Seek To Pay Back TARP -- But Are Taking Other Government Money The Washington Post reports that J.P. Morgan and other major banks are seeking to repay TARP money, which CEO Jamie Dimon called a "scarlet letter." On the other hand, the company is seeking to repay TARP money while still benefiting from other federal programs, which have in fact paid out even more money. Says the Post: "Other large banks are attempting the same combination of breakup and embrace."

Obama At The Summit Of The Americas President Obama is in Trinidad today, attending this weekend's Summit of the Americas. The gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders will address such issues as the drug war, global warming, and the economy. And as the Associated Press points out, the biggest job Obama will have will be to just improve relations with America's neighbors, after the tumult of the Bush years.

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The jaw dropper of the day has been Texas Governor Rick Perry's announcement--and refusal to disavow--that he may be contemplating secession (or a similar process) for the Lone Star State. But members of the Georgia Senate, the South Dakota House, and both chambers of the Oklahoma legislature must be wondering what all the fuss is about.

On April 1 of this year, the Georgia Senate passed a resolution affirming their belief that the U.S. government is on the verge of nullifying the Constitution--that, for instance if Congress passes any "[f]urther infringements on the right to keep and bear arms," that'll be it, in their eyes, for the olll' U.S. of A:

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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.