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Rep. Jane Harman's office has released a statement in response to CQ's report that the congresswoman was heard on an NSA wiretap telling an "Israeli agent" that she would press the Justice Department to ease up on the AIPAC spy case in return for political help.

The CQ Politics story simply recycles three year-old discredited reporting of largely unsourced material to manufacture a 'scoop' out of widely known and unremarkable facts - that Congresswoman Jane Harman is and has long been a supporter of AIPAC, and that some members of AIPAC regarded her as well-qualified to chair the House Intelligence Committee following the 2006 elections. Congresswoman Harman has never contacted the Justice Department about its prosecution of present or former AIPAC employees and the Department has never informed her that she was or is the subject of or involved in an investigation. If there is anything about this story that should arouse concern, it is that the Bush Administration may have been engaged in electronic surveillance of members of the congressional Intelligence Committees.

The DSCC and NRSC have just released their first-quarter fundraising numbers, showing a mixed bag of news for each side as the Dems race to get a 60-seat super-majority and the GOP works to stop them.

The Senate Dems brought in $10.4 million for the quarter and have $7.2 million on hand, compared to the Senate GOP's $9.6 million and $2.27 million on hand. However, the NRSC has only $1 million remaining debt, compared to the DSCC's $10.9 million in debt.

So while the DSCC is taking in money at a faster clip right now -- and having a near-super-majority certainly helps in doing that -- they're still not yet out of their hole from the 2008 elections, while the GOP has effectively climbed out.

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The moneyed interests that organized last week's Tea Party protests may insist that their efforts did not constitute astroturfing--that, much like the anti-Iraq war protesters who've taken to the streets between 2003 and today, the tea party attendees are articulating organic anger, and groups like FreedomWorks have only helped them co-ordinate.

That's probably not how students and officials at Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, SD feel about it. According to the Argus Leader, 19 school drummers and 15 choir members (though there appears to be some overlap between the two) showed up at the local tea party and were shocked to find themselves at a political event.

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Another local newspaper in Minnesota is calling upon Norm Coleman to concede, after having endorsed him in the 2008 election. This time, it's the Bemidji Pioneer:

Sen. Coleman's appeals were necessary and a legal part of the process. But at some point, incessant appeals serve no more than to obstruct the process than to guarantee justice. It's not unlike the Death Row inmate who exhausts all his appeals, taking years, and reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. And how many cases does the high court acquit?


The public perception at this point appears not to be one of letting Sen. Coleman fully seek redress of his legal grievances, but rather one of obstructing the Democrat-controlled Senate to prevent it from reaching that magic number of 60 votes. Adding Mr. Franken would mean 59 Democrat votes in the Senate. To continue to obstruct doesn't bode well for Minnesota, nor for Sen. Coleman's career, should he continue in politics.

Similar calls have come from at least two other papers that endorsed Coleman in 2008: The Albert Lea Tribune and the Worthington Daily Globe.

The new Siena poll in New York State shows that a majority of registered voters here favor legalizing gay marriage -- a push that currently has the support of Gov. David Paterson and others, but is not guaranteed passage in the state Senate.

The numbers: 53% favor, 39% oppose, with a ±3.8% margin of error. The internals show all regions of the state (New York City, the suburbs and Upstate) support it by various margins.

Among religious sub-groups, only 41% of Protestants favor it to 53% against, Jews favor it 64%-32% -- and Catholics favor it by a 49%-41% plurality. In the racial cross-tabs, Whites are in favor 56%-36%, Latinos are for it 57%-31%, and African-Americans oppose it with 44% in favor to 49% against.

The interplay of racial and religious politics could very well determine whether this proposal sinks in the Senate, or ends up signed into law.

The League of Conservation Voters is going on the air very early in the 2010 Missouri Senate race, where GOP Senator Kit Bond is retiring and the election is expected to be very close.

The LCV has this new statewide ad hitting Rep. Roy Blunt, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, for saying no to clean energy projects -- and holding America back:

"Call Roy Blunt," the announcer says, "and tell him it's time to start believing in America again." Now that the Democrats are the ones in power, it's the liberals who are playing the flag-waving card against the GOP, a reversal from the past eight years.

The ad is running statewide, with a heavy focus in Blunt's home town of Springfield.

Late Update: Blunt spokesman Nick Simpson gives us this statement:

"Congressman Blunt led the fight last year for an all-of-the-above energy strategy that included more job-creating American production, more conservation and more alternative fuels. The Democrat majority, however, tried to block every Republican attempt to even debate the need for a new national energy policy. It seems this ad supports Mr. Blunt's position."

Al Franken has made a bold move to seize the mantle of victory in his disputed Senate race, with his campaign announcing a staff hire for his eventual Senate office.

Franken has hired Alana Petersen, who has worked for the past five years for Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN), to be his state director. Franken said in a statement:

"I want Minnesotans to be able to rely on me for assistance with the federal government. Whether it's a Social Security check, a small business loan, or help for a returning veteran, my office will be there for the people of our state, following the examples set by Sen. Klobuchar, our fine Congressional delegation, and those who came before us. That's the Minnesota way, and nobody is better at it than Alana. Drawing on her wealth of experience and her ability to reach out to every constituency in Minnesota, when I have the privilege of being certified, she'll work with me to ensure that we hit the ground running on Day One."

Franken told Minnesota Public Radio: "It's a little difficult because we're still in a little bit of a legal limbo but we, again, I don't want to be presumptuous but I feel like it's irresponsible not to get a jump on this."

A U.N. torture expert said Saturday that the United States has an obligation to prosecute CIA officers who used harsh interrogation tactics to question detainees in the War on Terror. Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special rapporteur in Geneva, told the AP that the U.S. had to abide by the U.N. Convention against Torture to make torture illegal and seek justice against those who used it. Nowak criticized President Obama's logic in the decision announced Thursday not to prosecute CIA officers who used the tactics -- including waterboarding. "The fact that you carried out an order doesn't relieve you of your responsibility," Nowak said. (AP)

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House Minority Leader John Boehner appeared on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos and entirely rewrote the scientific community's understanding of carbon dioxide. Boehner said, "the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical."

Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you've got more carbon dioxide. And so I think it's clear.

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