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The legal wrangling over Gov. Scott Walker's (R-WI) new law curtailing public employee unions continues, with Secretary of Administration Mike Huebsch now expressing confusion over whether the law is in effect -- a day after a Dane County judge enjoined its implementation for a second time.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Wednesday Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said that he was "confused" about the judge's ruling and the legal controversy over whether the law is in effect. Asked whether the state would move forward, Huebsch said he couldn't say.

"It's up to the judge," Huebsch said.

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Nearly two and a half years after two members of the New Black Panther Party stood outside a polling station in Philadelphia -- and after an extensive internal probe found no improper political influence of the Justice Department's decision to drop a civil voter intimidation case against all but one of the defendants -- conservatives are showing no signs they'll let the issue drop.

As TPM reported yesterday, the Justice Department said in a letter to members of Congress that after an extensive investigation, they found that neither the race of the defendants or political considerations affected the Justice Department's handling of the voter intimidation case.

But many on the right smell a cover up. FoxNation.com called it a "whitewash." J. Christian Adams, the conservative lawyer hired during the Bush administration who was one of two Civil Rights Division Voting Section line attorneys who filed case, wrote for the website Pajamas Media that the "fix came in."

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I was in Cantor's weekly briefing yesterday when he got dressed down by Politico's David Rogers. And yes, it was a sight to behold. But for self-interested reasons, this is being passed around by Democrats and, well, Politico, as evidence that David Rogers is more keyed into what's going on behind the scenes in the budget fight than Eric Cantor.

Color me skeptical there. John Boehner might not brief Cantor as thoroughly as Harry Reid briefs Chuck Schumer (I don't know) but what I took from that exchange was that Cantor hid the ball, so he could more credibly move the center of gravity of budget negotiations to the right. If you're the number two Republican in the House and you admit that the Speaker is planning to cut a deal with Democrats, you can't easily undercut him in public and move the goalposts in your direction. But you can pretend you're not privy to those discussions and then play bad cop, by pushing for a more conservative outcome.

With that in mind, I think a more realistic take is that Cantor sees a falling out brewing between Boehner and House conservatives, and wants them to have a place to rest their loyalties in the aftermath. Maybe he's doing that to undermine Boehner. Maybe he's doing it to preserve some semblance of rank-and-file loyalty to leadership. Maybe a bit of both. But he's not just twiddling his thumbs ignorantly while the principals do all the real work.

Full Cantor-Rogers exchange below the fold.

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Sarah Palin launched a lengthy attack on The Daily Caller via Facebook on Wednesday in which she slammed the conservative-leaning news organization for not featuring her quotes prominently enough.

The publication, helmed by Tucker Carlson, quoted from a nearly 650-word statement she issued to them in response to an article on legislation she signed as governor of Alaska providing tax credits to production companies who film in Alaska. It also reprinted the entire statement on the next page of the article. This was not good enough, however, for Palin, who said that her statement was "buried."

"Goodness, cleaning up the sloppiness of reporters could be a full time job," she began a Facebook post on the article today. "In response to The Daily Caller's online inquiry, I gave them a statement that the writer buried on his story's second page (which most people won't even notice - I didn't even notice it.)"

Palin's criticism offered a window into her staff's approach to the press. In an interview with TPM, the reporter who wrote the story, Chris Moody, said he was "surprised" to see her Facebook post given that Palin aides had demanded he make the entire Palin statement available -- which he did -- as a precondition to giving him any kind of a response to his questions.

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Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), who is exploring a run for president, is headed to the backyard of another potential GOP contender, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- with Pawlenty set to appear at a Tea Party rally in Boston on tax day, April 15.

The Boston Globe reports:

The speech will bring Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, to the home state of a potential rival for the 2012 GOP nomination, Mitt Romney.

It also puts him in a Tea Party spotlight enjoyed last year by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who was the event's 2010 keynote speaker.

"Governor Pawlenty's leadership in Minnesota has put his state on a course towards economic success," said a statement issued by Christin Varley, the group's president. "His is a message voters need to hear."

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With Democratic leaders aggressively assigning blame to the Tea Party for derailing funding talks, a group of freshman Republicans held a press conference on Wednesday to assert instead that the impasse was instead the fault of Senate Democrats.

Democratic lawmakers, including Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), claimed yesterday that they were close to a deal with House Republicans and the White House before conservative rank-and-file Republicans revolted, but the group of about half a dozen Republicans insisted they were on the same page as House Republican leaders.

"They want to frame the debate as one within the Republican caucus, but the American people are not buying it," Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) said. "The fight is between Republicans who want to cut Washington spending and Democrats who want to defend it."

The group blamed Reid for the looming shutdown, taping a letter from 30 freshmen Members onto the door of the Senate in a manila envelope addressed to "MR. REID" in Sharpie that called on Democrats to jump start negotiations by passing their own CR. The Senate rejected the House's long-term continuing resolution earlier this month but has not passed its own long-term bill funding the government.

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This winter, progressives and elected Democrats in states across the country found themselves blindsided by a coordinated wave of conservative legislation. The policies themselves were tailor-made to both advance right-leaning policy objectives, and undermine the electoral hopes of the Democratic Party: union-busting, voter ID laws, tort reforms.

Despite high unemployment, and a public clamoring for jobs, these political measures popped up in just about every state where the GOP took control of part or all of government after the 2010 midterm romp -- the ideas themselves were drafted and circulated by a network of conservative groups, and advanced by a crop of politicians that has been nurtured by the movement for years.

Looking forward, progressives want a piece of that action.

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In a way I admire the clever communicating strategy behind this move.

It's as if to say, "we're doing everything in our power to prevent a government shutdown, and the Democrats are not."

But of course, if Democrats agreed to accept HR 1 as a failsafe to prevent a government shutdown, Republicans would just stop negotiating, let the deadline pass, and voila, they get everything they want.

A penetrating glimpse into the obvious, perhaps, but that's what makes the gambit so ludicrous when taken literally.

The percentage of Americans who hold an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party movement rose to an all-time in a new CNN poll released today. CNN found the Tea Party ranked nearly as unpopular as both the Republican and Democratic parties.

In the poll, 47% of adult Americans said they viewed the Tea Party unfavorably, compared to 32% who said they viewed it favorably.

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As Indiana Democrats return to the state after a month-long standoff to halt what they've called a Republican agenda targeting workers rights and public schools, a new ad paid for by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels' PAC, Aiming Higher Inc., is slamming them for going AWOL and playing "political games."

The ad, which will air across Indiana, was released on Tuesday. It criticizes Democrats for fleeing to Illinois and says they walked out on the children of the state.

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