I’ve been distracted. The tournament’s on. So have some links.

• Between this incredible letter from a conservative in Ohio and this incredible response by a defender of teachers, I’d say that the Tea Party really over-reached with their assault on workers. But they’ve extracted a large price for their actions, including teacher’s lives, apparently.

• Jack Balkin on Bradley Manning, Barack Obama and the National Surveillance State. Dead-on.

• Military action in Libya did not have unanimous support inside the White House. By the way, I have to sadly agree with Michele Bachmann: we really don’t know a whole lot about the opposition in Libya.

• If you listen to conservatives long enough, you’ll get a healthy dose of fear about turning the IRS into a police force. Well. “Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions.”

• A lot of people first got wind of Scott Walker when he sent back high-speed rail money to the feds. That cost the state $60 million, twice as much as what Walker wrung out of public workers in wage reductions.

• Walker also released emails that reportedly showed “mass support” from the public for his plans. Turns out there were a lot of negative emails in there too.

• They’re getting scared on the GOP side in Wisconsin.

• Citizens United was really just a test run. Conservative activists want to abandon all campaign finance laws, period.

• Didn’t think I’d see Michael Gerson step out and criticize the hackish tactics of James O’Keefe in the NPR video. He didn’t go the full Anthony Weiner on the whole situation, but it was gratifying nonetheless.

• President Obama signed the stopgap spending bill today, keeping the lights on in Washington for another three weeks.

• Not much for you on the Japanese nuclear disaster today. But here’s a history lesson about Chernobyl. While I believe that the Japanese are far more careful in this aftermath than the Soviets, it should be noted what a dangerous and long-lasting situation they’re dealing with. Meanwhile, safety measures at US nuclear facilities are under review, which is super-comforting.

• Missouri’s Attorney General states definitively that they’ve found fraud in the foreclosure process, in the same breath says they probably can’t prosecute anyone for it.

• More labor news: The emergency financial manager law in Michigan is already having an impact on state workers. Tennessee workers are rallying to stop their rights from being stripped. FreedomWorks is using that same union thug footage from Sacramento in an anti-union ad in Ohio. More Midwest palm trees.

• As we head into a budget debate, it’s worth understanding that the GOP budget cannot possibly add up, and so maybe they shouldn’t be taken seriously on the subject.

• It wasn’t just Yemen that saw state-sponsored violence in response to peaceful protests today. See also Syria and the Sudan.

• Google’s Eric Schmidt could be named the Secretary of Commerce. He’ll need Google to figure out what the Commerce Department actually does.

• A majority of Americans support gay marriage for the first time ever. Things do change, however slowly. This could have a major impact on future court cases – judges will not have to go so far out on a limb. And by the way, we still have people literally being stoned for being gay, so this doesn’t mean we’re in some “post-homophobic” utopia yet.

• The Arizona Senate rejected five immigration bills yesterday, including a birthright citizenship bill. Coming to their senses?

• Thanks to Paul Kiel for pushing back on White House spin and reminding that the bailout cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

This letter detailing all the lies Darrell Issa told about the Department of Homeland Security is a fun read.

• What’s with Joe Biden hiring Villagers as his press aides?

• Ben Masel, a longtime marijuana legalization advocate, one-time Senate candidate and Daily Kos blogger, is dying of cancer. I saw him briefly back in Madison during the protests – he left a hospital bed to go to them.

• Republicans proudly protect farmers from accountability for animal cruelty. Not to mention bankers (not for animal cruelty, just for any crimes whatsoever).