* First look: Liberal groups unleash new ad hammering Wisconsin GOP recall targets: Progressive groups are going up today with a compelling new ad that features ordinary Wisconsinites making the case for the recall of multiple GOP state senators, and while the national media has largely stopped covering this story, the minute-long spot succeeds in capturing the grassroots energy and drive that continues to make it so interesting and remarkable:

The spot, which is being paid for by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America and will run in multiple media markets, can be viewed as chapter two in an ad campaign that began with a spot that featured Wisconsinites making the case against Governor Scott Walker. Now it features them arguing for the recall of a half dozen state senators who enabled him, directing viewers to a new recall Web site.

In an effort to sustain the recall drive’s momentum — Dems say they’ve gathered more than half the signatures they need to trigger recall elections, but the last half is always far harder to gather than the first — the ad strikes an optimistic tone about eventual victory.

“Republicans declared war on the middle class,” a woman in the ad declares. “Now, with this recall campaign, we are fighting back. And we are going to win.”

Labor and Dems have staked a tremendous amount on the recall campaign, and all indications are that the Wisconsin and national Dem base remain engaged in the fight.

* Why Dems are on the defensive in budget fight: A dispiriting, but instructive, story by Jackie Calmes and Carl Hulse reports that Dems in the Senate and White House are well aware that their strategy in the budget negotiations has left them on the defensive. They blame the fact that the public doesn’t fully appreciate how devastating GOP cuts would really be.

Maybe the problem here is that if you originally agree to deep cuts and lend rhetorical support to the conservative austerity/cut-cut-cut frame, it’s not a good starting point for negotiations. The public concludes that cutting in a general sense is advisable and tunes out the bickering over the details, leaving folks without a clear enough sense of what Dems are fighting for and no clear contrast between the parties.

* Inside the breakdown in budget talks: The White House has reportedly cut off negotiations out of frustration with the House GOP’s insistence that talks proceed from a GOP proposal that Senate Dems had already rejected. Also: Dems are mulling an offer of around $30 billion in cuts, which is close to the original amount sought by Republicans before the Tea Party brigade “forced” them to cut more deeply, but Dems won’t make it formal until Republicans signal a willingness to entertain it.

* The Dem strategy: Dems are hoping to belatedly turn negotiations to their advantage by slamming GOP leaders for refusing to compromise in order to make the Tea Party base happy, but there are no indications this strategy is moving Republicans at all.

* The Tea Party’s role in budget showdown: Why so much Tea Party pressure on GOP leaders not to reach a budget compromise? One interesting explanation: They believe Obama is an extentional threat to the country, so any deal with him is by definition a non-starter.

* Obama makes case against goal of regime change: One of the most interesting aspects of Obama’s address on Libya last night was his effort to articulate a strong case against regime change as the proper goal of the mission, and his placement of our experience in Iraq at the center of that argument, which amounts to a direct challenge to the vision of his neocon critics.

* But Obama is trying to create the conditions for post-Gaddafi Libya: David Ignatius on Obama’s balancing act between asserting that regime change isn’t a goal even as the coalition tries to create conditions for a post-Gaddafi Libya to succeed.

* Obama reasserts belief in American exceptionalism: Also: Obama’s claim of America’s “unique role as an anchor of global security” seemed like a direct response to critics who falsely claim he doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism.

But wait — he didn’t use the actual word “exceptional,” now did he. See? See?

* Republicans keep up “lack of clarity of mission” criticism: Republican lawmakers responded to Obama’s speech by amplifying the case that Obama still has yet to clearly define our goals or what success would look like, a line of criticism that has become a proxy for the larger case that Obama is a weak and indecisive leader.

* Dems blast Republicans on national security: The DCCC is hoping to use GOP-proposed cuts to nuclear detection and non-proliferation to go on offense against vulnerable House Republicans by painting them as weak on national security.

* Why is Dick Durbin in “Gang of Six” talks on Social Security? He insists he’s mainly part of the talks to protect liberal turf and not let all this cutting-Social-Security stuff get too out of hand.

One way to go about this: No cuts to Social Security, period.

* Birtherism, in all its various manifestations: Adam Serwer offers a birther lexicon so you can appreciate the full intellectual range of this budding movement.

* And the debunking of the day: Newly-minted birther Donald Trump has supposedly produced a document proving the place of his birth, but The Smoking Gun points out that it’s not an official New York City birth certificate. Why won’t The Donald come clean and release his actual birth certificate? What is he hiding?

What else is happening?