In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Via ThinkProgress, I see Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is taking a sanguine and, dare I say, democratic, view of the budget reconciliation process.

"It's their right. They did win the election," said Ryan, R-Wis. "That's what I tell all my constituents who are worried about this. They won the election. They did run on these ideas. They did run on nationalizing health care. So, you're right about that. They have the votes with reconciliation. They nailed down the process so that they can make sure they have the votes and that they can get this thing through really fast. It is their right. It is what they can do."


One can quibble with some of this rhetoric. Democrats won the election on a platform of universalizing health care through a combination of private and public insurance, and government subsidies. But this is certainly a more realistic assessment than that of, say, Ryan's Senate counterpart Judd Gregg (R-NH) who supports the reconciliation process when Republicans use it to pass tax cuts and ANWR drilling, but compares it to "running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the Chicago River," when the Democrats so much as propose it for health reform.

But has Ryan always been so fair? Let's go to the tape:

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Most of the focus on the obstruction of Dawn Johnsen has been on Republicans. They're the ones who might hold up her nomination, or stage a filibuster (i.e. file for cloture) so there's some good reason for that.

But what about pro-life Democrats? A Congressional Quarterly report this morning suggests that one pro-life Democratic senator--to wit Ben Nelson (D-PA)--might not support her nomination.

"Senator Nelson is very concerned about the nomination of Dawn Johnsen, based on her previous position as Counsel for NARAL. He believes that the Office of Legal Counsel is a position in which personal views can have an impact and is concerned about her outspoken pro-choice views on abortion," said spokesman Clay Westrope.


Ah, but there's an important technical distinction between "not supporting" a nominee and "actively filibustering" her. The question comes down to how Nelson would vote if Republicans subject Johnsen to a cloture vote. I spoke with a Nelson staffer myself just a moment ago and he didn't officially take the option off the table.

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The Minnesota Supreme Court has just issued its order establishing a schedule for Norm Coleman's appeal of the Senate election result -- and even though this schedule has been expedited by the standards of normal civil litigation, it's going to be a while by political standards.

The court adopted the proposed briefing timeline from the Coleman campaign, allowing them more time to formulate their arguments: Coleman's brief is to be submitted by next Thursday, April 30; Team Franken will submit its brief by May 11, and a reply brief from Coleman is to be submitted by May 15.

On top of that, oral arguments have been scheduled for June 1 -- a month and a week from today.

Team Franken had called for a much quicker schedule, on the grounds that greater speed was needed in order to seat a second U.S. Senator from Minnesota, and that Coleman had already had plenty of time to come up with his arguments. But the court didn't go for it.

Indeed, by any normal measure this timeline is itself a quick one for a state Supreme Court to be taking an appeal. But for the political world, this is not a normal case.

Late Update: Lead Franken attorney Marc Elias gives us this comment: "We are grateful that the court has issued an expedited scheduling order, and we look forward to the process continuing to move forward so that Sen.-elect Franken can be seated as quickly as possible."

Late Late Update: Coleman legal spokesman Ben Ginsberg released this statement: "We're pleased with the timetable the court has granted to prepare for this historic and consequential case to enfranchise thousands of Minnesota citizens who still wait for their voices to be heard, and their votes to be counted."

A new Rasmussen poll of Pennsylvania finds that Arlen Specter appears to be in serious trouble going into his 2010 primary against conservative challenger Pat Toomey.

The numbers: Toomey 51%, Specter 30%.

Toomey, a former Congressman, previously ran against Specter in the 2004 primary, and made it into a 51%-49% race. Specter has since provided Toomey a huge opening this time thanks to his vote for the stimulus bill. And Pennsylvania is a closed-primary state, too, meaning that Specter faces a conservative base vote.

From the pollster's analysis: "In another sign that could be troubling for Specter, the current poll finds that 79% of Pennsylvania Republicans have a favorable opinion of the "Tea Party" protests against big government spending and higher taxes held across the nation last week. Thirty percent (30%) know someone personally who took part."

Al Gore, Newt Gingrich, John Warner To Headline Committee Hearing The House Energy and Commerce Committee will be holding a hearing on climate change at 10 a.m. ET today, featuring an all-star line-up of guests: Former Vice President Al Gore, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and former Sen. John Warner (R-VA). Gore and Warner support various legislation to limit carbon emissions, while Gingrich was added at the last minute, at the request of Republicans, as an individual who is skeptical of the claimed human contribution to climate change.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet with Vice President Biden for lunch at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then at 1:30 p.m. ET, he will speak about higher-education costs, discussing his proposal to end the Federal Family Education Loans program, a government subsidy to banks, in favor of direct government financing.

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In news that won't shock regular readers of this site, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)--one of three openly gay House members--says he believes that Democrats will wait until 2010 to attempt a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Not only that, but, according to Roll Call, he thinks that's the right way to go. "I believe we should and will do 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' next year," Frank said. "We haven't done the preliminary work, the preparatory work. It would be a mistake to bring it up without a lot of lobbying and a lot of conversation."

The administration has been walking back its vow to repeal DADT for weeks now, to the great frustration of advocates at Human Rights Campaign and the Servicemember's Legal Defense Networks. Gay rights groups hope the issue will be raised when the Senate considers Defense Secretary Robert Gates' budget proposal next month, and their opponents are preparing for just such a contingency.

On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider the nomination of Harold Koh to be the State Department Legal Adviser. Koh's March 23 appointment has sent the far right into conniptions, supposedly because of Koh's academic views on the legal issue of transnational justice, and various reports indicate his nomination might be filibustered.

But Koh also has a number of high profile conservative allies, including Reagan OLC-chief, and George W. Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson, and Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Indeed, it's been suggested by some that opposition to Koh is part of a forward-looking campaign to keep Koh off the Supreme Court than a sincere concern for U.S. sovereignty. Perhaps more on that later.

Now that the hearing's been scheduled, Yale University will begin the search for a new Dean.

We can now add another illustrious name to the list of absentee voters whose ballots in the NY-20 special election have been challenged by the campaign of GOP candidate Jim Tedisco: Sam Seder, the liberal talk-radio host with Air America!

Sam posted a message on Twitter yesterday: "NY20th race Tedisco challenged my absentee ballot. 4 days before the election I was jury foreman for a trial in NY20th. Challenge Fail."

The Tedisco camp had previously challenged U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's ballot -- the person that Tedisco is seeking to replace in Congress -- and now Sam is on the list, too.

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Scott Murphy is creating some more distance between himself and Republican candidate Jim Tedisco in the NY-20 special election. Murphy now leads by 401 votes, compared to a 365-vote lead yesterday.

Some more absentee ballots were counted in the Murphy strongholds of Columbia, Essex, Warren and Washington Counties -- plus the Tedisco stronghold of Saratoga County. And while Tedisco did net 38 votes from the newest ballots in Saratoga, it was more than outstripped by the other places.

Keep in mind that Tedisco actually won the Election Night count by 68 votes -- but by the time we found that out, after errors in the counties' spreadsheets were all double-checked, the absentees had started to come in. And Murphy has been consistently picking up votes during the absentee count.

Early this morning over at the mother ship, Josh made an interesting comparison between members of the Republican rump and the members of Junta Parties in post-Junta Banana Republics. A Junta could rule a country for years, but when its members are overthrown, they face the real risk of recriminations, and forming a solidarity party is one key way for them to forestall any consequences.

For future reference, members of Junta Parties around the world should consult either Sen. John McCain, or Sen. Kit Bond, a Missouri Republican who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee. After spending years supporting Bush-era torture and other crimes, Bond, with an assist from McCain, has turned the tables (sort of) on the new party of power by accusing it of fashioning the United States after a Banana Republic. Watch:

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