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1) The best review you'll read of financial crisis books.

2) Has American democracy gotten too democratic?

3) Democrats filibuster more democratically.

4) Michael Kinsley condescends to Charles Krauthammer.

5) A great time-lapse video of the snow piling atop Washington, D.C.

We're supposed to get more tonight. Also coming up tonight, I'll be on Rachel Maddow.

By Ezra Klein  |  February 9, 2010; 6:35 PM ET
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ALGORE is currently spinning at 3800 RPM.

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | February 9, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Does anybody else think it's a stretch to argue the the filibuster needs to be adjusted so it remains a potent tool for Democrats, but should be "tweaked" so Republicans can't be so naughty with it.

Good luck getting that pushed through. Does anyone think that the argument (which is a bit tortured) used to justify such tweaking would be used if the figures were reversed? Not to mention that proportional representation in the house is what, constitutionally, gives proportional representation to the people. The idea that filibuster power should be preserved, yet gerrymandered into some ideal form of proportional filibustering is, um, ill-considered.

Just get rid of the filibuster.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 10, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, right.

Let's get rid of the filibuster just in time for the new GOP takeover in November so they can run amok with power.

Are you people crazy?

The filibuster saved us from privatizing Social Security (among other things) during the Bush years.

You wanna know how to fix Congress?

Step 1 : get Pelosi and Reid to resign.

Step 2 : have actual votes on all the issues so we can see which Democrats are blocking progress. That's right people, it wasn't the GOP blocking progress this past year, it was a handful of traitorous Democrats that turned a Democratic supermajority into a quivering mass of cowardly jello. We need to find out who these Democrats are and get them out of office, even if that means replacing them with Republicans, because then we'd know what the true story is and where to focus our resources on replacing them with true progressives.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 10, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I think there are 2 choices on the filibuster: (a) get rid of it, or (b) keep it as is. And I have a 3rd option I like: "roll back the clock" on the filibuster and make it so Senators who choose to use it must keep the floor, and if they give up the floor, the filibuster is over.

Trying to gerrymander it so the senators who represent more people get to use it where those who represent less people don't--because, right now, it would favor Democrats and not Republicans--is a bad idea.

That being said, Bush's Social Security Reform did not "privatize" Social Security. It allowed people who paid Social Security Taxes to electively put up to 1/3rd of those taxes in a private account that was theirs and theirs alone. Which means the remaining 2/3rd remained going to the public coffers, and that individuals could choose to keep entirely in the public system. That's not "privatization".

If it had passed, I would have opened up my private account, invested the maximum allowed, and you could have remained entirely in the public option. And, when I retired, through the power of dollar-cost averaging, I'd have more money than you. ;)

And, if I died shortly after retiring, I'd have been able to leave the remainder of the account to my children.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 10, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

"Has American Democracy gotten too Democratic?"

It's an interesting question. Did it work better when only white male landowners had the vote? I'm dubious.

Is the rabble-rousing unique to now? Was it not present back at the founding of our country, as the author of the article seems to suggest? It seems there was quite a deal of rabble-rousing, if one reads in depth accounts of the time. Today's Tea Partiers are tame by comparison.

The author also seems to imply (maybe I'm reading this wrong) that the Boston Tea Party was a raucous bit of political hyperbole completely divorced from the calm, reasoned--hah!--process of crafting the constitution and creating a government.

Yet founding fathers, like Samuel Adams, took an active roll in engineering the Boston Tea Party (or at least in publicizing and defending it). And Tea Party style hyperbole filled the American press. Not to mention all the pamphleteering.

I don't think the problem is too much Democracy. The Tea Parties definitely aren't the problem. The problem is either spineless politicians who do not believe in or support their supposed agenda, or procedural tricks (filibuster, reconciliation) that prevent or subvert majority rule.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 10, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

@ Michael Kinsley on Condescending Liberal:

He has very good points, but tends to ruin them with lines like this: "There is nothing condescending about telling your fellow citizens that they are being stupid or selfish."

Yes, there is. It makes assumptions about their rationales and motivations and even their actual actions that you can't possibly know. There is *plenty* condescending about telling folks that don't agree with you that they are stupid or selfish for not agreeing with you, just as there is plenty condescending in telling people they are unpatriotic for disagreeing with you.

Indeed, Kinsley is offering a version of the Sean Hannity bromide: "I'm not questioning your patriotism, I just think you're trying to destroy the country."

I'm not being condescending when I tell people they are stupid and selfish for not living their lives like I say they should. I'm just being responsible and helpful!

Kinsley also says: "Condescension is telling people that they have 'bedrock common sense' simply because they're Americans"

Uh, okay. I guess it depends on what the definition of "is" is. Either that, or it's opposite day? Or is any show of respect or flattery towards the American people as a whole--or even a modest belief in American exceptionalism--condescension?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 10, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Kinsley concedes much too much. Recall the Tea party convention where Tom Tancredo said Obama would not have been elected if voters were required to pass a "civics literacy test." That's condescending. I don't notice any criticism from Krauthammer.

I think the key issue is that conservatives deceive themselves about the wishes of the American people. For decades a large majority has favored higher taxes on the rich and corporations (this was true in 2000 too).
and search for "fair share"

In fact, there is reliably a majority in favor of any proposal to raise taxes on the rich.

In the health care debate the House income surtax is popular and the Senate excise tax is unpopular. Also huge majorities support the public option.

Does Krauthammer think that such views show the bedrock common sense of Americans ? I think not. I think he completely denies the massive evidence. I would guess that he doesn't know about it (Gallup is after all a very obscure organization).

Now Krauthammer is not alone. Obama just said that he thought most Americans don't resent Lloyd Blankfein's $9,000,000,000 bonus. I think he should get out more. My guess is that the overwhelming majority of Americans resent it. I'd guess a majority would say so (although "to resent" is stigmatized) and a huge majority would say it is unfairly high.

The true condescension is that of elite people who claim they know what the American people want without having to ask us. They can only think they know what we want better than we do. Now that's condescension.

These facts are totally ignored by Kinsley in his eagerness to be intellectually arrogant (and really is anyone more eager to argue that he is smarter than everyone else -- I'm a close second but he wins).

Posted by: rjw88 | February 10, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

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